Thursday, October 11, 2007

Communiqué for the Week of October 9, 2007:

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e-mail autobots, so plain English works fine!

1) Public Education Workforce Hits 10.3 Million. Those of us who are in or around public education don't normally spend a lot of time thinking about its place in the greater American economic picture, but the latest employment numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics ought to change that.

I don't know when BLS started disaggregating government education employment from other employment, but the numbers are startling. As of September 2007, there are more than 7.9 million local government education employees. That is, people who work for school districts and other local education agencies. An additional 2.4 million work in education for state governments. The combined 10.3 million employees makes public education the third largest sub-category of employer in the United States, behind only the health care and the "accommodations and food service" industries.

The entire public education workforce has grown by 1.3 percent since September 2006, though I can guarantee student enrollment hasn't grown anywhere near that amount. The numbers prompted Wall Street Journal reporter Brian Blackstone to call public education hiring this year "robust."

We are living in a period of relatively low unemployment, but the nationwide figure of 4.5 percent for September 2007 is almost double the unemployment rate for government workers, which sits at 2.4 percent.

Enrollment vs. hiring is currently a local problem (Detroit and Pittsburgh, for example) that may soon become a state problem (Vermont) and eventually a national problem. But that's several elections down the road, so who cares?

2) Night of the Living Ed. If you think Halloween is scary, you haven't seen anything like… the Miller-McKeon NCLB discussion draft hearings! EIA's Video Intercept for October features all the hair-raising scenes that will put you on the edge of your seat. Repeated screenings at or on YouTube.

3) Around the States. This stuff keeps piling up…

* The Idaho Education Association regains the right to deduct dues from teachers' paychecks.

* The Nevada State Education Association will propose a ballot initiative to increase gaming taxes and spend the money on booze and women – no, I made that last part up. The union wants the money to go into public education's coffers. Under Nevada law, such a constitutional amendment requires approval in two separate elections, in this case 2008 and 2010. I wonder where NSEA will get the money to run this campaign? Yes, that's rhetorical.

* The telenovela that is the Teachers Association of Long Beach (California) continues its run with allegations of financial insolvency. Press report here, but inside poop here.

* NEA Alaska thought it was through with the fallout from the charges against former executive director Tom Harvey, but the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a second lawsuit against the union on behalf of another female employee claiming discrimination.

4) Walk a Mile in Your Shoes. NEA is running a campaign called "School House to the White House" in which presidential candidates take part in school activities for part of a day, ostensibly to learn firsthand the trials and tribulations of public school educators – although John Edwards' visit was during lunchtime so maybe he learned about mystery meat.

This "you couldn't do my job" thing has been around for a long time, and certainly isn't unique to teaching. But anyone who writes or speaks critically of public education is bound to receive an invitation or two to "try it for a week and see if you can take it." I certainly have, and over the years I have developed a few observations about these come-ons:

* Teaching college graduates whose math errors could literally kill you doesn't count as real teaching.

* No one offers to let me run the teachers' union.

* No one offers to try running a small business at a profit.

* If I taught, and I stunk, what would you do if I refused to quit?

Teaching is a tough job. The toughest part, in my opinion, is taking crap from snot-nosed kids that you would never tolerate from an adult. If you want presidential candidates to learn something about public education, don't trot them in and out of your school for two hours with a passel of flunkies and reporters. Embed one of their education policy staffers for an entire school year.

Not practical? How many campaign staffers are currently planning these photo-ops? They can't spare one for what they repeatedly state is the nation's most important domestic issue?

5) Blast from the Past. The NEA-affiliated University of Hawaii Professional Assembly hired Kristeen Hanselman as associate executive director. The last time Ms. Hanselman surfaced on these pages she was in the midst of the Washington Education Association's campaign disclosure fiasco that resulted in fines for union back in the late 1990s.

6) More NCLB 2.0 Names. A few late entries in the race:

No Public School Left Standing

No Child Shall Get Ahead

The New Basics for the 21st Century

The Standardized Kid Law

Just Say No to Concepts

Overall, I'd say we had some pretty good tries, but I think I have to follow the lead of those classical piano competitions and declare "no winner" this year.

7) Last Week's Intercepts. EIA's blog, Intercepts, covered these topics from October 1-9:

* Hillary and the AFT. Too much analysis chasing too little news.

* Devil's Advocate. The fourth branch of government.

* Does Pandering Pay? I wonder how John Edwards feels about his campaign strategy today.

8) Quote of the Week #1. "Both chambers are working tediously toward that goal." – Roberto Rodriguez, staffer for Sen. Ted Kennedy, answering a question about whether NCLB will be reauthorized by the current Congress. (October 4 NCLB: Act II, Education Week blog)

Quote of the Week #2. "God knows." – Charles Barone, former staffer to Rep. George Miller, answering the question "What could your old boss do to appease the NEA but still have a bill that improves NCLB?" (October 9 This Week in Education)

Trolling for Suckers, You are all exposed

Trolling for Suckers, You are all exposed

Ok Marshall, lets talk about real lack of security, who at the Utah Democratic Party forgot to turn on the security feature of site meter? It’s been really fun collecting all the access information since the sock puppet site went live. I especially love the anonymous post comments that can be tied directly to their IP address.

As far as all my domains, (I own hundreds by the way) they are all sub accounts under my main domain “thespyglass” so of course spyglass is listed, it is on all of them.

Hide the directory, what for, I’ve nothing to hide, and what better flashing, shining lure to a newbie is a directory listing. Your repeated attempts to get access was quite amusing, of course everything you tried to do I have documented. Some of you were pretty creative, but what did your discover “NOTHING”

What exactly do I do for a living people? What does my Blogsite say I do? What did I tell people who replied to my email I was going to do with the information?

First let’s talk about the law:

Prohibited by law from making any “expenditures from public funds” or providing anything of value to influence the outcome of any election. U.C.A. §§ 20A-11-1203(1), -1202(3) (defining “expenditure”), -1202(5)(a) (defining “influence”), and -1202(9)(a) (defining “public entity”). In other words, it is not only morally wrong for school districts and their subunits to utilize taxpayer funds and taxpayer-provided resources to peddle their point of view, it is a crime. Id. § 20A-11-1204.

Email sent to Teachers and Government Employees

You are receiving this email because of your connection to education
here in Utah. As I'm sure you are aware that the pro-voucher organization is pulling out all stops to get School Voucher's approved here in Utah.

We have no way of telling how you feel on this issue, but if you support our cause to defeat this pro-voucher movement we would ask you to reply to this email. Additionally we would warn educators to not use their School District, or Government email addresses during this campaign.

If you support our cause, we ask you to provide a personal email
address, name and contact number so we can keep you informed. If you do
not support our efforts, do nothing. We will assume a non-reply to mean
that you wish no further contact from our organization.

Email sent to Political and Policy Activists

You are receiving this email because of your active involvement in politics and policy here in Utah. As I'm sure you are aware that a pro-voucher organization is pulling out all stops to get School Voucher's approved here in Utah.

We have no way of telling how you feel on this issue, but if you support our cause to defeat this pro-voucher movement we would ask you to reply to this email so we can build an action list of anti-voucher supporters. We ask you to provide a personal email address, name and contact number so we can keep you informed.

There is a website that we would like you to see and post comments about some of the articles. The most recent posting about an abc news story must be put down before it receives traction.

The Website is

Latest email sent to those who responded to the above

Please go to these websites and post comments to tell these pro voucher people what Utahans’ for Public School really think.

This is what I’ve been doing since the 1980’s folks. You may not like what I do, but I’m very good at what I do. I probably have the most accurate anti-voucher email list available here in Utah. I wonder what the Teachers Union would be willing to pay for this. Hummmmm

Mark Towner