State Issues Charge Against Holyoke Public Schools for Firing Union Leader

For Immediate Release:
August 21, 2015
Contact: Gus Morales, President Holyoke Teachers Association,   GusMoralesHTA@gmail.com
                
 
State Issues Charge Against Holyoke Public Schools for Firing Union Leader
 
The state Department of Labor Relations (DLR) has found “probable cause” to believe that the Holyoke Public Schools illegally fired Holyoke Teachers Association (HTA) President Gus Morales because of his activism as a union leader.
The DLR will hold a hearing on the complaint, which stems from a charge filed by the HTA on June 25. The DLR complaint is similar to a grand jury indictment; the upcoming hearing will have many of the characteristics of a trial, with witnesses and cross-examination.
“Because I speak out against policies that I see as bad for our students and bad for our educators, I have been targeted for two straight years,” said Morales, whose employment contract with the Holyoke Public Schools was not renewed at the end of the school year.
Morales, who does not have professional teaching status, was similarly dismissed at the end the 2013-14 school year after his election to lead the HTA. Then, as now, the DLR issued a complaint that found reason to believe that Morales was illegally terminated for his union activism. 
In that case, following the initial DLR complaint, the Holyoke Public Schools agreed with the HTA and Morales to return Morales to the classroom in November. Shortly thereafter, the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced a planned review of Holyoke Public Schools and its intentions to recommend that the district be placed under the control of a state-appointed receiver.
Morales and the HTA were vocal opponents of the takeover, which was imposed in April despite widespread objections from the community and several of its elected leaders.
“It is an outrage that an educator and leader such as Gus Morales, who has spoken out for the students and the Holyoke community, is being targeted for dismissal,” said MTA President Barbara Madeloni. “The MTA will not tolerate attacks on educators, especially when the attack is meant to cause fear among those who challenge the deeply flawed accountability system used to punish educators, students and communities. Gus has the courage to address the real issues affecting Holyoke — such as economic and racial injustice — and the MTA supports him and the HTA in holding the state accountable for providing resources that the community can use to combat these problems.”
Throughout stakeholder meetings to craft a “turnaround” plan for Holyoke Public Schools, Morales and others from the HTA raised concerns about the influence of standardized tests, the need to provide social services to students living in poverty, inadequate programs for students on special education plans, the lack of ethnic diversity in the teaching ranks and other issues that they felt that the receiver needs to address.
“Before I became vocal about the problems I see in our schools, I received very good evaluations. But once I spoke out, my evaluations turned negative,” Morales said. “The real story here is how the current evaluation process lets administrators target and eventually terminate educators who challenge their authority.” 

The Art of Deception: Friedrich vs. CTA


History is a great teacher. Now everyone knows that the labor movement did not diminish the strength of the nation but enlarged it. By raising the living standards of millions, labor miraculously created a market for industry and lifted the whole nation to undreamed of levels of production. Those who attack labor forget these simple truths, but history remembers them.   ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

History is a great teacher. Now everyone knows that the labor movement did not diminish the strength of the nation but enlarged it. By raising the living standards of millions, labor miraculously created a market for industry and lifted the whole nation to undreamed of levels of production. Those who attack labor forget these simple truths, but history remembers them.
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

History is a great teacher. Now everyone knows that the labor movement did not diminish the strength of the nation but enlarged it. By raising the living standards of millions, labor miraculously created a market for industry and lifted the whole nation to undreamed of levels of production. Those who attack labor forget these simple truths, but history remembers them. ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

History will remember.
Let Dr. King’s words lift our spirits in a time when unions are under attack.

Friedrichs vs. CTA will be heard in the Supreme Court this coming year. As research into this case is done, a disturbing sense of unease grows.

Here are the Plaintiffs

REBECCA FRIEDRICHS

SCOTT WILFORD

JELENA FIGUEROA

GEORGE W. WHITE, JR.

KEVIN ROUGHTON

PEGGY SEARCY

JOSE MANSO

HARLAN ELRICH

KAREN CUEN

IRENE ZAVALA

All of these folks are represented by The Center for Individual Rights. (More on them later)

Also listed in the lawsuit is the CHRISTIAN EDUCATORS ASSOCIATION INTERNATIONAL, more on them later as well.

Here is the screen shot of the cover sheet of the petition

Slide1 (1)
The issue at hand from the SCOTUS blog is whether Abood v. Detroit Board should be over turned and public-sector “agency shop” arrangements (a.k.a. mandatory union dues) should be invalidated under the First Amendment; and (2) whether it violates the First Amendment to require that public employees affirmatively object to subsidizing nonchargeable speech by public-sector unions, rather than requiring that employees affirmatively consent to subsidizing such speech.”

In plain English, the case will challenge whether Abood, which, according to Cornell Law, was established by a “Michigan statute authorizing union representation of local governmental employees permits an “agency shop” arrangement, whereby every employee represented by a union, even though not a union member, must pay to the union, as a condition of employment, a service charge equal in amount to union dues.”
Keep in mind that the plaintiffs in this case can, and Friedrichs did, opt out of paying full dues (non chargeable) if they do not want their money used for political purposes (this is in California).

Keeping this all in mind when analyzing the Friedrichs case, return to Dr. King’s statement:

“Now everyone knows that the labor movement did not diminish the strength of the nation but enlarged it.”

If Friedrichs successfully overturns Abood and removes “agency shop” fees many surmise it will destroy labor unions in the country. Exposure of the real intent of the Friedrichs case is necessary because the political nature of this case is alarming; not just because of its ability to destroy labor unions but because of the nature of the deception.

The Center for Individual Rights is the firm that is representing Friedrichs, the 9 other teachers and The Christian Educators Association International.

The largest donor to CIR are the Koch Brothers ($40,000)

The Koch Brothers have a long and prestigious resume of attacking public sector unions and two summers ago were instrumental in orchestrating the removal of a teacher’s right to due process in Kansas.

CIR also has a long history of fighting against Affirmative Action and supported the Boy Scouts in an attempt to keep out LBGT people.

Is the picture becoming clear?

Digest!

When looking at the main plaintiff of the case, Rebecca Friedrichs, a question is raised, “How is she associated with an organization that has a long history of opposing “affirmative action and other programs that attempt to restore racial/gender/sexual equality.”?

Part 2 of this expose will explore the connections.

Take a look at some statements explaining why she has supported this lawsuit.

In this Orange County register article she stated, “In 1993, I refused to support a union attack on a common sense voucher initiative that would have given parent’s choice in education and saved millions in tax dollars. Instead of respecting my rights and opinion, my union representative called me a “radical right winger,” and bullied me in front of colleagues. What was radical about protecting taxpayers and desiring the best for my students and their families?” http://www.ocregister.com/articles/union-631122-employees-unions.html

In this video clip she states that teachers get “cadillac pensions” and uses corporate reform rhetoric that due process protects “bad teachers.” (see beginning 4:32)

Also included in this lawsuit are the Christian Educators Association International. Who are The Christian Educators Association International? They are a teachers association with fees and dues. Here is their mission:

To Encourage, Equip, and Empower Educators according to Biblical Principles

Proclaim God’s Word as the source of wisdom and knowledge

Portray teaching as a God given calling and ministry

Promote educational excellence as an expression of Christian commitment

Preserve our Judeo-Christian heritage and values through education

Promote the legal rights of Christians in public schools

Provide a forum on educational issues with a Christian world view

Partner with churches, parachurch organizations, educational institutions and parents

Provide resources and benefits for educators including professional liability insurance

If you feel so inclined, meet and read about their director, Finn Larson. He claims their mission guides their focus in serving Christian Educators and in pursuit they:

Proclaim God’s word as the source of wisdom and knowledge

Portray teaching as a God given calling and ministry

Promote educational excellence as an expression of Christian commitment

Preserve our Judeo-Christian heritage and values through education

Provide a forum on educational issues with a Christian world view

Partner with churches, parachurch organizations, educational institutions and parents

And….by the way one other plaintiff in this case, Harlan Erhlich is a member of CEAI

Digest!

CEAI also seems to be partnering with Union Facts on an event called “National Employee Freedom Week” a coalition of 68 organizations in 40 states that promote union members opting out of their union.

Who is Union Facts? Sourcewatch describes Union Facts as “a secretive front group for individuals and industries opposed to union activities.”

Is the Friedrichs case really about First and Fourteenth Amendment rights?

Is it about mandatory union dues?

This is NOT about “agency fees” at all. This is not about First Amendment rights or Fourteenth Amendment rights.

This is about, contrary to what Friedrichs says, the destruction of unionism.

So, where do we go from here? We fight and expose the deception of this lawsuit. Call. It. Out! Spread. The. Word.

This is a concerted effort by the Koch Brothers, conservative factions, and religious entities to destroy the backbone of this country – labor unions who fight for social justice and who have a right to labor peace.

#solidarity

Detroit is Fighting Back!

Our urban areas are under attack!!!

Detroit has been pushing hard against the Emergency Manager that seems intent on shutting out the voices of the citizen to follow an agenda that does not help the citizens of Detroit!

Read more at http://www.mlive.com/…/…/detroit_school_board_alleges_g.html

http://www.dailykos.com/…/-So-we-did-this-thing-where-we-fi…

To learn more about the Title VI complaints that have been filed
click here >>>> https://goleftamerica.com/

Three things everyone can do.
1. Comment on media, write letters to the editor
Detroit Free Press >>> http://static.freep.com/lettertoeditor/

Detroit News >>> send emails to letters@detroitnews.com

2. If you were harmed or are a witness, fill out a complaint form at https://goleftamerica.com/complaints

Send the link to a friend that may have suffered harm.

3. Donate to support them in the work they are doing for these complaints. 30 complaints were filed on Aug 2nd. 80 more complaints need to be filed. People are working hard to document the real stories of the people of Detroit. Click here >>> https://goleftamerica.com/Donate

Detroit school close

Listen to the Voices of Educators!

TFA koolaid

 

To send this letter to your legislator, please click here

We are a coalition of over 55,000 public school educators, parents and advocates who support public education as the foundation of a free and democratic society. We oppose legislation that promotes or enables the privatization of our public schools. It has always been our concern that corporate interests have had too much representation and influence on Capitol Hill, overshadowing the voice of the public school educator.
In recent months, we have met with your offices to share our concerns about public education policy and to get a better understanding of the positions held by our representatives in Washington D.C. During the week of July 25, we initiated over 60 separate meetings with senators and congressional representatives. In meeting with your legislative aides, we were shocked to learn of the large number of Teach for America (TFA) alumni in your offices, presumably assisting you with shaping education policy. It is alarming that TFA has managed to infiltrate the halls of power in our government and to influence public policy behind closed doors because Teach for America advocates many policies that directly conflict with serving the public interest.
TFA operates with the specific purpose of providing temporary workers to schools that are responsible for educating our country’s children, and specifically, children who are living in impoverished areas. Their five week training period and two years of service do not insure that best practices are being used in the classroom and undermine the ideology that schools need the stability to best serve students. Additionally, the overall agenda of Teach for America includes relationships with the charter school industry and advocacy for high stakes testing. These are two reform items that have and are continuing to have a devastating effect on our public school foundation.
Teach for America uses its teaching program as a direct line into legislative assistant positions through the Capital Hill Fellows Program. We are taking a strong stance against the practice of hiring former Teach for America employees for any position that allows them to influence educational policy. Doing such ignores the voices of true educators with a background in education and experience in the classroom. At this point in time, as the agenda of private parties is showing direct attempts at using the school system for personal gain it is necessary to examine what policies TFA supports and whether these policies are truly what we want for our nation’s schoolchildren – rich, middle-class or poor.

To our Senators and Representatives we have two proposals:
1.Cut off government funding for Teach for America, allowing it to operate through donations and private support until we can determine that Teach for America truly represents the ideals of public education for all.

2. Establish a public school teacher liaison team in every state to facilitate better communication with our legislative offices and include these necessary voices in the decision making processes. The already established channels have proved to be exclusionary and the reality of our schools is not yet being represented as needed.

We urge you to contact a true grassroots movement of teachers that care about our schools and work on developing a plan where a truly democratic process in decision making can be achieved. We can be reached at contact.batmanager@gmail.com

Helpful Sources

True Cost of TFA Impact on Urban Schools
http://prospect.org/article/true-cost-teach-americas-impact-urban-schools

Teach for America: Review of the Evidence
http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/teach-for-america

TFA Supported Adding NCLB Punishments to ESEA Bill
http://dianeravitch.net/2015/07/29/gary-rubinstein-tfa-supported-inserting-the-nclb-punishments-into-esea-and-opposed-opting-out/

Teach for America Seeks Help Promoting Itself on Capitol Hill
https://deutsch29.wordpress.com/2015/07/28/teach-for-america-seeks-help-promoting-itself-on-capitol-hill/

Why I did TFA and Why you Shouldn’t
http://garyrubinstein.teachforus.org/2011/10/31/why-i-did-tfa-and-why-you-shouldnt/

APPR/VAM WILL GO ON TRIAL IN NY SUPREME COURT TOMORROW

Sherri

 

Many NY BATs and their allies will be traveling to the capital of NY tomorrow to stand in support of NY teacher Sheri Lederman. Sheri, a celebrated teacher in her district, went from an “effective” teacher to an “ineffective” teacher in one school year. She (and her husband who is her attorney) courageously and bravely sued the NY Education Department and Commissioner of Education John King. There will be oral arguments in NY State Supreme Court tomorrow and NY BATs will be there. To read more on this case you can read this article in the Washington Post. 

We will be tweeting ‪#‎APPRonTrial‬ tomorrow so if you tweet, please join in. Show the world how ridiculous VAM is and use your experiences to bring it to light. Please post messages of support for Sheri below in the comments. We will be sharing them with her. Remember ‪#‎WeRallSheri‬

Governor Christie, We Will Not Turn the Other Cheek!

me
Abusive Christie

As a national organization dedicated to purposeful action to support educational professionals and America’s children, we would be remiss in our mission if we were to take lightly presidential candidate Chris Christie’s recent statement on CNN that the national teachers union deserves a “punch in the face” for being the most “destructive force” in America. Our duty must extend beyond a call to action to expose a presidential candidate’s bullying attack on teachers unions. Now is the time to show how these statements are symptomatic representations of what is a national agenda.

The 21st century in the United States is a time of profound social inequality, with great economic prosperity for the few and a steady erosion of the safety net for the rest of us.  It is incumbent on educators to expose the systemic tearing away of the fibers of unionism itself through this and countless other attacks. These attacks have come not only from presidential candidate Christie, but from politicians and public figures that stand to directly and personally benefit from seeing an end to unions in this country. Christie’s statement is a call to arms for all unions to unite against  the common enemies who have union busting agendas as we face future battles, including the impending Supreme Court decision in the Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Association. Unions were once an essential tool in the establishment of the middle class in the US, fighting for equity within our society. As we face a further threat to economic equity, we need to call upon the ideals of unionism and strengthen protections for society as a whole, including additional support for our marginalized populations.

Exposing the national anti-union agenda must not be our only goal in the wake of presidential candidate Chris Christie’s repugnant statements. Such a blatantly violent, misogynistic term must not be tolerated from a sitting governor, let alone a presidential candidate.  It is necessary to call into question the term “punch” Christie uses when referring to the teachers’ union. This language is a specific attack on women who comprise 70-73 percent of education professionals and are a minority sector of our population. As a governor, Chris Christie and other elected officials are charged with the representation of their constituents. Those entrusted with governance are representatives of all people – men, women, and children – and all are called upon to condemn these statements.