National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen Garcia is in town today to talk politics ahead of Hillary Clinton’s rally.
Here are some questions we hope she gets asked:
WHY IS THE NEA FUNDING AN ARIZONA BALLOT INITIATIVE THAT WILL HURT SCHOOLS?
The NEA on October 3 contributed $250,000 to the effort to pass Proposition 206, which would dramatically raise the minimum wage in Arizona by nearly 50 percent. The union contributed another $100,000 on October 21. [Source: https://www.azsos.gov/sites/azsos.gov/files/2016_1101_ballot_measure_notifications_-_10k_notices.xlsx, See tab 201600474.]
Not only will the big spike in labor cost hurt small employers, young people and those with fewer skills, but it will hurt schools. [Source: “Prop. 206 minimum wage hike would hit schools’ bottom line,” Arizona Republic.]
District and charter schools will have to come up with the dollars to cover an increase in the cost of hiring and employing cafeteria workers, aides, crossing guards and other support staff.
Why is the teachers union backing an initiative that will hurt its own constituency?
DID THE NEA INTEND FOR ITS CONTRIBUTIONS TO BE DIVERTED INTO CANDIDATE RACE INDEPENDENT EXPENDITURES?
The Proposition 206 campaign is now spending its donors’ dollars in candidate race independent expenditures. [Source: “Backers of higher Arizona minimum wage use extra cash to target candidates,” Arizona Daily Star.]
What’s the problem? You can’t do that.
As state Sen. Debbie Lesko made clear in a letter to the Arizona Secretary of State:
It is my understanding that these expenditures indicated that Yes on 206 is acting as an independent expenditure committee. Therefore, it should be required to register as a separate political committee within five days of making the expenditures. They have not yet done so and are clearly mingling different political committee financial accounts. ( See A.R.S. § 16-901(15). See A.R.S. § 16-901.01(A).)
So, did the NEA know its dollars were going to be used for I.E.s? Does the union support the candidates its dollars are being used to support?
HOW DOES THE NEA EXPLAIN THE BIG GAINS BY ARIZONA CHARTER STUDENTS IN NAEP SCIENCE SCORES?
According to the NEA’s Charter Action Guide, the union maintains deep skepticism over the effectiveness of charter schools:
“It cannot fairly be claimed that charter schools outperform similarly situated public schools. Indeed, to the degree charter schools perform better it tends to be related to their exclusivity and selectivity.” [Action Guide page 21]
But recent big achievement gains by Arizona students in NAEP science scores show charters are the big leaders in closing the achievement gap. [Source: “NAEP Science Gains for 4th Grade Students (2015 minus 2009 scores) by State and AZ Charter School Students.” Arizona eighth-grade charter students also doubled the performance of the next closest state, Utah.]
How does the NEA explain this high performance?
TO WHAT DOES THE NEA ATTRIBUTE THE OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY CHARTER STUDENTS IN THE PHOENIX URBAN CORE ON THE AZMERIT MATH SECTION?
If the NEA attributes outstanding performance to charters’ “exclusivity and selectivity,” then how does the union explain the outstanding performance by charter students in Phoenix’s urban core on the AzMERIT math exam?
“There are 219 schools serving nearly 130,000 students. When looking at the top 20 public schools that performed the best in math, we see two REALLY important things: half are district schools and half are charter schools. And most importantly – please set down your coffee and focus – HALF of the schools serve a majority of low-income students, and half serve a higher wealth population.” [Source: Excellence in the Phoenix Urban Core, Sigmund and Keegan, Sept. 27, 2016.]
SHOULD TEACHERS ACROSS THE COUNTRY GET TO CHOOSE WHETHER TO JOIN A UNION?
Fewer than half of teachers nationally are represented by a labor union. [Source: “Fewer than half of teachers now covered by unions,” USA Today.]
The NEA has lost 200,000 members over the last four years. Why are teachers leaving the NEA in droves? [Source: “NEA aims to revive organizing a membership drops,” Education Week.]
Does the NEA support right to work laws like those in Arizona?
Does the NEA believe union membership in the teaching profession should be compulsory?