Thursday, October 27, 2005


Below is a letter from two members of the CTA to all other members

In every public school in California, we teach our students about our right to freedom of speech. We teach them the value of being able to disagree, but still respect the opinions of those you disagree with. Apparently, freedom of speech is not something our union, the California Teachers Association (CTA) supports.

We wrote to you last week because we strongly disagreed with the political and financial decisions being made by the leadership of the CTA. The purpose of our email was to express a legitimate opinion and to inform our colleagues of our concerns.

Never in our wildest imagination did we believe that the CTA would threaten us with jail time for exercising free speech! Two days after we sent our email, the CTA announced that it was seeking to press criminal charges against us. This is what was reported in the Sacramento Bee:

"CTA Chief Counsel Beverly Tucker sent letters Friday asking the district attorneys of Sacramento, Alameda and Los Angeles counties to investigate the e-mails and `take appropriate action including filing criminal charges.'" (10/15/05)

This is what happens when you challenge the political agenda of our union's leadership.

They do not tolerate a different point of view and instead threaten us with criminal charges because we dare disagree with them. We will never stop speaking out on what we believe and no amount of threat or intimidation will deter us.

We can only assume CTA leadership reacted this way because we are telling you information they don't want you to know. For example, did you know that the CTA has already spent over $60 million THIS YEAR ALONE on political consultants and television ads? They have spent so much money on politics that they are seeking a $40 million loan just to keep providing basic services to teachers. According to a sworn affidavit by CTA Controller Carlos Moreno, an inability to get this loan would "cause great financial harm to CTA and affect CTA's ability to continue to deliver its current level of services to members over the long term."

How is it that our current leadership allowed our union to spend so much money on politics that it must now put itself even deeper in debt in order to provide actual services for teachers? Did you know that our leadership had a private meeting in June where they voted to raise our dues by $180 in order to cover the debt created by all of this political spending?

Our union leadership has grown quite adept at wasting our money on politics. In the past few years alone the CTA has spent over $100 million on political consultants and television ads supporting ballot measures that have NOTHING TO DO WITH EDUCATION!

Here are just a few examples, and you decide for yourself if you agree or disagree with how our leadership spends OUR MONEY. Did you know that CTA:

*Spent $10,000 fighting AGAINST the Three Strikes Law?
*Spent more than $2 million this year on ballot measures dealing with prescription drugs, state energy policy and an abandoned effort to regulate the way people buy cars?! (WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH TEACHING???!!!)
*Spent more than $2 million in 2004 in support of a losing ballot measure that would have made it easier to raise taxes?!
*Spent close to $3 million last year in a botched effort to roll back Prop. 13 and raise property taxes?! Then tried to do it again this year, spending more than $2 million, and botched that one too! (AN UTTER WASTE OF YOUR MONEY!)

Now what on EARTH does state energy policy, and shopping for cars, have to do with education? And what does it get us, as teachers in the classroom? Not a thing.

The millions they wasted on things like that abandoned car shopping campaign sure could come in handy in my classroom. Or yours.

As we mentioned, the CTA leadership is seeking criminal charges against us for sending you these emails. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with our view of the union leadership, we hope you will at least support our right of free speech to voice our opinion.

More here


IS there a literacy problem with senior school English students? Not so, according to Mark Howie, head of the English Teachers Association NSW. In a paper posted on the Australian Association for the Teaching of English's website, under Latest News, Howie argues the literacy crisis is a media beat-up and that critics' concerns "have no basis in fact".

Never mind the research carried out by academics at the Australian Defence Force Academy, where 600 undergraduates had to be tested as many found it impossible to write a well structured and grammatically correct essay. Howie also appears unaware of the admission by Roslyn Arnold, dean of education at the University of Tasmania, that as many as one in 10 students undertaking teaching courses need remedial lessons as a result of inadequate writing skills.

As to why many students, after six years of secondary school, are at risk, one needs to go no further than looking at how English teaching has changed through the years and how Year 12 is examined. The NSW English (Standard) and English (Advanced) Paper I is a case in point. This week's paper provides ample evidence of how English has been dumbed down and how examinations are so user-friendly that all can succeed. Not only does the paper include numerous visual images, as writing is no longer considered privileged, but, in question one, where students are asked about a particular book, all they are asked to look at is the front and inside covers.

In addition to the concern that the comprehension questions are more suited to Year 10, also troubling is that questions such as "In what ways might the front book cover and inside book cover appeal to a potential reader" ignore the fact there may be some students wanting to argue the counter case.

The way section III is structured is also flawed in that not only are the questions so broad and nebulous that students can easily use pre-prepared answers, but none of the questions ask students to critically analyse individual texts in any substantial way.

Adrian Mitchell, head of the department of English at the University of Sydney, describes Paper I as bland and like "cold gravy". He also suggests that many of the illustrations in the paper are facile and unimaginative and that, in attempting to meet the needs of all, the paper fails to stimulate and challenge better performing students.

An interesting exercise is to compare Year 12 NSW English Paper I with equivalent papers produced during the mid-1990s. Not only did the 1995, 1996 and 1997 papers contain fewer pictures and images, with the result that students were expected to read more, but the material and the questions were more challenging.

Being able to use pre-prepared answers because of generic questions and shifting the emphasis from close textural analysis to discussing texts in terms of broad themes and ideas is also a criticism of the NSW Advanced English paper.

No matter what type of text, whether poems, plays, novels, multimedia websites, speeches or hypertexts, the same question is asked on the basis that they are of equal worth. Thus a Paul Keating speech and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission website are treated in the same way as Shakespeare's King Lear and Jane Austen's Emma.

It should be noted that the malaise represented by the adoption of what Baden Eunson, an academic at Monash University, describes as English lite, is not restricted to NSW. On comparing what is expected of students, as represented by present examination papers and what was expected from Victorian Year 12 students during the '60s, Eunson makes the point that an emphasis on teaching and assessing correct grammar, punctuation and spelling has largely disappeared.

The draft English examination being circulated as part of Western Australia's extension of outcomes based education to the senior years also represents a watered-down, critical literacy view of English. Questions such as, "Write a set of instructions for the use of the 21st century" and "Write a contribution to an online chat room in which you discuss something (for example, sport/project/hobby/film/performance/event/gaming community)" appear to have little substance or worth.

As one of the teachers contributing to the Perth-based PLATO website says: "What level of language expression, grammar and spelling would be acceptable for writing in a chat room? A student could argue that any old rubbish is acceptable, 'cz thts wot eye rte in a cht rom'."


Tennessee: No. 1 reason teachers ousted is sex : "Sexual impropriety is the No. 1 reason teachers lose their licenses in Tennessee. Two in five teachers whose licenses were revoked by the State Board of Education from 2003 through the present were accused of sex-related violations or inappropriate contact with students, according to a Tennessean review of state records. In about a third of the 35 sex-related revocations, teachers who had licenses in more than one state lost their Tennessee license when they got into trouble somewhere other than Tennessee. New rules passed by the state board last week would also allow for administrators to lose their licenses if they fail to report teachers who resign after allegations emerge. The idea is to prevent problem teachers from moving from one district or state to another."


For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

The NEA and similar unions worldwide believe that children should be thoroughly indoctrinated with Green/Left, feminist/homosexual ideology but the "3 R's" are something that kids should just be allowed to "discover"

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