NEA “Cognitive Linguistic Analysis” Conducted by Wile E. Coyote

February 9, 2015


(Guest post by Greg Forster)

ALELR draws our attention to Conor Williams’ reporting on a rich, rich vein of hilarious tomfoolery at NEA. Williams has a leaked memo in which the NEA uses “cognitive linguistic analysis” to change reality by using magic words. As ALELR points out, some items in Lily Eskelsen’s “cloven hoofed minions” speech appear to have been driven by this magical thinking.

But wait, it gets better. One of the union’s magic words is “the right ZIP code.” Apparently people aren’t much moved by complaints about “inequality” so the unions will seek to advance the redistributionist agenda by saying that a quality education should not depend on living “in the right ZIP code.”

How long do you think it will take the NEA’s soooooooper geniuses to figure out the problem with that approach?

Scandal! Big Education Conference Subordinates Education to PROFIT!

May 22, 2013


(Guest post by Greg Forster)

Kudos to ALELR for this shocking expose – a major education conference is trying to destroy our schools by subordinating education to greedy profiteering BUSINESSES!

Do As WEAC Says, Not As It Does

March 15, 2011

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

For weeks, Wisconsin teachers represented by WEAC, the state’s NEA affiliate, called in “sick” so they could join the union protest in the state capitol. Schools closed, and parents were left to take care of their kids on no notice – to say nothing of the loss to the kids’ education.

Priceless development: ALELR points out that WEAC has a contract with the union that represents its own employees – the union’s own union – and in that contract WEAC’s employees are forbidden to engage in union activities during normal work hours.

Pot, this is kettle. Kettle, pot.

In other Wisconsin union news, ALELR reports that the Milwaukee union is dropping its notorious Viagra lawsuit. The teachers who want this medication, he observes, are now left to stand on their own.

Seriously, What Is Up at UFT?

February 28, 2011

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

I’m catching up on this a little late, but ALELR has connected a couple of dots and drawn a picture of things at the UFT that can only make you say “Epic Facepalm.”

OK, you do remember the whole Cue Card Check scandal? At the time, Randi Weingarten was so embarrassed that she was forced to go out and claim she knew nothing about all this – cue cards? what cue cards? – and would “make some changes in the union.”

I missed this at the time, but last summer Elizabeth Green (who also broke the Cue Card Check story) reported that Marvin Reiskin, the UFT political director, had taken early retirement in the aftermath of the scandal. He was lined up for retirement at the end of the year anyway, but forcing him out early – even a month early – beats doing nothing. It sends an internal signal, however muted.

Obviously UFT had to be looking for a replacement who would restore credibility. Their number one priority after such a humiliation must have been to bring in someone who would restore adult supervision – and, more importantly, be seen to do so – show the watching world that the grownups were back in charge at UFT.

So get this: the person tapped to play that role was Paul Egan.

I think the question now becomes: why does UFT have an organizational culture in which people like this consistently rise to the top, no matter how strong the external incentives against it?

Blogs at Ten Paces!

May 17, 2010

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

Over the weekend, ALELR ran the numbers on Technorati and posted the Top 20 Education Blogs on his blog, Intercepts. Coming out on top – Joanne Jacobs. But what do you expect given that she’s married to royalty?

Tied for #10? Jay P. Greene’s Blog and . . .  Intercepts.

I say we settle this like men – on the field of honor. There can be only ten!

Ignorance May Be Bliss, But It Makes Bad Policy

September 4, 2009


(Guest post by Greg Forster)

ALELR draws attention to some problematic details in the Gallup/PDK poll finding on Americans’ support for charter schools.

 I hate to draw attention to the PDK poll, since its voucher support question has been shown to be misleading in a way that drives down the appearance of voucher support by an astonishing 23 percentage points. But I feel pretty safe because the PDK voucher question has lost so much credibility that it’s not really very dangerous any more.

So back to the charter school question. PDK finds 64% of Americans support charter schools. That’s the topline. But guess what else you find if you look below that?

A majority of Americans don’t think charter schools are public schools.

57% believe charter schools charge tuition.

71% believe charter schools can select their own students.

Perhaps vouchers and charters were separated at birth.

Bear that in mind the next time you hear charters are more popular than vouchers. First of all, I doubt that it’s true – I’ve seen plenty of polls with around 64% support for vouchers. But on top of that, how sure are we that when people say they support charters they don’t think they’re supporting sending children to private schools of their choice using public funds, which is the very definition of a voucher?

Image HT I Think I Believe

More Teacher Union Sock Puppetry

April 29, 2009

Henson and Kermit.jpg

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

Recently we had a lot of fun with the Leo Casey/UFT “cue card check” story. But one fact that I don’t think got a lot of attention (here or elsewhere) is that this is far from the first instance of teacher union sock puppetry.

In this week’s Communique, ALELR highlights another one – the NEA’s longtime practice of setting up dummy organizations that are entirely controlled by the union, but conceal this fact and present themselves as independent voices. This week he highlights ROVE (Republicans Opposing Voucher Efforts), which, from the evidence ALELR presents, sure looks a whole lot like it has the NEA’s arm sticking out the bottom.

Apparently their strategy is to pay a whole chorus of voices to sing out of the union songbook, while hiding the singers’ union connections.

Say, I think I feel a song coming on myself…

Why are there so many songs about unions?
And choruses on their side?

The singers are honest and independent
And they have nothing to hide

So we’ve been told and some choose to believe it
I know they’re wrong, wait and see
Someday we’ll find it – the union connection
The reformers, the reporters, and me!

The UFT’s “Cue Card Check”

April 15, 2009


All images from GothamSchools, whose Elizabeth Green broke the story

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

Last week, the UFT got caught handing out cue cards to New York City Council members before a public hearing of the council’s education committee. The council members dutifully asked the questions they had been given, which pointedly invited anti-charter diatribes from the teacher-union and DOE witnesses.

The members then unanimously voted to make Grigori Potemkin their new committee chairman.

Internet wags are calling the scandal “cue card check.” ALELR has consulted his deep moles within UFT and offered an intriguing report on the union’s strategy for the Council’s next hearing.

The cue cards have to be seen to be believed:




That’s “questions for Leo” as in our dear friend and Sith apprentice Leo Casey, who testified at the hearing. My pledge to you, the reader: from now on, every time Leo posts calumnies about Jay, I will post a link to this story.


And that’s “questions for DOE” as in officials from the Department of Education. The cue cards were handed out by the UFT, but is it plausible that the department officials had no idea they were being asked scripted questions?

HILARIOUS UPDATE! When I first posted this, I didn’t look closely at the handwritten edit made to this cue card. Check it out – note the spelling. And this is from an organization of teachers!

This story doesn’t seem to have broken out of the local circuit yet, but it’s getting a whole lot of attention in the city media. The Daily News is leading the way, documenting the extent of UFT political contributions to the council members who got cue cards and covering Randi Weingarten’s attempts to deflect blame by claiming that a charter school organizer once did the same thing. (Not true, says the organizer – and who has more credibility here?)

But ALELR notes that props are not being given to Elizabeth Green of the blog GothamSchools, who broke the story and snapped all the pictures you see above (and more, which you can enjoy in all their glory by following the link).

Green wryly notes that the cue cards with accusatory anti-charter questions were handed out by “a representative of the city teachers union, which describes itself as in favor of charter schools.”

Reporter in Bed with School Official, Literally

September 27, 2008

A series of e-mails between reporter, Tania deLuzuriaga, and a senor Miami-Dade school official, Alberto Carvalho, suggest an affair between the two while deLuzuriaga covered Miami schools for the Miami Herald.  deLuzuriaga has resigned from her job at the Boston Globe, where she moved last fall.  And Carvalho’s  selection as the new superintendent of Miami-Dade schools is in jeopardy.

The most alarming part of this story is not the affair itself, but how the affair distorted news coverage.  In addition to documenting the relationship, the emails detail how deLuzuriaga attempted to shape her reporting to preserve her relationship with Carvalho and how he bullied her about it.  In this exchange we see that Carvalho argued with deLuzuriaga about her coverage and she apologizes, asking for “understanding” about not quoting him more and giving him more credit:Carvalho

And in this e-mail deLuzuriaga explicitly apologizes for not helping Carvalho more and pledges that “we ought to act in ways that help one another”

Carvalho2Unfortunately, too many education reporters, especially outside of major cities, are in bed with school officials — figuratively.  They depend upon those officials for access and treat their pronouncements and views as accepted facts when they should be much more skeptical. 

If you want to see some examples of the rare investigative education reporter, check out Scott Reeder or Mike Antonucci.

It’s a Sign, All Right!

September 23, 2008

HT digitalius

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

When former Pinellas County teacher-union head and “national NEA activist” Doug Tuthill became president of the Florida School Choice Fund, Jay announced that dogs and cats were living together. (By coincidence, in the same week The Onion ran this, one of their best ever.)

Not so fast, says America’s Last Education Labor Reporter. “Tuthill has always been something of a union maverick,” notes ALELR in his latest communique. “He was a new unionist well before NEA President Bob Chase took up the call and made it official policy. Tuthill’s essay in the February 1997 NEA Today, headlined ‘Time to Face the Hard Truth,’ could have been written today – which might explain why Tuthill has gone over to the Dark Side.”

ALELR quotes from Tuthill’s article: “The traditional role of education unions has been to protect members from the negative effects of dysfunctional school systems. That’s not enough anymore.” As recently as 2004, Tuthill was calling for new unionism to “rise from the ashes” and was pushing for NEA involvement in charter school management, membership services for private schools, and “supporting” home schoolers.

Well, I read “Time to Face the Hard Truth,” and frankly, other than that one line about how unions should do more than protect teachers from being fired, it all looks like standard NEA boilerplate. “Today’s education unions must take on the task of transforming these systems. Our primary goal must be to create learning systems in which all adults and children achieve at high levels.” Etc. Etc. Etc. These days the NEA just has computers write this stuff for them, switching the words around so we don’t notice (e.g. “Today’s education unions must take on the goal of transforming these learning systems for all adults and children. Our primary task must be to create systems in which all achieve at high levels”). That frees up more time for them to hang out in their member-funded stadium skyboxes and go on those all-important conference trips.

So ALELR is right that the essay “could have been written today,” but not by a reformer. This kind of fluff only passes as deep thought among the “wow, man, kids need so much” crowd.

In the article, Tuthill talks about a teacher who was being fired for incompetence: ” ‘I know I haven’t done a good job,’ she said crying, ‘but I’m doing the best I can. These kids have so many problems, I just don’t know where to begin. What am I going to do?’ “

What happens? The union saves her job, and Tuthill is glad that this incompetent teacher is returned to the classroom. He sees her as a “victim” of “dysfunctional systems.” His only regret is that more effort (read: money) isn’t being spent on teacher training to help ensure that future teachers won’t be incompetent:

I was pleased that our union had helped her, but the episode bothered me. This teacher had been the victim of a series of dysfunctional systems. She was poorly trained, improperly placed, and not adequately supported. Consistent with our traditional advocacy role, we helped her, but we did nothing to change the systems that caused her problems.

Even that line about unions doing more than just protecting teachers from being fired gets it wrong. What does he say the union is protecting teachers from? “The negative effects of dysfunctional school systems.” I guess any school system that wants to fire a teacher is by definition dysfunctional.

Tuthill gets a little maverick cred simply for mentioning the fact that unions do help prevent teachers from being fired, but is that all it takes to render Tuthill’s move to the school choice movement a yawner?

With all due respect to ALELR, if Tuthill has signed on to lead the charge for school choice, it’s clear that he’s made a lot of progress since 1997. Dogs and cats are indeed living together. Now it’s just a question of how many more politicians realize that they can save the educational lives of millions of registered voters.

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