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As CRI continues efforts to expand and bring the efforts for economic and personal freedom to all Delawareans we recognize the thoughts from our former Director of the Center for Education Excellence, Jim Hosley.

In question are two articles which appeared in the News Journal this week: One on the news about the ‘priority schools’ announcement from the state and one on Moyer Academy’s closing at the end of the 2014-2015 school year. Here are Jim’s observations and thoughts:

  • Agree the six Wilmington schools are not performing.  Where has the Markell Administration been? These schools have had the same level of under-performance since the start of his administration. People on the street in neighborhoods have been saying the system isn’t working and they’ve lost six years with Markell’s deaf ear.
  • What has Markell been doing: launched a major statewide program that has not improved results statewide; created a foreign language program with specific attention to Chinese to make DE a world education leader (in fact he allocated over $2 million dollars to that program – great help for these 6 schools!); secured $119 million for Race to the Top (RTTT) and $49 million for early education but nothing for problem schools; dropped funding for start up funds for more charter schools; and teachers complain there is no consistency and more stress in classroom precipitated by programs imposed from above the school level.
  • Markell is in fact pointing the finger at teachers. No doubt there are problem teachers as in any business and schools need to be able to hire and fire in order to find and retain the right teachers – a system-wide problem. However when there is system-wide failure there is a systemic problem. A problem in a state with a large DOE that has grown under his administration.
  • The Administration continues to look to spending when in fact the question isn’t how much but where education monies are spent. It is time to look at all spending outside the classroom, focus on reducing those that do not prepare students, and re-direct savings to appropriate spending including targeted programs to overcome social issues that contribute to an environment that does not encourage learning and participation.
  • Why should the state establish salary objectives for education leaders? Because they are buying support and they like spending. I have no trouble with paying more but in the context of our current spending then the solution is to understand effectiveness and redirect reductions to contributors. DOE has to be a focus and review because it has been in charge, is bloated and is ineffective. Question: Why do we need a DOE department that employs about 150 more people by population than the average state?
  • It was nice to see the sense of urgency . . . but using as justification that 2000 more students will more likely go to jail than get a job is simply a nice touch given everyone already knows the issue. Urgency should have been from day one of the Markell administration. A tenure that has contributed to the problem with cumulative results of than more than 12,000 students  have already failed to street and drugs — where has the Administration’s urgency been.

What we need.

  • All schools serve the public good so any solution must be local and include using public, private, faith-based, blended school and homeschool opportunities.
  • Parents equipped with ESA’s do not have to wait for another elaborate scheme that will probably results in same failed results of other governments plans; and don’t have to wait for a Vision 2025! They can send their children to schools that deliver today (and they have capacity to accommodate more and given monies available will quickly grow more public and private because the monopoly is not in charge) the math skills, reading skills, functional literacy, and solid work habits to allow their children to grow up and find a good job. We do see this in all charter schools in Wilmington yet the DOE closed one and is closing another that serve the most underserved. How about closing underperforming traditional public schools.
  • Parents able to decide the effectiveness of schools and teachers by directing the funds set aside in savings accounts will make all schools more accountable. In many ways private schools are more responsive, more accountable and more open to direct participation. Choice provides a chance to  improve public schools that will have to focus effectiveness and budgets on what parents value, that will overcome hierarchical organizations that impose rules and regulations, and that increase more in-school and at-home participation that has been limited by the need to comply with elaborate state, federal and union rules and behaviors.
If you missed the recent news update about the lawsuit Dave Stevenson and CRI board member John Moore filed against DNREC and former DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara, you can read about it here.
While the ruling by Superior Court Judge Richard Stokes means Dave et. al. can proceed with the case because they have the standing to do so (a decision we expected- the state constitution says that on matters related to the state constitution and its interpretation any Delaware citizen has standing) they still have to win the case outright. Winning the case means tossing out the decision DNREC made last November when O’Mara was the Secretary- a decision to limit the number of carbon permits allowed to be sold to “polluters” in exchange for “permission to pollute”- a decision which has netted the state over $13.3 million this year from the private sector as of October 1. Losing the case means the decision stands- and DNREC’s action to limit the number of permits allowed to be auctioned for sale will cause electric companies to pay more for “polluting”, and they in turn will pass the buck to the consumers- all of us who live and/or work in the state. We believe what DNREC did was unconstitutional, and this is why Dave is the lead plaintiff in this lawsuit. Note: CRI itself is not involved in the lawsuit.
We need your help to make sure Delaware’s carbon tax vanishes. Please click here to open a PDF attachment with a letter asking your state representative to end Delaware’s participation in our cap-and-trade tax scheme. Then, mail or e-mail the letter to your representative. They may or may not listen to CRI, but all of us together can stop state agencies from raising taxes or fees on we the people whenever they feel like it, in direct violation of the state constitution!

CRI goes to Denver

Last week CRI was fortunate enough to attend the SPN 22nd Annual meeting in Denver. A few photos of the city:

Coors Field at sunset.

Downtown Denver at sunrise.

Downtown Denver at mid-day.

It was great to see almost 1,000 activists for liberty there to network and talk about best practices to advance freedom in the 50 states. Next year in Grand Rapids, Michigan!

Thirteen years ago today terrorists hijacked four airplanes, American Airlines flights 11 (crashed into the North Tower) and 77 (crashed into the Pentagon) and United flights 175 (crashed into the South Tower) and 93 (crashed near Shanksville, PA as the result of a courageous battle on board by the flight’s doomed passengers but which was headed for the Capitol in DC).

While time has passed and the memorials have been erected, that changes nothing that our world changed for the worse and has become even more dangerous than it was before. Now we live in a world where civilians are no only targeted, but their deaths are glorified on the internet. This enemy has no national identity, no official flag, and no government structure. They are bound only by their ideology and what they believe they must do to in its name.

The question is: Have we learned much in the last thirteen years? Our nation is in massive debt, more and more people a re unemployed, and the tax and regulatory burden has discouraged entrepreneurship. Checking the top trends on Twitter  as of noon today only three of the top ten trends on Twitter mention the day at all and on Facebook the top ten trends show ZERO mentions of 9/11, but one can find news about Charlie Sheen donating $1,000 to the waiter who says he was stiffed by Eagles running back LeSean McCoy and news that Stevie Wonder has new tour dates.

How will future years of children come to understand 9/11? Or will 9/11/01 be just another moment in time, casually mentioned between mentions of celebrity news and other social media trends?

So on this day, no matter what you do, remember the 3,000 Americans who died, both in the plane crashes, on the ground, and during the rescue process, and remember the millions of lives which changed forever because of the horrific actions of that day.

Through the help of our many supporters and volunteers, CRI has made considerable impact in many areas that affect the quality of life for us all.  With your help we can do more to “Impact Delaware”!

Did you know CRI has:

*Provided testimony to the Public Service Commission to offer credible evidence the Bloom Energy deal was bad both for ratepayers and for the environment?

*Supported a bill to bring Education Savings Accounts to Delaware families whose cannot afford to move their children out of a poorly performing public school? With Delaware dead last in student SAT scores but outspending 42 states and D.C. we cannot afford to continue to watch taxpayer dollars get misused while student achievement is not improving.

*Saved electric ratepayers in eastern Sussex County an average of $310 a year by working with the Public Advocate’s office and Public Service Commission to introduce a natural gas pipeline expansion downstate?

*Pushed the Public Service Commission to change how Solar Renewal Energy Certificates (SREC) are auctioned, making the bidding process open to more competition among electric providers and saving Delaware ratepayers an additional $115 million?

 

We are fighting every day to make Delaware a good place to work and live but we cannot do it without your support. Please consider a generous donation today.

 

After reading Matthew Albright’s article in the News Journal (“Virtually no Delaware Teachers Received Poor Evaluations”) those of us who are enthusiastic about improving the quality of education in Delaware had to stop and ask ourselves this question: Are there really no teachers in Delaware who are ineffective at teaching children?

We understand that ever-changing “standards” and severe fluctuations in education dollars for public schools makes teaching difficult for many who enter the profession. At the same time Delaware’s 51st overall ranking in SAT scores (mandatory testing was factored in and we are still last) should be considered unacceptable, despite whatever rankings the state was coming up with on the DCAS testing. The fact that two-thirds of all students, and four-fifths of low income, Black, and Hispanic students, cannot read or write at a grade level comparable to their peers in other states should be considered unacceptable.

There should be accountability for the two-grade gap between White students and Black and Hispanic students, particularly students in Wilmington and Dover. There should be accountability for why, despite the mediocre to poor results in Delaware’s public schools, the state has the fourth highest ratio of administrators to students and why Delaware employs as many “support staffers” as they do teachers in the public schools.

There should be accountability for why, out of $435,000 per classroom per year the state spends, 80 percent is not spent in the classroom.

Does anyone living in Delaware not think Wilmington has real problems? Wilmington and Dover, two areas with higher than average crime rates, would benefit from better education which will come only when there is a real movement for education reform.

Terri Hodges, president of the state PTA, was quoted as saying, “We support a fair evaluation system, but we can’t say that 99 percent of teachers are effective when we look at the number of student’s we’re seeing reaching proficiency or how we stack up to other states.”

We agree with Ms. Hodges on this statement. We would like to see a review of the Delaware Performance Appraisal System (DPAS) which is supposed to make sure ineffective teachers are removed from the classroom. Children are a nation’s most valuable asset and without well-educated children America will not be able to compete with children in other nations for jobs which offer good wages and a sense of security.

All of this starts with the Delaware Department of Education, the Delaware State Education Association, and the Markell Administration. Eventually the government and the public will have to acknowledge the poor service the state is providing education-wise to Delaware’s children. The first step will be to review this DPAS evaluation system to make sure it is there to protect students’ education and not teachers’ jobs. The second step will be to stop treating non-public schools as the enemy and instead welcome the opportunity to prove why public schools are a good option for parents and families through innovations where the student and parents are the VIPs and not the administrators in charge of collecting and disbursing funds. No child should be forced to play guinea-pig with her or his education experience to try out “standards” which have never been tested before. We at CRI hope the state and public will listen.

NEFW logoNEFW 2014 infographic

Original post from the National Employee Freedom Week movement http://employeefreedomweek.com/state/delaware/

National Employee Freedom Week takes place every August; this year workers’ rights to not be forced to pay union dues as a condition of employment takes place August 10-16.

_______________________

Because Delaware is not a Right-to-Work state, your freedom to leave your union is restricted, but you still have options to leave or reduce your union membership.

The first option is to become an agency fee payer, which means you only pay dues for the union’s cost of collective bargaining, contract administration and grievance adjustment. As an agency fee payer, you do not pay for any other activities, including the union’s political activities.

As an agency fee payer, you are not a member of the union, but since you continue to pay the “representative” portion of your dues, the union must continue to represent you fairly and without discrimination in all matters subject to collective bargaining.

As an agency fee payer you are still entitled to every benefit under the labor contract with your employer, including health care, pension, step increases, etc.

A generic letter to become an agency fee payer is here. You will need your union’s address and contact information. We recommend that you make a copy of your letter and either deliver it in person and receive a stamped copy or mail it with Certified Mail Return Receipt Requested Signature. This protects you in case, a union boss “loses” your letter. We also recommend sending a copy of the letter to your employer’s payroll department.

Although the generic agency fee payer letter includes text noting that your objection is continuing and permanent, some unions will not respect this and will make you annually resubmit your refund request.

For a smooth exit, you may have to leave during specific opt-out timeframe or “window.” Ask your union for a copy of your signed enrollment form to determine when your window is.

Download a generic agency fee payer letter.

The second option is to become a religious or conscientious objector. If you would like to become a religious or conscientious objector, go to ChooseCharity.org. ChooseCharity.org includes a simple application process that requires no additional out-of-pocket costs.

Once the application is submitted, the ChooseCharity legal staff will take care of the rest of the process.

If you become a religious or conscientious objector, your full dues equivalent will be deducted but made payable a charitable fund exempt from taxation under Section 501(c)(3) of Title 26 of the Internal Revenue Code. You will not be a member of the union, but are still entitled to every benefit under the labor contract with your employer, including health care, pension, step increases, etc.

If you think you may want to become a religious or conscientious objector, it is important that you do not request to be an agency fee payer.

State laws can differ depending on your profession, please consult with an employee rights organization if you have questions about your specific situation.

More Information About Your Rights

All Employees:

National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation

Workplace Fairness Institute

Your Rights (Center for Union Facts)

Unions and Union Dues (American Center for Law and Justice)

For Teachers:

Teacher Rights (AAE)

Coalition of Educators Against Forced Unionism

 

The bottom line is you, as an employee, should not be forced to pay dues to any entity you do not choose to without your consent. There is a reason private sector unionism is down: while pro-union proponents blame entities like CRI for being “anti-union” the reality is that the biggest push to end forced unionization comes from the employees themselves who are unionized and who see hundreds or thousands of union dues dollars taken from worker’s paychecks, especially at a time when household incomes are shrinking, to support political causes or union activities the rank and file do not agree with.

If you are interested in learning more about how you can legally leave your union and not pay union dues but still keep your job, please click on the links or call us at (302) 273-0080 or e-mail us at info@caesarrodney.org.

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