Latest News

A few news items of interest:

Supreme Court to hear “Friedrichs vs. California”
Last week the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it will hear the “Friedrichs vs. California Teachers” case. The case concerns the requirement that teachers must contribute to unions even if they do not agree with some of the union’s activities and do not want to join.
If the court finds against the union, the effects will be devastating, as “unions would be in the unfair position of still representing workers, negotiating on their behalf and improving their working conditions without the law’s safety net requiring that all who benefit share in the costs. Dues-paying members would have to pay for the equal representation provided to non-members.” It would ultimately have the entire country follow the path of Wisconsin, which has, as expected, seen union membership decline and workers losing benefits and wages.
The decision is expected to come early in 2016, and while it could go either way, the safe money is on an anti-union ruling. For more on this topic, see NYSUT’s summary of the case or this article from Slate Magazine.
ESEA Re-authorization
The House and Senate began debating re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act this week. The House and Senate each have their own bills, which are, on the whole, very similar. Both would eliminate the AYP (annual yearly progress) aspects of No Child Left Behind, and would reduce the power of the US Department of Education, but would still maintain the requirement for annual testing. (Read more about the bills in this article from the Washington Post.) This again becomes one of those issues where one has to ask if it is better to support a bill that is wrong in many ways but much better than what we have, or should we hold out for a re-write that truly fixes what’s wrong. Knowing that Obama has indicated he will veto any bill that does not include annual testing certainly plays into that. Here’s why Carol Burris is supporting the Senate’s, “Every Child Achieves” bill, flawed as it may be. 
Spend Some Time in the Hamptons with Cuomo this Weekend
This coming Saturday, hedge fund manager and charter school advocate Daniel Loeb is hosting a $5,000/ plate fund raiser for Andrew Cuomo in East Hampton. A number of pro-labor groups, including various NYSUT locals, will be there to express dissatisfaction at the “hedge fund control of government.”  The central meeting point is at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Amagansett. A bus will be coming that will pick people up in Hempstead and in Brentwood. The bus will then pick up everyone at St. Michaels and bring them to the rally point.  Please contact Jeff Friedman at or call him at (516) 670-7834 to RSVP and with any questions. RSVP is a must because of spacing.
Farewell Ken Wagner 
Ken Wagner, former Prodell Principal, current Deputy Commissioner of NYSED, and well known Kool-Aid connoisseur, has just been chosen to be the Education Commissioner of Rhode Island. While many of us have fond memories of his time at SWR, his statewide contributions have left a bit to be desired, to say the least. Let’s hope his replacement is someone who is more willing to listen to the voices of educators.