It is a National Issue but it’s not about The Unions

I want to make a note that this was posted last night at Daily Kos before the announcement that the strike was over.  It was in response to a post over at Red County and an attempt as a parent to make some sense of the highly polarizing rhetoric that is taking place over this issue.  I don’t hide my politics but I also make sure to be respectful of others political leanings because I know where I live and I feel that the common ground we all share is so much bigger than what divides us.   A community is made up of everyone within the community not just those in power or those with the most money, or of those who have the majority of the registered voters.  We all matter in this conversation.  I want to thank those who have taken the time to read and listen here.

South Orange County, Capistrano Unified School District is in day five of its teacher’s strike and I’ve argued it’s a National issue in quite a few diaries.

So, why do I believe this is a National issue?  Because of The Education Alliance, who backed this board and because of Pacific Research Institute, which produced a documentary touting the take over of the district by this slate of “reform” candidates.

The argument of the Education Alliance is that the public school system isn’t working because “the control of our education system by the elite, liberal bosses who run the teachers unions”.

The Education Alliance began to become the organization committed solely to giving a voice to parents and teachers who support excellence for our children through means other than the liberal, self-serving policies of the teachers union leadership and their allies in the education establishment.

The district is working, the teachers are the reason why our schools are competitive and the students are high achievers as well as passionately involved parents.  Pacific Research Institute, another big player in the privatization of public schools, would like you to think otherwise, that communities like Capo are dysfunctional.  PRI has been touting their documentary, Not as Good as You Think: The Myth of the Middle Class School which attempts to paint this as an issue of public education, which it is not.  It’s an issue of corrupt and ineffective board of trustees.  And they were corrupt, it’s why so many parents wanted them gone, so beginning in 2006, recall candidates started to replace the corrupt board and replace it with new slate of “reform” candidates who would restore out district to sanity and transparency, or so we thought.

Pacific Research Institute is using this documentary of the chaos and supposed reform to push their expansion of privatization of public schools and rather than support the structure that is there, the system that has proven to be successful for many years in the past, they are asking for funding for Charter schools and vouchers, which will further weaken our public school system.  This is their rallying call.

Not as Good as You Think was the first-ever study to evaluate student performance in schools located in California’s middle-class and affluent neighborhoods. While this study focused on California, its findings received national recognition. The book was the subject of an editorial by the Wall Street Journal, as well as the basis for Lance Izumi’s appearance on CNBC’s Kudlow & Company. The authors of Not as Good as You Think gave major addresses at the Heritage Foundation, briefed staffers in the White House, the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the U.S. Department of Education. Op-eds on the book’s findings have appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, New York Sun, San Diego Union-Tribune, San Francisco Examiner, and other newspapers across the country.

In California, Lance Izumi and Vicki Murray briefed Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s top advisors, state legislators, legislative staff, and key education policymakers.  As a result, for the first time in six years, five school choice bills were introduced in Sacramento. The historic number of bills included an opportunity scholarship, a disability voucher, and a safe schools voucher.

Emphasis mine

This film was also brought to Washington and shown to people in Congress.  It’s not an Orange County problem, it’s not just a California problem, this is a National issue.

WASHINGTON – A libertarian think-tank that prominently features the Capistrano Unified School District in a documentary about how the U.S. public school system is broken will screen its 49-minute film this afternoon on Capitol Hill.

“We have made a national impact here in Capistrano Unified,” said Recall Committee leader and parent Tony Beall, a Rancho Santa Margarita city councilman. “It’s nice that our efforts are being recognized at the U.S. Capitol.”

The 2:30 p.m. screening will be hosted by two leading GOP lawmakers – U.S. House Republican Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, and U.S. Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the senior Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee.

OC Register

So, there is a trail here of players and one of them is Tony Beall.

OC Register June 24, 2008: HIGH FIVE:Tony Beall ), left, member of the CUSD recall committee, high fives his wife Jennifer, as they celebrate election results that recalled CSUD trustees Sheila Benecke and Marlene Draper and the election of trustees Sue Palazzo and Ken Maddox to replace the ousted board members. Mike Winsten is in the background as is Craig Alexander. Mr Alexander is on the Board of Directors for The Education Alliance.

So now it’s all about tracing the money. And not only Education Alliance financially backed the reform trustee slate, but one of the PAC’s founders, Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson.

The latest campaign filings through Oct. 24 show that the Recall Committee received 78 percent of its contributions this year from three groups that have specific social agendas:

  • $23,000 from the Tustin-based Education Alliance political action committee, a self-described “back to basics” group that opposes health clinics and bilingual education in schools, advocates for school voucher programs, and believes teachers unions wield too much power and influence. The contribution was received Oct. 24.
  • $35,000 from Irvine-based Fieldstead & Co., the personal foundation of Home Savings & Loan heir Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson and his wife, Roberta. Fieldstead & Co. gives to a number of religious groups, including charities, and political causes like California’s Prop. 8 same-sex marriage ballot initiative. A $10,000 contribution was received June 23, followed by a $25,000 contribution Oct. 7.
  • $5,000 from the Newport Beach-based Family Action PAC, a self-described “socially conservative” group that “focuses on business, family, and social issues,” according to its Web site. The contribution was received June 19.
  • And directly from our local Red County Blog, a press release from Education Alliance regarding the recall touting their successful backing of the current Board of Trustees.  They are just as pleased as punch to have gotten their way.  They should be, it cost them a lot of money.

    And they are proud of their win, they flaunted it.   Here is an excerpt:

    Dear Education Alliance Supporters:

    The credit for this victory rests primarily with the CUSD Recall Committee, and it leaders, Mike Winston, Tom Russell, and Tom and Jennifer Beal. They have been working on this for 5 years and have devoted countless hours to documenting the problems in this district, gathering signatures, and campaigning.

    The Education Alliance also played a major role by providing financial support that was instrumental to the effort. Many of the funds for this purpose were raised at the Dennis Prager dinner last year, which many of you attended. The recall opponents attempted to make the Education Alliance an issue by orchestrating newspaper stories and emails with dire warnings of outsiders trying to take over Capistrano Unified for some sinister purpose. Unfortunately for them, this scare tactic backfired. Most voters like what we stand for – excellence in education, the rights of parents to make choices for their children, and local control of our schools.

    Thank you for your support of the Education Alliance. Together, we are making a difference for our children.

    Mark Bucher, Chairman
    Education Alliance

    There you go, right from the Education Alliance themselves.  And so today teachers were on the picket line, walking to fight for not their pay, not to keep money in their pockets but to fight for public education.

    So, now that the teachers strike and the Board of Trustees have the chaos they wanted?  Tony Beall is using Red County as a means, in my opinion, to continue the hysteria brought on by Obama fever.  The unions are thugs, the Country is going to hell in a socialist handbasket and there is Glen Beck’s worst nightmare of a progressivist agenda behind everything working against all that is good and great about our Country.

    Tony Beall says, “It’s on!”

    The seven conservative republican trustees serving on the Capistrano Unified Board of Trustees are under attack by their local teachers union, as well as the powerful California Teachers Association (CTA) and now, the National Education Association (NEA).  Our seven courageous trustees need the immediate support of all conservatives from across the country who are sick and tired of the abuses and undue influence exerted by the powerful public employee unions.

    Oh no, it’s gets so much better!

    The California media has been covering at length the current California teachers union strike — but this story obviously has national significance.

    The Teachers Union (local, state and national) understands very well there simply is no more money to spend in CUSD — or elsewhere in California.  They recognize the Capistrano Unified School Board is facing a budget crisis. The Board is being forced to cut $34 million from the 2010-2011 budget…which is especially painful because the Board members were forced to cut $25 million from this year’s budget.  The fiscal crisis in California is predicted to only get worse as we await the Governor’s May revise.  It is expected that further cuts to school budgets will be announced at that time or shortly thereafter.

    You see, it’s not their agenda we should be concerned about, no, no wait, look over here, it’s those evil teacher’s unions!

    The powerful and incredibly well-funded Teachers Union has drawn a line in the sand and they’ve made the current strike in California a litmus test for the rest of the nation.  Capistrano Unified has become “Ground Zero for the Future of California…and Beyond.”

    Dozens of school districts across the nation are carefully watching what will happen.

    What is the union’s real agenda?

    This strike is not about the union contract. It is all about power politics — the union’s desire to take over control of the school board in the November election.  The union leaders know other districts from across the nation are watching and will follow the lead of the conservative Reform Trustees in CUSD.  That is why the union has brought in the “big guns” from the NEA and CTA.

    The unions believe they can’t afford to lose in CUSD because that loss would trigger a tsunami of budget reforms in school districts across the country – public employee salaries, benefits and retirements would all be subject to reductions.
    However, taxpayers are the ones who really can’t afford to lose…because there simply isn’t any more money and the union’s status quo is obviously unsustainable.
    So, if the union’s purpose in striking isn’t about their specific contract terms – what is their real goal?

    That’s right — just what the powerful unions have done in Sacramento – they seek to replace every conservative board member with Trustees beholden to the union’s desires (in CUSD…and any other school district across our nation where Board members say no to the unsustainable union status quo).

    What are those desires?

    That’s right – to keep the union salaries, benefits and retirements high by passing new taxes.  New taxes statewide via the legislature and locally through new bonds and parcel taxes.

    The stakes for our school districts have never been higher than in this strike situation.  Now is the time for taxpayers to get informed and get involved in support these seven courageous reform trustees!
    It’s time for every conservative from across the country that is sick and tired of the abuses and undue influence exerted by the powerful public employee unions to come to the aid of the seven courageous trustees on the CUSD Board of Trustees.

    The unions have brought out their big guns – will we?

    I guess Tony has heard the news or read his local paper that right now, in Orange County, over two thousand teachers have received pink slips and that we’re going to lose more teachers if we don’t do something.  Where has he been?

    In March, districts told us they would issue 2,586 pink slips, but acknowledged that the figure is likely greater than those who will receive final notices May 15. Already, as the layoff lists come through, the numbers show a slight decline.

    It’s not about keeping big fat pensions or salaries high, it’s about trying to keep education at some semblance of normal!  These guys are on the wrong side here.  The big picture is about the fact that teachers are willing to take the cuts, they just aren’t willing to trust a board that has an agenda beyond what’s at the surface.

    This is my photo from walking the line!

    And one of my photos from the rally I went to at the District office on Friday afternoon.  Nice sign, huh?

    Heather Irene Justus

    My blogging here is not an endorsement of any other opinion but my own. I'm no longer new to blogging, I've been writing locally and nationally since 2007 starting here at the Liberal OC. I was born in New York and grew up in Huntington Beach, CA and currently live in Aliso Viejo. I graduated from Smith College with a B.A. in English and Film and eventually may go back to school, but I'm still figuring out what I want to be when I grow up. Until then, I work and write and try to do something useful here in the OC by using the word to point out the things that make me frustrated. It's a daily struggle. Issues that peak my interest the most are environmental (yes, I don't just 'believe" in climate change, I listen to all those whacky scientists), gender and body issues (women deserve equal pay, I'm a feminist too, crazy) to the continuing widening economic gap we are not enjoying here in the US (which ties to education, stagnant wages and debt). So many issues, but those are the top three right now. I am an unabashed corgi lover, nerd and all around strange girl. I am lucky enough to be raising a wonderful daughter as well and enjoying being unmarried.