Do teachers really believe they’re paid to preach political views to kids?

We were dismayed a few weeks ago when hundreds of union teachers in Oakland, California skipped work and forced the shutdown of several schools, in observance of the *Occupy* movement’s national strike day.

We thought their commitment to their students should come before their outside political activities. We wondered how they could be so passionate about national tax issues, but fail to display the same type of concern about educational quality issues.

Here’s what the teachers pledged to do:

During the week of 10/31 to 11/4, I pledge to teach about: the Occupy movement; the role of strikes in movement history; the systems and issues this movement is protesting against; the possibilities for change this movement is part of envisioning; what students need to know about how to stay safe during these protests.”

Unique lesson plans

Several teachers shared their ideas for lessons on the “Teach Occupy Oakland” website. “The use of Israeli-made weapons in Oakland police violence,” one wrote. “International solidarity,” another wrote. “Oakland history of blues, rap and protest,” was an entry from a music teacher. “Wealth distribution” was another lesson topic.

Okay, we get it. Oakland schools are chucked full of radical left-wing teachers who hate America’s economic system, despite the relatively high standard of living that most of us take for granted.

Those teachers, as private citizens, certainly have the right to believe anything they want.

If political issues are going to be discussed in public school classrooms, all sides should be presented in a balanced and equal light, so students can weigh the arguments and form their own opinions. We’re certain that “99 percent” of Oakland parents would agree with that assessment.

School administrators in Oakland, and throughout the nation, have an absolute responsibility to put an end to this gross misuse of class time and taxpayer dollars. And the taxpayers of America should pay close attention and make sure they do.

UNION WANTS MONEY EARMARKED FOR STUDENTS
Just down the road from Oakland, in the Alameda school district, the teachers union has been busy working on behalf of its top priority.

It seems the district was in the rare position of having $ 1.1 million left over from last year’s budget.

Alameda school board members, being the student advocates they are, voted 4-1 on Oct. 25 to use the money to purchase textbooks, fund programs aimed at boosting math, reading and writing skills, pay for after-school programs at two underperforming schools and establish a program designed to encourage parents to be more involved in their kids’ education.

But the Alameda Education Association, the district’s teachers union, objects to that plan. Union leaders want the money spent on bonuses for teachers. School board members say they will take care of the teachers in the next round of contract negotiations, which are scheduled to begin in January. But that’s not good enough for the union.

WE CAN DO IT, BUT YOU CAN’T

The local Republican Party made the unusual move of endorsing 4 of the 15 school board candidates who were on the ballot this year in Michigan’s Plymouth-Canton school district, according to the Detroit Free Press. What’s even more amazing is that the local teachers union found something wrong with that.

Teachers unions are infamous for trying to hire their own bosses by closely vetting and endorsing school board candidates in just about every district in the nation. Their strategy is to elect a majority of union-friendly board members who will give them their way at the bargaining table, and hire administrators who will let them call the shots at work.

But Ken Fistler, president of the Plymouth-Canton teachers union, had the gall to suggest that First Amendment rights shouldn’t apply to the local Republicans. He said the party’s endorsement of certain candidates “takes away the ability from anyone who isn’t affiliated with a party to run.”

Teachers unions are very partisan as well, spending a great deal of time and money supporting Democratic candidates for local, state and national offices. There is a current scandal in Sussex County, New Jersey, where a group of union teachers apparently used a middle school classroom to make campaign calls on behalf of local Democratic candidates.

NO PLACE IN SCHOOL FOR MEDIOCRE TEACHERS

We at Education Action Group have talked to countless school superintendents over the years regarding various issues, and we’ve generally found them to be intelligent, fair and knowledgeable.

Many of them were teachers and came up through the union ranks, so they understand the labor point of view. Yet they are responsible for balancing school budgets and producing literate graduates, so they understand the management perspective, as well.

The Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents recently sat down and debated current educational issues, and produced 134 recommendations to improve public schools and better serve students.

We suspect the Connecticut superintendents have put their finger on a very real problem that will have to be addressed in schools across America, or they will never come close to reaching their potential.

SCHOOL SPENDING DOOZY OF THE DAY

Safoorah Khan had been a math lab instructor in the Berkeley, Illinois school district for less than a year when she asked for three weeks of unpaid leave in 2008 to travel to Mecca, a Muslim* holy site in Saudi Arabia.

According to the Muslim faith, all believers are required to make this trip at least once in their lifetime.

But Khan wanted to leave immediately before exams, and the school pointed out that she was the only instructor in her department, according to VisionToAmerica.org. The school also noted that there were no contractual provisions for any teachers to take three weeks away from work for religious purposes, the website said.

Needless to say, her request was denied. Could she have made this trip during the three-month summer vacation period? Perhaps, but that ultimately would not have been as profitable.

The Obama Justice Department sued on the teacher’s behalf, arguing that the district had violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act by denying her request. The school eventually settled out of court by agreeing to pay the teacher $ 75,000 and establish a sensitivity training course for district personnel.

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