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!

NYT on Tenure Reform

February 4, 2011

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Nothing quite signifies the intellectual bankruptcy of the unions better than this article. Faced with a significant national trend towards revoking tenure, the President of the NEA fires back with: an absurd story about an attempt to fire an Arizona teacher 30 years ago based upon a speech impediment that was actually an accent!

Mr. Van Roekel of the teachers’ union disagreed. Recounting a story that had the burnish of something told many times, he recalled that around 1980, when he was a union leader in Arizona, he had arranged to have a speech pathologist assess a teacher whom a principal was trying to fire because of a speech impediment. The pathologist determined that the teacher had a New York accent.

“She would say ‘ideer,’ instead of ‘idea,’ ” Mr. Van Roekel said. “The principal thought that was a speech impediment. Without a fair dismissal law, that principal could have fired her arbitrarily, without citing any reason.”


Could it be that I am the only one who has noticed that, despite all of the complaining that unions do about administrators, that the vast majority of them come straight out of the teaching ranks?  Furthermore, the state of school accountability in Arizona 30 years ago would have been zilch, either in the form of testing or parental choice. Such a dearth of transparency and competitive pressure would enable the arbitrary firings of staff of even effective staff. Oddly though, zilch in the way of accountability, whether in the form of testing with teeth or parental choice is the prefered policy stance of the NEA.

Strange that.

Further, the debate over tenure that I am watching involves complex discussions about methods for measuring teacher effectiveness rather than proposals for arbitrary and capricious firing. I wonder what debate Van Roekel has been watching.

NJEA Local Prays for Christie’s Death

April 9, 2010

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

The Bergen County Education Association, a local chapter of the NJEA, recently circulated a memo praying for the death of Gov. Chris Christie:

Dear Lord this year you have taken away my favorite actor, Patrick Swayze, my favorite actress, Farrah Fawcett, my favorite singer, Michael Jackson, and my favorite salesman, Billy Mays. I just wanted to let you know that Chris Christie is my favorite governor.

But remember, it’s those horrible tea partiers who are vitriolic, hateful, unstable and potentially violent!

I’m not sure which is more embarrassing for the NJEA, the fact that their local is circulating memos praying for the governor’s death, or the fact that their local is headed by a person whose favorite actor is Patrick Swayze, favorite acress is Farrah Fawcett, and favorite singer is Michael Jackson.

HT Jim Geraghty

No News — NEA Lies

June 20, 2009

You read it here on JPGB first.  The NEA sent a letter to members of Congress containing bald-faced lies about the DC voucher program.  Now the WSJ has picked up the story.  The WSJ wrote:

Public school teachers are supposed to teach kids to read, so it would be nice if their unions could master the same skill. In a recent letter to Senators, the National Education Association claims Washington, D.C.’s Opportunity Scholarships aren’t working, ignoring a recent evaluation showing the opposite.

“The DC voucher pilot program, which is set to expire this year, has been a failure,” the NEA’s letter fibs. “Over its five year span, the pilot program has yielded no evidence of positive impact on student achievement.”

That must be news to the voucher students who are reading almost a half-grade level ahead of their peers. Or to the study’s earliest participants, who are 19 months ahead after three years. Parents were also more satisfied with their children’s schools and more confident about their safety. Those were among the findings of the Department of Education’s own Institute of Education Sciences, which used rigorous standards to measure statistically significant improvement.

It should be no news that the NEA lies.  They do not have a commitment to the truth; their only commitment is to the interests of their members and leadership.  If that requires lying, they show no restraint.

The only news is that people, including the news media, public intellectuals, and policymakers, continue to treat the teacher unions as if they were credible actors in education policy discussions.  It is a mystery to me why they are ever contacted for comment by reporters or invited to serve on panels.  People who feel obliged to lie should be shunned and their opinions should never be solicited because their opinion can never be trusted as serving the truth.

I understand that the teacher unions have a right to exist, to represent their members in negotiations, and to attempt to influence policy.  But I don’t know why anyone should help them influence policy since they have shown such a callous disregard for truth and obsessive concern with self-interest.

Now I know that Leo Casey or one of his sock puppets might accuse me of being untrustworthy.  Here’s the difference:  While I might be mistaken, I am unlike the union folks in that my continued employment is not dependent on my holding particular opinions.  If I woke up tomorrow and decided that vouchers made no sense, I would be perfectly free to do so without penalty.  My position as a tenured professor does not depend at all on my believing that something  is true.

The same cannot be said for Leo Casey or other unions flacks.  If they woke up one morning and decided that vouchers were the key to improving the education system, they could not say so and expect to continue to be employed.  If they cannot change their mind without severe penalty, why would we believe that they are telling us their honest opinion now?  And if we can’t be sure that they are telling us their honest opinions, why would we ever ask them for their opinions?

I also know that some might accuse Matt or Greg of lacking the freedom to change their minds since they don’t have tenure like I do.  Actually, there is a remarkable amount of latitude at think tanks for people to say what they really think.  If you don’t believe that, think about Sol Stern or Diane Ravtich.  Besides, if Matt or Greg suddenly changed their minds they could pretty easily find work at another think tank that held a different view.  Where would all of the union people work if they changed their minds?

I say what I say because I believe it is the truth.  The teacher unions say what they say because they want something.

The Lie Seems to Be Spreading

June 15, 2009


(Guest post by Greg Forster)

Here on JPGB we’ve been tracking the progress of Dick Durbin’s lie that the DC voucher program didn’t show academic gains – which is all true except for the part where it says that the program didn’t show academic gains. (We’ve also had some fun passing along the AP’s reprot that Durbin tried to help Rod Blagojevich make a deal for Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat.) Now it would appear that we’ve made our way back upstream to the source.

A little bird told me the NEA has mailed out the following letter to all U.S. Senators. Note the line I’ve highlighted.

June 11, 2009

Dear Senator:

On behalf of the National Education Association’s (NEA) 3.2 million members, we would like to express our strong opposition to proposals reportedly under consideration in the Armed Services Committee to provide private school vouchers for military families.

Vouchers are not real education reform.  Pulling children out of the public school system doesn’t solve problems – it ignores them.  Real reform will put a qualified teacher in every classroom, keep their skills up to date with continuing education, and raise pay to attract and retain the best teachers.

Proponents of a military family voucher program have cited the District of Columbia voucher program as a model.  However, the DC voucher pilot program, which is set to expire this year, has been a failure.  In fact, over its five year span, the pilot program has yielded no evidence of positive impact on student achievement.

Vouchers are clearly not the right solution to ensure every student the highest quality education.  Voucher schools are permitted to maintain their admissions standards and can reject any public school student they choose.  They can reject students based on prior academic achievement and on the basis of gender.  Students with special needs often cannot find a private school that can serve them.  In contrast, public schools serve all students who come through their doors.

Providing vouchers for 750,000 students in military families stationed in the United States would be a huge expense.  These resources would be much better spent on to ensure ALL children the highest quality education.  The U.S. Department of Education has created the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) clearinghouse to help school districts, educators, parents, and other stakeholders choose programs that have been proven effective.  A brief review of their database revealed dozens of programs that have been scientifically proven effective at improving student achievement in reading and math, at increasing the likelihood of students staying in school and completing their education, and at improving the language and achievement of English language learners.  We have attached examples of these programs for your information.

Again, we urge your opposition to any proposals to create a private school voucher program for military families.


Diane Shust
Director of Government Relations

Randall Moody
Manager of Federal Advocacy

Of course, the whole letter is shot through with dishonesty – but it’s the sort of dishonesty that’s routine in politics. (E.g. The empirical evidence consistently shows that vouchers do in fact “solve problems,” not only by helping the students who use them but by improving public schools.)

The highlighted sentence, on the other hand, represents the kind of thing you normally can’t get away with. No matter how many Senators you buy.

Hey, here’s a question (and not just for Leo): If vouchers are really so bad, why do their opponents have to lie about them all the time?

Indiana Teacher Union Implodes like a Freddie

May 21, 2009

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

AIG, Bear Stearns, Freddie, Fannie, and now….the Indiana State Teachers Association!

The National Education Association has taken over the operations of the ISTA, its’ Indiana affiliate, due to “financial distress.”  ISTA’s medical and long-term disability insurance fund is projecting a $67 million deficit and is on the brink of bankruptcy due to very questionable investment management.  For instance, in a nine month timeframe, over 4,000 investment trades were made, many of which were in high-risk equities.

Question for Leo: when do we start that LLC? The fire-sale has begun! A mere $67m to buy a controlling interest in the political overlords of Indiana K-12 policy is cheeeeeeap!!

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 College Access Myth Marches On

June 11, 2008

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

In the May 30 edition of NEA’s Education Insider, the union makes the following request: “As we approach the graduation season, we are asking NEA members to share stories of your students who would like to attend college but cannot because of the cost. Stories will be collected and used to bolster the case for action by policymakers.” (Hat tip to America’s last education labor reporter.)

Here we go again. A while back, Jay and I ran the numbers using data from the U.S. Department of Education’s NAEP Transcript Study and found that the number of graduating 12th graders whose academic transcripts and possession of basic skills made them eligible to apply to four-year colleges was very close to the number of students actually entering four-year colleges for the first time: 1.3 million. The difference between the two figures was only about 42,000. The rest of the 4 million or so college-entrance-aged persons consists of those who either 1) dropped out of high school, 2) didn’t take the academic coursework (four years of English, three years of math, etc.) that is generally necessary to attend a four-year college (we reviewed the entrance requirements at a selection of low-prestige four-year colleges to confirm this), or 3) did not possess even basic reading skills. In other words, the college-entrance-aged population consists almost entirely of people who either entered college or were not academically qualified to enter college. A subsequent study Jay did with Marcus Winters confirmed the finding.

Obviously there are some non-traditional-age students entering college, and some students can get into four-year colleges without possessing the qualifications that are generally necessary to do so. (For more discussion of the methodological issues, see you know where.) But even if we allow a (probably over-generous) 10% allowance for these and similar factors, that still leaves us with about 2.4 million people who can’t go to college because they’re not academically qualified, as compared with about 270,000 who are qualified to go to college but don’t go because of all other factors combined. Some of those 270,000 will be people who are qualified to go but don’t want to, or are prevented by some other, non-monetary factor. So the number who are qualified to go and would like to go and are kept out by no other barriers but money would be some subset of that 270,000.

In other words, if our goal is to increase college access, focusing on people who lack access because of money is an extremely inefficient way to do it. You’re going to find a lot more “low-hanging fruit” in a pool of 2.4 million than in a pool of less than 270,000 (by this over-generous estimate). And that’s even before you consider that improving the academic performance of the K-12 system would create many other benefits besides just increasing college access.

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