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Archive for the ‘Civil Rights’ Category

This week is National School Choice Week, a week where we draw attention to the need for parents and families to have School Choice as an option for all students.

No doubt this week is under fire from school choice opponents who worry school choice is a corporate, Koch-brother funded project to destroy public schools and, more importantly, public teacher’s unions,but those of us who believe in “free to choose” ask just one question:

1. “Who is more likely to make a better decision about a child’s future: That child’s legal guardian, or elected and unelected officials in state capitals and Washington D.C.?”

If you believe government officials, union leaders, school boards, superintendents, Department of Education employees, and politicians can all make a better decision about your child than you can, school choice is not something you will support. But if you believe schools should be run at the local level, with fewer mandates from above and more support for those who are there day-to-day, and if you believe students are unique human beings who should not be forced into “one-size-fits-all” based on their parents’ financial ability to find another school, then school choice week is for you.

If you believe there should be accountability for performance in our education system, without automatically blaming teachers and parents for poor performance, instead of the system which has been created, school choice is for you.

If you believe public schools who wish to have your child attend should have to work hard for your tax dollars, like every non-monopolized market in the private sector (i.e. sectors where companies use government to give themselves business or hurt competition), instead of requiring children whose parents aren’t rich to go to a school based only by their zip code, school choice is for you.

If the thought of stagnating academic performance, the rising number of students who enter college needing to take remedial classes, and the high drop-out rate for both high school and college bothers you, school choice is for you.

If you believe money spent on education, where Delaware spends to the tune of $13,000 per student per year and $16,500 if you include capital spending (refurbishing or building schools, source: DE DOE), ought to be spent efficiently and with the student’s best interest at heart, school choice is for you.

If you feel genuinely heartbroken every time you hear about another shooting in places like Wilmington, and know most of those young people get involved in drugs and gangs because they don’t have hope for a better future, school choice is for you.

If you are concerned about the values being spread in society at large, and would like to see your child(ren) be placed in a school setting which is closer to the values you wish the child to learn, school choice is for you.

If you believe America is a great nation with a lot of untapped talent among our youth, and want to see students use their talents in the best way possible, school choice is for you.

And lastly, If you believe a high-quality education is a fundamental right for each child to have, then school choice is for you.

If you believe school choice is something we can all work for together, then join the Caesar Rodney Institute in celebration of National School Choice Week, and let’s support #SchoolChoice!

Why do you support school choice?

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The College Board recently released new SAT data for 2013-2014 and for Delaware it doesn’t look any better than last year. On the positive side Delaware is no longer 51st in SAT scores and 16th out of 16 “High Participation Rate” states and D.C. (70% or greater participation). The state moved to 50th this year and 15th out of 16, surpassing Washington D.C. in both categories.

Total average SAT scores, class of 2013-2014:

Critical reading: 456

writing: 444

math: 459

Total: 1359

For college-bound seniors the numbers improve slightly:

Critical reading: 497

writing: 487

math: 513

Total: 1497

The number best estimated to predict success at the college level is a total score of 1550 for the entire SAT. Delaware scores nearly 190 points below average. 26 out of 51 states and D.C. reach this 1550 threshold. The CATO Institute studied Delaware and factored in the mandatory SAT testing, and even weighted we are still near the bottom. Even when factoring in only high school seniors who attended any college institution this year, the average scores were still below 1550.

Another interesting note: for college-bound seniors, writing scores dropped 10 points from 2006 for both boys and girls, and both boys and girls score 32-34 points lower respectively in reading than in 1972. Math was up 4 points combined since 1972, with girls making slightly bigger gains.

Excluding the writing section, in 1972 the average college-bound high school senior in Delaware earned a 1039 on their SAT’s, while the class of 2014 had a mean of 1010. Meaning, we’ve DROPPED in proficiency, particularly in reading, from the 1970s. Remember, these are seniors who went to college this year. We aren’t counting those who didn’t go.

The only real way we can move forward is to agree that only a robust range of education options for children will allow children to learn as best they can. A one-size-fits-all public school model does little to understand that some students do better in bigger classrooms, others smaller. Some students may do better with the parent as a teacher and for others cyber school may be a better choice. Even among charter and magnet schools there are diverse options, such as the First State Military Academy set to open in Clayton later this year, which is a Junior ROTC program charter school for which some students will benefit from more than others who enter. For some kids and parents issues like safety, school hours, or programs will determine the best options.

The point is we want a system which allows parents or the children’s legal guardians to choose the place best suited for the kids. There is absolutely no reason a child’s fate should be determined by their zip code or that a child should attend a school which either a) is not serving them properly, or b) is not suited to the child’s best method of learning, simply to appease those whose primary interest is keeping the system as-is.

It’s time we made education options available for all children. Visit our website www.caesarrodney.org and sign up for our e-mail newsletters. See what you can do today to make tomorrow’s education a better experience for all children.

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wallpaperput.com

2015 will soon be upon us and for those who are passionate defenders of freedom and liberty our work just goes on when the clock strikes midnight. Here is CRI in review and our goals for 2015:

  • Dave Stevenson’s lawsuit against DNREC and former DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara is still ongoing. Dave and the other three plaintiffs, including CRI Director John Moore, won standing to continue their lawsuit. We will refrain from making a prediction on a court ruling less we jinx the lawsuit but we are optimistic the Plaintiffs will win. This is because in order to get standing the Plaintiffs had to prove they had a valid reason to sue in the first place, such as being aggrieved by the Defendants actions. Winning means stopping DNREC from changing the rules on how many carbon permits can be sold at carbon auctions, saving Delaware taxpayers over $100 million a year in increases in utility bills.
  • We testified in favor of HB353, the Parent Empowerment Education Savings Account Act (PEESAA). Jim Hosley, our former CEE Director, spoke in favor as did a dozen Wilmington parents and grandparents (and one student!) and the leaders of Tall Oak Classical Academy. The bill was tabled in the House Education Committee, a move we are unfortunately not surprised by. However, we hope 2015 will be a better year as more and more people realize the need to improve Delaware’s education system, and the only effective way to make the changes our students need to be prepared for the future is to provide parents with school choice options to do what’s best for the child. CRI will always maintain the belief that parents and/or legal guardians can make a better choice about their children’s education than politicians and bureaucrats in the state Department of Education.
  • We brought in Dr. Bartley Danielsen, business and economics professor from North Carolina State University to keynote our Sixth Annual Dinner. Dr. Danielsen has proposed a theory tying in environmental benefits to school choice. The basic theory is, parents moved to the suburbs to flee poorly performing public schools which left a lot of people uneducated and unable to find respectable work, and many turned to crime as a result. His theory is if inner city schools were to improve their quality, many families would move back to the cities from the suburbs and the result would be a reduction in traffic and environmental pollution from people driving from the suburbs to the cities. View is presentation here and here

In addition to these challenges, we still have issues Delaware must resolve in order to improve our economy:

  • End to the prevailing wage which makes public construction costs so expensive many end up getting no work at all. See: Rockwood Museum.
  • A Right to Work law for Delaware. Union leaders are pushing the “scab” theory that somehow union members will drop out and reap all the benefits the union “works” to get. We have responded by noting that a) manufacturing businesses have responded by moving factories elsewhere, depriving Delawareans of job opportunities. See: loss of auto industry, Valero plant, Evraz Steel plant, Georgia Pacific plant. b) as a moral issue, should union bosses have the right to take someone’s money just because someone works at a particular location? What if the union bosses don’t serve their member’s needs, such as organizing or donating to political causes or candidates the members don’t support?

We wrote: “While in the short run unionization may force wages up for those involved, in the long run closed shops reduce capital spending and induce the out-migration of jobs and workers.”

Read HERE and HERE and HERE

  • tax reform. Delaware is one of just five states with a gross receipts tax (tax on sales, even before factoring in profit/loss and expenses). Three of the other four don’t have an income tax and the only state with both like Delaware is Virginia who has lower tax rates. Coupled with high corporate and personal income taxes while Nevada and North Dakota compete with us for corporate business, and without reforms we will see money and jobs leave the state at even higher numbers.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays, and a Happy New Year to all. Let’s be thankful for a good 2014 and hope for better things in 2015.

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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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Please read the following guest post from Larry Koch, special contributor on for the Center of Education Excellence at the Caesar Rodney Institute.

One of the reasons I retired from educational administration from a rural Maine school district was a cynical method to increase taxes that a number of my colleagues engaged in. This is how it worked:

1)        The town, usually fed up by double digit increases, would demand that the district lowered expenses by let’s say 2%. This should not have been a difficult task to do in a multi-million dollar budget.

2)        After a number of hearings (to show that they tried) the Superintendent would come out with a proposal that would cut sports, after school programming, AP classes and special education.

3)        The constituency groups for all of these programs would show up, howling for their children, at every board and town meeting, until-far too often- the proposed cut was dropped, and often a tax increase was agreed to.

The reason this scenario was so cynical was that it had been choreographed in advance, and concerned parents were manipulated into doing something that was destructive to the community, and ended up with farms being closed and people defaulting on their taxes. Education was not advanced, and the bureaucracy was engorged. School officials could have surgically applied cuts so essential and popular programs were saved, but they chose not to do so! Yes, they would have been criticized by somebody, but that is why they got those inflated salaries; to show some leadership!

Instead they turned the most active consumers of public education, the parents, in effect against the most economically vulnerable people in the community, seniors and struggling family farmers, in a conflict that leaves the community weaker and in no way improves learning. 

That is basically the scenario for the sequester debate. Our 16 trillion dollar government with some imagination should be able to absorb a cut of 2%. Instead, the administration plans on across the board cuts, highlighting the effects it will have on schools, the disabled, transportation, etc.,. The government, if it showed some leadership, could identify areas where little damage would result from reducing expenses, but refuses to do so, unless taxes are raised. This is a cynical- after the fact – grab for more money; the sequester legislation never mentioned a tax increase, but Obama would never allow an opportunity for this to pass without notice. Sequester would allow the president and departments to fine tune their cuts, as long as it came up to the required amount, but they have chosen not to do that without a tax increase.

Just like that school district, Washington’s continuing, insatiable demands for endless growth is demanding to be fed, and a cynical method has been employed to achieve that end. This was bad enough when it was done locally by petty school administrators- but now Washington has taken a leaf from their book! How pathetic!

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John Nichols, the plaintiff involved in the suit against Governor Markell and five members of the Public Service Commission, has filed a suit in New Castle County Superior Court against the Coastal Zone Industrial Control Board (CZICB). This is in direct challenge to the CZICB’s rejection of John’s allowance for standing in the case. The board ruled 4-3 around 10:30 AM on June 13th that John had standing, but at 4 pm on the same day voted 5-0 with 2 abstentions to say John didn’t have standing after all. The debate centers on whether John can be considered an “aggrieved” person since Bloom’s “energy servers” have not actually been built yet. John’s argument is that since these boxes, based on studies and evidence presented at the hearing, WOULD harm the environment and Delmarva Power ratepayers, he will be directly harmed by the CZICB’s decision to deny him standing. If the Superior Court finds in John’s favor, the CZICB would be required to go back and review the case based on the science of the “energy servers”, and John would be considered to be an aggrieved individual in this case.

A copy of the complaint:

IN THE SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE

IN AND FOR NEW CASTLE COUNTY

JOHN A. NICHOLS,

Appellant,

V. CA. N0. N12A-07-

STATE COASTAL ZONE INDUSTRIAL

CONTROL BOARD, DELAWARE
DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL

-RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENTAL

CONTROL, and DIAMOND
GENERATION PARTNERS, LLC,

Appellees.

NOTICE OF APPEAL

Appellant John A. Nichols (“Niohols”) hereby takes appeal pursuant to  Del. C. § 7008

and Superior Court Civil Rule 72 from the decision announced by the State Coastal Zone

Industrial Control Board (“B0ard”) on Wednesday, June 13, 2012 which denied him standing to

pursue an appeal of the grant of a permit application to Diamond State Generation Partners, LLC

by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources And Environmental Control on the grounds

that the evidence in the record established Nichols possessed standing under the broad “any

aggrieved person” statutory scope of 7 Def. C. § 7007(b).

ABBOTT LAW FIRM

Attorneys for Appellant John A. Nichols
Dated: July 2, 2012

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A bill to allow residents of Delaware’s public housing communities to possess firearms was passed Tuesday by the House, with broad bipartisan support.

House Bill 357, sponsored by Rep. John Atkins, D-Millsboro, and Sen. Joseph Booth, R-Georgetown, was introduced in response to a series published by the Caesar Rodney Institute titled: “Delaware Public Housing: Disarmed by Decree.” The series revealed that all public housing residents in Delaware are banned from owning firearms, despite the fact that many live in high-crime areas.

In addition to the legislation, the series also prompted a lawsuit by the National Rifle Association, which recently filed suit against the Wilmington Housing Authority, seeking to force the agency to drop its gun ban.

HB 357, which must now go to the Senate, states:

No public housing authority operating within this state shall have or exercise the authority to regulate, prohibit or otherwise restrict a lessee/tenant of a dwelling owned and operated by such public housing authority from lawfully owning or possessing ammunition, arms or components thereof in such dwelling for the defense of self, family, home and State, and for hunting and recreational use and transporting such ammunition, arms or components thereof to and from such dwelling.

The bill includes an amendment, which was narrowly passed by the House, that will allow the public housing authorities to prohibit firearms in common areas of their properties.

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