Sunday, July 28, 2013

Wisconsin Teachers’ Unions In Full Collapse

Remember all those dire predictions about the damage Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s public employee union contract reforms would do? Remember the angst of Wisconsin’ teachers and other “vital workers” over what they saw as the end of the line for their cushy jobs and control over their state? Well, they were right to be worried. They are getting crushed and put out of existence.

Now that two years have passed and the dust has settled, it’s safe to say that the union protesters who filled the legislative offices and camped out in Wisconsin’s state capital were actually optimistic. The results of Walker’s changes have been more devastating than either side could have feared or hoped for, depending on their point of view.

Since Act 10 passed two years ago, public employees’ unions have been in a steep decline they may not be able to come out of. Like a plane whose engines have failed will crash and burn, these unions are on their way to crashing and burning.

Savor this roll call of collapse in just two years.

Among Wisconsin’s fastest declining unions is AFSCME Council 24, which has seen a jaw dropping 88% (5,900 to 690) reduction in its dues paying members.

Another union, the WSEU, has shrunk from 22,000 members before Act 10, to less than 10,000 as of last December.

Wisconsin’s AFSCME Council 40 has lost 35% of its membership (31,730 in 2011 to 20,488 today).

Council 48 situated in Milwaukee County had 9,043 members two years ago. Today, it has 3,498 dues paying members.

Wisconsin’s teachers’ unions have lost 29% of their members, and there is no reason to believe the bleeding will stop anytime soon.
More than this, the whole state is experiencing a collapse of union membership, according to a  Bureau of Labor Statistic release that set union membership at 11.2%, down from 13.3% just two years ago.


South Carolina Tries School Choice

South Carolina has a new, temporary school choice law tucked within its recently-passed state budget. The bill, H.3710, authorizes nonprofits to offer scholarships to in-state students with special needs. Individuals and corporations that donate receive state tax credits in return.

Gov. Nikki Haley signed the bill June 27 and its provisions are now in effect, according to House Education Committee staff.

The final House vote on the bill “was high drama—it passed by one vote,” said Rep. Robert Brown (D-Charleston), vice-chair of the Education and Public Works committee. “The large majority of Democrats voted against the bill because of that provision.”

Lawmakers included the provision in the state budget after years of similar, independent bills failed to pass.

Opportunities for Families
The program’s tax credits are capped at $8 million. It allocates each student up to $10,000 or the cost of private tuition, whichever is less.

“South Carolina has about 730,000 students, so this program helps about 0.1 percent of the students in South Carolina. It’s a very limited pilot program,” says Jason Bedrick, a policy analyst with the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom.

The program also expires after one year.

“Next year we will see a bill coming out of the Senate to expand the program and make it permanent law,” Brown said, “now that the camel 's nose is under the tent.”

The donation and scholarship caps mean that about 800 students could likely participate this year, depending on the severity of students’ disabilities, said Vicki Alger, a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum. Scholarships average less, however, than $10,000 per student in the country’s largest special needs scholarship program, she noted.  Scholarships from Florida’s McKay Scholarship Program average $6,900.

Brown believes, despite U.S. Supreme Court decisions to the contrary, that the law sends public money to private schools: “I do not like the voucher system because it will destroy the public school system.”  The tax-credit scholarships can be used at public or private schools or for other educational expense.

School choice advocates, however, say it is a win-win for students and schools.

“What we know from more than 15 years’ experience with tax-credit scholarship programs nationwide is that the U.S. Supreme Court has declared them constitutional, they ease the burden on state and school budgets, and most important they expand option s for students who desperately need them,” says Alger. “Quite frankly, every child has special educational needs in one way or another, and all parents deserve the freedom to pick the schools they believe are best.”

Since 2014 is an election year for all statewide offices, including governor and education secretary, Brown says “you can bet this is going to be a campaign issue.”


British teacher who faced 18 months of abuse from schoolchildren is facing dismissal after pushing boy who spat at him

A teacher is facing the sack after he pushed a 12-year-old out of 'pure frustration' when the boy spat at him and hit him in the face with snowballs.

Dean Macfarlane admitted that he had knocked the boy into a hedge but said that it came after 18 months of antisocial behaviour outside his house in Barnsley, South Yorkshire.

The problems for the IT teacher started in 2011 and since then the youths have gone into his garden, climbed on cars and garage roofs, damaged vehicles, and used tennis racquets to hit stones at people's property.

The situation reached boiling point in February when the 55-year-old said he confronted two boys who had hit him in the face with snowballs.

He reacted by pushing a 12-year-old boy, who spat on the ground in front of him, into a hedge.

Macfarlane ended up at Barnsley Magistrates' Court last Tuesday, where he admitted assault and was ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid community work.

He is now waiting to hear from the regulatory body, The National College for Teaching and Leadership, as to whether he can keep his job of 34 years.

But pupils and staff at the Doncaster school where he works have reacted with a flood of support for the well-respected teacher.

Following the court hearing, Macfarlane said the incident had resulted from 'pure frustration' last February, when he momentarily lost his temper after confronting two boys who had been snowballing him.

He said: 'For three days the house had been pelted with snowballs, covering all of the windows.

'On the day in question I was getting changed and heard "thud, thud, thud”.  I ran to the front door and saw the car had about eight snowballs splattered on it.

“I looked over the fence and saw a group of about seven lads, all aged 12 or 13m who gave me a load of verbal abuse and then set off running.

'A couple of them threw snowballs at me and I was hit in the face and body.'

At the time he shrugged off the attack, but 15 minutes later he went out and saw two of the youths who had thrown the snowballs and warned them to stay away from his house.

He said: 'The smaller of the two boys said, "It wasn’t me, I wasn’t there” and I told him I had just seen him as he was less than five feet away from me.

'Then the other boy spat on the floor in front of me. It escalated from there and pure frustration took over. I pushed the lad and he went into a hedge.

'It was completely out of character for me. I did not go with the intention of hunting down these lads and I wasn’t aggressive, but did end up pushing one of them which I am sorry about.

The former art and design teacher said: 'I’ve been a teacher for more than 30 years and this error of judgement has put my job under threat.

'It is all hanging up in the air and I’ve now got to wait to see if I can go back to work in September.'

A Department for Education spokesman said: 'The National College of Teaching and Leadership receive notice of police cautions and convictions given to teachers.

'If it is decided a case should proceed to a formal hearing before a teacher misconduct panel, our aim is to conclude all cases within 20 weeks of receiving the referral, but this can take longer in some cases.'


No comments: