Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Deception Goes Deeper: Friedrichs vs. CTA Part 2

Rebecca Friedrichs, the main plaintiff behind Friedrichs v California Teachers Association et al has not been working alone. She has been a strong proponent of National Employee Freedom Week (NEFW).

While the list behind the coalition of NEFW does not sound like the “who's who” of corporate educational reform, the size of this organization is disconcerting. All but eight states have organizations that support this cause which advocates for privatization of public education and destruction of unions. It is important to know who the players are. The two national founding partners behind this endeavor are the Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI) and the Association of American Educators (AAE). A person may question why NPRI is involved with such an endeavor, but keep in mind that this endeavor will not only hurt education, it will influence other unions. Las Vegas Casinos are a huge union industry. The devastation of unions for this city would be very beneficial to casino investors while being very harmful to the workers. This is evidenced in Atlantic City by Carl Icahn's recent replacement of pensions and benefits with 401K plans and insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

When you look at the Board of Directors for NPRI it is glaringly evident that this organization is stacked heavily with people that would seem to have a heavy personal interest in any union busting agenda. There is no voice representing middle or lower class citizens on this board. The list of Board members views as people that are directing policy, affecting thousands, while benefitting themselves.

Judi Cresanta - Founder
creator of Nevada's first Free Market Think Tank (NPRI)

Ranson WebsterChairman
Evergreen Capital LLC – invests in internet start ups and biotech projects

Nancy CroomVice-Chair
past involvement with golf and resort development, real estate broker

Bryan J DziedziakSecretary/Treasurer
Certified public accountant

George Balaban
Taxi/Limousine business owner

Bob Davidson
Co-founder of the Davidson Institute – a school for gifted children
Co-founder of Davidson & Associations – specializing in education and entertainment software (remember Math Blaster?)

Ben Ferahi
Real Estate
Monarch Casino and Resort, Inc

Deanna L Forbush
lawyer, licensed to practice in several states across the country

Steve Hardy
Zephyr Associates – portfolio analytical software company that targets pension plan sponsers,
money managers and financial consultants
member of the Cato Institute, an organization the receives funding from ALEC from

Gary Vouse
Aztec Inn Casino

William Weidner
Las Vegas Sands Casinos

At first glance, a person can see the business connections of this organization and see how following this agenda of union busting could personally benefit them. Digging deeper, other ties can be found. According to Sourcewatch, a center for Media and Democracy that tracks ties to ALEC there is a link between NPRI and the ALEC-connected Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity. Sourcewatch has this organization listed for its funding of reporters across the country that are known for reporting with a conservative bias. Expand the lens on NPRI to see that the organization is part of a larger group, the State Policy Network (SPN). The website for SPN touts school choice programs right on the homepage. The State Policy Network has created Heritage Foundation-like groups at the state level and has been exposed by the Center for Media and Democracy of being a main driving force of the ALEC agenda.

The Association of American Educators states on their homepage that is the largest national, non-union, professional educators' organization, advancing the profession by offering a modern approach to teacher representation and educational advocacy, as well as promoting professionalism, collaboration, and excellence without a partisan agenda. When you look at the staff list the last part of a partisan agenda comes into questions. Members on the staff have previous ties that display an agenda that can be said to have personal benefit, as well as involvement, with ALEC's political agenda.

Gary Beckner Founder, Chairman
past – involved in a coalition of independent education associations, proponent of school
choice, involved with redefinEd a group that is pro charter, magnet and virtual schools, connections with the Bush family

Colin SharkeyExecutive Vice President
past – project coordinator at The Heritage Foundation

Angela AshtonFinance Support Staff
past – bookkeeper for Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana (A+PEL), the group responsible for striking down collective bargaining in Louisiana

Carolee BairdRegional Membership Director

Piete BecknerDirector of Membership Services, California officers
wife of Gary Beckner

Debbie BrownMember Services Specialist

Bobette CraycraftCharter School Membership Coordinator
Lisa EvansLegal Services Liaison
Linda FeinerMembership Payment Processor

Alexandra FreezeSenior Director of Communications and Advocacy
past – worked for ranking member of the House Education and Workforce Committee
involved the The Heartland Institute, a group that partnered with ALEC to rollback renewable energy sources

Alicia HuntsmanExecutive Assistant/Office Manager

Kristi LaCroix Regional Membership Director, WI

Cecile MiddletonRegional Membership Director, NJ

Sharon NelsonDirector of Legal Services

Melissa Pratt Professional Programs Manager

Gary SingleRegional Membership Director
past – chairperson of the Riley County Educators, successful at vote to decertify from Kansas NEA

Cari Vedder Membership Services Specialists

Ruth Anne Vigil – Membership Support Staff

Alana WelchCommunications Coordinator
past – writing, marketing, and digital media for swing-state congressional and senatorial candidates and presidential hopefuls

The Association of American Educators Foundation Board (AAEF) has its own share of members with questionable intentions. While there is a presence of teachers on the Board, there are people with ties that are not necessarily in alignment with what we feel is best for our public schools.

Gary Beckner Founder, Chairman
(see above)

Becky Norton DunlopSecretary/Treasurer
Vice president of Heritage Foundation, ties to Bush family

Gene Bedley
Lift Up America – corporate training camp designed to lift leading financial managers

Guy Rice Doud
1986 National Teacher of the Year

Alan P. Dye
Legalcounsel for ALEC

DeLaina Tonks

Dr. Lewis Hodge

Dr. William Hughes

Tracy Valentine

When looking at all of this background, the pieces begin to fall in to place. The connections to ALEC and the Koch brothers are evident. The union busting agenda is present. The corporate Charter School Movement is participating and the profit making online education providers are getting their share.

The sponsors behind Employee Freedom week strive to have anything BUT employee freedom.

What action can you take?  Please send a letter to Justice Scalia - he could be the deciding vote in the case of Friedrichs vs. CTA that seeks to end unionism in this country.  All of the groups you have read about here are supporting an end to unionism in America. Here is the letter you can send to Justice Scalia (tweak as you see fit)

Justice Scalia
Supreme Court of the United States
1 First Street, NE
Washington, DC 20543

Dear  Justice Scalia:
  I am writing because of the concern I have regarding a case that you will hear in the fall called Friedrichs vs. CTA.  I am a public school teacher/parent ((insert your position for the letter)), and the nature of this case concerns me.   The power for our teachers to unionize is an important and vital aspect of public education.  I am in a teachers union/I support teachers unions (insert your position for the letter)).  I see the value of unionism for our children, our schools, our community, and as an important cog in the wheel that fights for social justice.

Unionized teachers are given the power and freedom through collective bargaining to be strong advocates for children and the communities they serve.   States in which there are strong unions tend to have higher state funding.  In the nation, we have ten states that are non-union.  Of those ten states only Virginia scores above the median.  It is clear that states without teacher unions and contracts are NOT doing better.   We need and want better for all of our children.   In fact many in education reform today look to the Finnish education system as the pinnacle of education.  Pasi Sahlberg, the director of Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture, stated, ""Without the union, we really cannot implement anything. Its role is securing and protecting the rights of teachers. It's a very important part of the system." 

In regards to the Friedrichs case, we feel that the basis for this claim is suspect.   The fact that the lead plaintiff in the case, Friedrich, speaks for vouchers, against a teacher's right to due process, and against teacher pensions is beyond disturbing.  As an educator in the field for over ___years I have seen vouchers pull much-needed funding from our public schools.  Teacher due process gives teachers the job protections they need to advocate for children. The pension system secures teachers, who are not lavishly paid, a stable retirement.   Why would any educator speak out on an agenda that seeks to destroy public education and the teaching profession? The claim is suspect in my humble opinion.

In conclusion, unions are the foundation that built this nation.  They are, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stated:
“…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.”

Thank you for your kind consideration.  Please read and consider the following


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