Latest Entries »

Simple resolutions are used to express the feelings or non-binding positions of a single chamber and/or deal with that chamber’s rules or internal affairs.   Simple Resolutions do not require the approval of the other chamber.  They are referred to as H. Res. (House) or S. Res. (Senate).

Advertisements

             Because I wasn’t happy about being told whom to for—or the fact that my money was being used to tell others whom to vote for—I decided it was time to get out.  The problem was that I wasn’t sure how to do that. 

             I had heard from several people that non-union teachers were treated rather poorly by their colleagues, but I couldn’t believe that.  I worked with the nicest, most caring group of teachers imaginable.  Still, because I had to ask someone, I sought out one of my fellow teachers who had always been very polite and helpful on just about anything.  She was one of my former teachers, and any time I had a question, I went to her.  And she was always more than happy to help.  I knew that she was very involved in union matters, so I thought she was the most logical person to ask about withdrawing my membership. 

             As was typical, she had a smile on her face that day when I approached her.  When I asked how to go about withdrawing my membership, her face turned very stern.  She looked me straight in the eye and told me that she felt that was the biggest mistake I could make.  She went on to explain that the state was full of anti-public education politicians, and that we needed to clean house with the next election (keep in mind this was late August 2010).  When I asked her who these politicians were, she responded, “Anyone with an R in front of his/her name”.  She then went on to tell me that I needed to vote all Democrat in the upcoming election.

            When I told her that I didn’t necessarily agree with a lot of the liberal/Democratic agenda, she asked me if this was because I had heard that the NEA supports abortion  (um, no, it wasn’t about that and, in fact, I hadn’t heard that) because, in her own words, “the NEA does not support abortion.”  She then went on to explain that that was just the assessment of the Tea Party racists.  Nice.  By the way, I looked it up just to see what the NEA’s stance is on abortion.  More on that later.

            Back to the topic at hand.  Since learning of my desire to withdraw my union membership, this teacher now treats me very poorly.  Instead of the cheery smile I used to receive when approaching her, I now get an annoyed look and hear a curt tone in her voice.  She avoids me whenever possible and often ignores me when I speak, pretending she doen’t hear me.  Other teachers are not as obvious, but I’ve noticed a difference overall in my coworkers.  Even though I failed to withdraw my membership, I guess I’m no longer part of the “in crowd.”  Sad.

Congressbulary Word of the Day: Act 

An act is a piece of legislation passed by the House or the Senate.  An act becomes a law once it is passed by both chambers and signed by the president.

The Indiana State Teachers Association, while it may be involved in political processes for the sake of education, is not supposed to endorse specific candidates. Union members’ dues are not to be used to endorse candidates that they may or may not support. That’s the job of one committee of elected union members: Indiana Political Action Committee for Education (a.k.a. I-PACE). All money used for endorsements by I-PACE comes from a separate fund of volunteer contributions. I am not on that committee, nor have I ever willingly donated any of my money to that committee. So my question is why, during the 2010 elections, did ISTA ask me to campaign for a certain Democratic candidate?

Why was I asked to fill out a commitment card calling for three hours of my time to “get the job done” by writing letters, working phone banks, participating in door-to-door literature drops, placing yard signs, etc.? I guess there’s nothing wrong with this; it is all volunteer work. But was I-PACE the one providing this commitment card, paying for the paper and ink? It didn’t say anything about I-PACE on the card. On the contrary, ISTA’s logo was all I saw printed on it. And, it said to return the card to my Association Representative—not to the I-PACE committee. Something didn’t seem right about this.

I have to ask myself just what are my dues being used for?  Well, when I look at my handy membership guide, Page 18 shows a pie graph depicting the distribution of dues dollars. According the graph, four percent of these dollars goes to government relations. Government relations? What’s that? Page 10 of the guide says that it is an ISTA department that “develops a pro-active political agenda.” That sounds a little suspicious to me. It sounds like none of my dues dollars are directly being used for particular candidates, but they are being used for a political agenda. Perhaps it is just the negative connotation of “political agenda” that makes me feel uneasy. I just thought this was supposed to be about education, not about a “political agenda.” But that’s only four percent. What is the majority of my dues dollars being used for at the state level? According to the pie graph, 53 percent is being used for UniServ, and according the ISTA website, “The ISTA UniServ program provides professional staff so members can be provided quality Association services.” Okay, that’s fine. But here’s where things get murky for me.

At the beginning of the school year, we had or first association meeting and our UniServ director—the woman whose salary I’m helping to provide—stood in front of the congregation of members and told us that, while ISTA usually doesn’t like to name political candidates for which to vote, this year they were. She then said the name of the Democratic candidate. It was then that I was informed of the commitment card that I would need to fill out to help with her campaign. This is the moment that I was awakened to the true colors of my teachers union. No dues dollars are to be used for political campaigns, but my dues dollars provide this woman’s salary, and she stood up and told me which candidate to vote for! And then asked for my commitment to help get others to vote for her! Is that not political campaigning? From that point on until the election, I continued to get several emails each day listing Democratic candidates by name for whom I was to give my vote.

Now you tell me, am I jumping to conclusions? Is it irrational to feel that my union manipulates its members through the possible misuse of our dues dollars?

Congressbulary!

In my quest to become more informed about the government—and to help others become more informed—I’m adding a new “Congressbulary” section to the site.  We’ll start with something simple and get more difficult as we go:

 Congressbulary Word of the Day:  Bill

 A bill is a proposed law.  Bills introduced in the Senate begin with an S., and bills introduce in the House of Representatives begin with an H.R.

If you’ve been watching the news the past couple of days, you’ve probably heard about the eighth grade ISTEP question leak.  The fact that this particular question was leaked is a little suspicious to me, but that’s not what I want to focus on here.  What’s bugging me about this leak is the way the media and the Democrats are spinning this story.  Several newspaper articles and news segments are reporting that many are upset with the particular question that was leaked and believe the question is politically motivated.  I’ve seen one particular article  circulating, which states this:

 Democratic State Sen. Karen Tallian of Ogden Dunes said the question asked students their opinion on vouchers that use taxpayer money to help parents send their children to private schools, a contentious issue in this year’s state Legislature, and questioned whether it was politically motivated.

“It’s a blatant attempt to collect opinion that supports the administration’s agenda,” Tallian said.

 I am bothered by this statement because I just happened to be testing eighth graders in my room this year, and I read the test question myself.  I originally included it here in this post but then realized it might not yet be safe enough to do that, so  I removed it and will add it in later (oh how I wish I could include it now).  However, I will say this:  nowhere in the prompt did it ask students their opinion on vouchers that use taxpayer money, nor did it even mention private schools.  Sen. Tallian’s statement is VERY misleading, and it seems more apparent to me that this question is being used to further someone else’s agenda.

It’s important to note that this is perhaps not the best reason for mistrust and is more of a personal grievance.  However, I feel it important to start from the beginning.

It all started back when I lost my job last summer—for the second year in a row.  The previous year I had been in a special position that required specific licensing with a minimum amount of teaching experience in one particular content area.  The union had been looking through the seniority list and had been wondering if perhaps another teacher with more seniority might be able to fill the position.  I was the only person on the RIF (Reduction in Force) list who met the qualifications required for the position.  In June when my principal and assistant principal pointed that out to those involved in the callback process (administration, school board, union), my union reps rubbed their chins and said, “We’ll have to think about it,” delaying my call back an additional month.  What was there to think about?  I can understand perhaps wanting to look over the list one more time just to make sure no one else was qualified, but something didn’t really seem right.  The more I thought about their response and the fact that they had previously been trying to get someone else in the position, I began to wonder if perhaps they wanted more time to find the loophole they needed or to get someone else licensed in that area.  Right or wrong, I don’t know.  It just seemed to me that rather than looking at the facts and considering the person most qualified for the job, they were willing to play small-town politics and put an unqualified person in the position.

To be continued.

I’m sorry, but this was just very humorous to me.  Keep in mind this is taken out of context, and he meant to say that the crowds wouldn’t exist, therefore not bringing in the business  that they do (at least that’s what I hope he meant).  I understand what Reid was trying to say (even if it is perhaps a bit of a stretch), but this made me laugh nonetheless.  

Check it out here.

You may recall a piece I posted in November titled “Shocking Recommendation from the National Education Association,” in which I expressed my shock and concern that the teachers union was recommending that association representatives (or those involved in grassroots organizing, as the NEA website refers to them) read Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, and I couldn’t figure out why they would want my building reps reading such controversial literature.  (I read the book myself, and you can view my thoughts here).

Then, last week in my “Grow, Up People” post, I expressed my frustration with the educational reform legislation that has been presented in Indiana, Wisconsin, and other states.  More frustrating than the legislation, however, was the way that politicians—particularly Democrats—and unions have been handling this legislation.  In the post I pleaded for everyone, especially those in Indiana, to grow up and start handling this like adults.

After reading my post, a friend of mine, you might know him as btownmike, emailed me with a response that got me thinking about things.  I felt his response was blogworthy and needed to be shared:

You’re exactly right, no one is acting like adults. They all just want to whine and complain and fight, and nobody wants to offer any real solutions. But the more I think about it, I think this may be intentional. The Republicans are thinking big picture, but if they can’t get the details right, they’re going to end up passing bad legislation. But rather than helping with the details and creating a good, working system, the union would rather have bad legislation so they can blame the Republicans for ruining the system. It’s a long-term power play. This is a huge aspect of Governor Daniels’s agenda for this term, and the union wants to A) create a glaring blotch on his record in case he runs for another office and B) ensure a Democrat Governor and Legislature in 2012. Despite all the protests and the rallies, I think they know it’s eventually going to pass. And they want to be able to say the Republicans broke the system so they can come to the rescue and “fix” the system, thereby ensuring a bigger voice and more power in doing so.

Considering btownmike’s thoughts and the fact that that the NEA has been recommending Rules for Radicals for a couple of years now, I’m wondering if the union has been planning for this.  It’s like they’ve been waiting for just the right opportunity to strike and strike hard.  This might not be such a big deal if it weren’t for the ties that the NEA and other unions have with progressive and socialist organizations.  Plus, there’s what Michelle Malkin posted on her website last week about “Weather Underground terrorist and FOO (Friend of Obama) Bill Ayers’ 2006 speech at the World Economic Forum in Caracas, Venezuela, in which he declared education ‘the motor-force of revolution’ while singing dictator Hugo Chavez’s praises.” 

Now, for all of this to make sense you MUST read Michelle Malkin’s post titled “‘Educate, collaborate, AGITATE!’: Alinsky’s teacher corps.” This is all a part of why I don’t trust the teachers union.  Time permitting, over the next week or so I hope to post a series of other reasons—things I’ve experienced at the local level and have been keeping quiet but now feel need to be exposed.

If you’re a frequent visitor to this site, you’ve probably noticed recent references to Gregory A. Boyd’s The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power is Destroying the Church.  I began reading this book because I’d found myself becoming more and more politically involved over the past year and had been personally questioning to what extent I should allow that involvement. 

I finally finished the book today, and I feel that it was a worthwhile read.  While I do not exactly agree with every point in the book, I’d like to recommend it to any politically involved Christian.  Boyd challenges Christians to decide where they draw the line between their allegiance to their country and their allegiance to the kingdom to God, and he leaves you examining to what extent—if any—the two coincide.

While this book provides good food for thought, I urge you read with shrewd caution and not allow your mind to mislead you.  For example, one of Boyd’s final points is about standing in solidarity with the oppressed.  He writes:

Jesus…exposed the ugly injustice of the Roman government and the world by entering into solidarity with a rebel race and letting us crucify him on the cross.  Jesus’ whole life was the kingdom of God, and his consistent sacrificial love, in solidarity with the oppressed, consistently provided a beautiful contrast to the ugliness of the oppressive kingdom of the world and the oppressive principalities and powers that are over it. 

As followers of Jesus, we are called to do the same.  While we, along with all decent citizens, should work against unjust laws by political means, our distinctive calling as kingdom people is to go far beyond this and manifest Calvary-quality love.  We are called to enter into solidarity with all who are marginalized and crushed by the powers-that-be and to allow ourselves to be marginalized and crushed along with them.  This Calvary-quality love exposes the ugly injustice of laws that marginalize and crush, and in this way, just possibly leads oppressors to repent  (183-184). 

Considering current events both home and abroad, one must be careful not to misread these words.  While we indeed may be called to stand in solidarity with the oppressed, it is important to note that we’re also in a spiritual battle against the forces of evil—and evil is always deceptive in the way that it presents itself.  We need to be vigilant, informed, and knowledgeable of whom we’re standing with.