A second group of California teachers has filed a lawsuit that’s a cousin to Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, which is challenging the right of public employees’ unions to collect mandatory dues.

The latest lawsuit, Bain v. California Teachers Association, was filed Friday by the Sacramento-based advocacy organization StudentsFirst on behalf of four public school teachers suing the state’s two teachers unions and their national affiliates. In the lawsuit, the teachers focus only on the 35 to 40 percent of their dues payments that are used for political purposes, including donations to candidates and lobbying for legislation in Sacramento.

Although paying this portion is optional, the teachers charge that the unions punish those who choose not to pay it by kicking them out of the union and denying them additional economic benefits, such as better disability and life insurance policies. The unions provide those benefits only to members. This coercion, the teachers argue, violates their constitutional right to free speech. About one in 10 teachers in California have opted out of paying the portion of dues supporting politicking and lobbying.

“Across California, public school teachers are being forced to choose between important employment benefits like paid maternity leave and their own political values,” plaintiff Bhavini Bhakta, a teacher at the Arcadia Unified School District, said in a press release. “It’s unfair. I appreciate my union and want to stay a member. But I don’t want to be forced to fund political activities that contradict my core beliefs about education.”

Along with the California Teachers Association, other defendants in the lawsuit are CTA’s parent union, the National Education Association, the California Federation of Teachers and its parent union, the American Federation of Teachers. Both national unions are funded with a portion of teachers’ dues.

In a statement on Monday, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten accused StudentsFirst of hypocrisy by trying to restrict the unions’ capacity to engage in the political process at the same time that it has worked “to stifle the voices of teachers, and strip them of collective bargaining and other rights and tools to do their jobs.”

“Sadly, this lawsuit is attempting to use the First Amendment to stifle speech, not enhance it,” Weingarten said.

A CTA spokesman said Monday it had not yet been served by the lawsuit and would have no immediate comment.

Both the CTA and CFT are obligated to negotiate contracts dealing with pay, benefits and working conditions on behalf of union and non-union teachers. And, while no longer union members, the four plaintiffs in the case are required under California law to pay what’s called an agency fee, which is the non-political 60 to 65 percent portion of union dues covering bargaining-related expenses.

The lawsuit says that the unions provide supplemental benefits exclusively for union teachers to entice teachers to pay the portion of dues covering political activities. These benefits include better pay during maternity leave and free representation in disputes with the pension fund CalSTRS over retirement benefits and in discipline and dismissal actions that districts initiate.

“This legal representation makes it substantially more difficult for a school district to take adverse employment actions against a union member teacher than a non-member teacher,” the lawsuit, filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, stated. “This lawsuit seeks to remedy this extreme injustice to California’s educators, so that teachers can enjoy the same First Amendment rights as other Americans without being punished for exercising them.”

Along with Bhakta, the other plaintiffs in Bain v. CTA are April Bain and Kiechelle Russell, two teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District, and Clare Sobetski, a union representative at Richmond High in the West Contra Costa Unified School District.

StudentsFirst, a national organization founded by former Washington, D.C., schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, supports charter schools and changing teacher employment laws. It’s being represented by the same team of high-powered attorneys from the Los Angeles law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher that won a big victory last year in Vergara v. the State of California. In that case, a state District Court judge overturned five state laws governing teacher layoffs, tenure and dismissals as unconstitutional. The case is now on appeal. Another organization, Students Matter, funded by Silicon Valley high-tech entrepreneur David Welch, brought that lawsuit; StudentsFirst has praised the ruling.

Bain v. CTA is narrower in focus than Friedrichs v. CTA et al. The Friedrichs lawsuit, filed two years ago, is challenging teachers’ obligation to pay public-sector unions to represent them. It challenges a landmark 1977 U.S. Supreme Court decision that upheld state laws that compel public-sector workers to pay agency fees that underwrite unions’ collective bargaining costs. Two dozen states, including California, have passed compulsory dues laws. If the 10 non-union California teachers represented in the Friedrichs suit win their case, then the CTA and CFT would lose the authority to automatically deduct hundreds of millions of dollars a year in dues from the paychecks of both members and non-members.

Based on the experience of states with “right-to-work” laws that ban compulsory union dues, the unions most likely would see a decline in their revenues and their influence. A Washington, D.C., libertarian nonprofit law firm, The Center for Individual Rights, which brought the Friedrichs lawsuit, is waiting to hear whether the U.S. Supreme Court will take the case for its fall 2015 session.

Bain v. CTA raises a different issue and would move forward regardless of the Supreme Court’s decision on Friedrichs, said Joshua Lipshutz, an attorney in the case.

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  1. brenda smith 2 years ago2 years ago

    don't any of you know not to trust any union. Do you know the California Teachers association and all other unions have conspired to purposely put all members, teachers, students, parents etc at direct risks for injuries, disabilities, birth defects, cancer and death as they chose to purposely not given known and prepared warnings regarding use and exposure to NCR paper. The warnings have not been given and disabilities not resolved solely so the low … Read More

    don’t any of you know not to trust any union. Do you know the California Teachers association and all other unions have conspired to purposely put all members, teachers, students, parents etc at direct risks for injuries, disabilities, birth defects, cancer and death as they chose to purposely not given known and prepared warnings regarding use and exposure to NCR paper. The warnings have not been given and disabilities not resolved solely so the low life unions could collect and use members dues for political events while purposely putting all the members at direct risks. Ask Gary Ravani about this. Ask him if he is conspiring with the unions to put members at risk solely to steal their dues. Is this the kind of person he is or is he going to deny he does not know about this. You cannot trust any union or spokesperson regarding this issue. They would let you die solely to collect your dues.

    Replies

    • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

      Brenda:

      Well here I am in all of my (retired union) glory.

      Where exactly do you see NCR paper (really?) being used in the schools and what does it have to do with dues?

  2. Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

    The amounts for chargeable and non chargeable expenses are carefully and professionally done by accountants and auditors outside the ranks of the unions, aka, independent third parties. I cannot speak for all unions, but I do know that those amounts for "services" provided to union members, e.g., liability insurance, are deducted from dues and are part of the rebate that goes to agency fee payers. Again, this is for the CFT. Teachers who pay chargeable … Read More

    The amounts for chargeable and non chargeable expenses are carefully and professionally done by accountants and auditors outside the ranks of the unions, aka, independent third parties. I cannot speak for all unions, but I do know that those amounts for “services” provided to union members, e.g., liability insurance, are deducted from dues and are part of the rebate that goes to agency fee payers. Again, this is for the CFT. Teachers who pay chargeable expenses, aka, non-union members, are NOT charged for services they do not receive.

    And, again it is their choice to be part of the union, and that’s small “u” unionism, or not. They also have every right to exercise their free speech and get their colleagues to support them and be elected as site representative or delegates to conventions or union officers, submit resolutions, and argue their points before the larger body. In this way they can change the political direction of the union. Or not. It is very democratic (small “d.”) And that, I think, is the crux of the issue. “Too much democracy.”

    Perhaps the most ludicrous part of the lawsuit is where the “plaintiffs” (actually the wealthy puppet masters) complain that supporting initiatives to get the stubborn CA budget passed in a timely fashion (including school funding in Prop 25), or the initiative that has started CA’s school funding (Prop 30) on an upward trajectory from near last in the nation by causing the wealthy to pay their fair share, are NOT political.

  3. Bill McConnell 2 years ago2 years ago

    California does not deny people benefits simply because they opt out of the political contribution portion of their dues. Many members opt out of the political portion and enjoy the benefits of union membership. Duty of Fair representation still requires that we represent non members in disciplinary issues. As for the article’s statement that a person has to choose between maternity leave and union membership, week that’s just ludicrous.

    Replies

    • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

      Unions CHOOSE exclusivity status which requires representation of non-members, then complain about free riders. They are not required by law to represent non-members if they don't choose this status. They do because it affords them greater bargaining power. You can't have it both ways saying that non-members enjoy the benefits of members as it this were unfair to the union when the union chooses to provide these benefits rather than not be the … Read More

      Unions CHOOSE exclusivity status which requires representation of non-members, then complain about free riders. They are not required by law to represent non-members if they don’t choose this status. They do because it affords them greater bargaining power. You can’t have it both ways saying that non-members enjoy the benefits of members as it this were unfair to the union when the union chooses to provide these benefits rather than not be the exclusive representative. Actually your free to say it. But it’s factually incorrect and ludicrous.

    • John Fensterwald 2 years ago2 years ago

      Bill: My understanding is that the union must represent non-teachers who file grievances over the contract but that the union will not represent non-members in layoff and dismissal proceedings, which obviously can be very expensive. Union membership also provides liability insurance for teachers who are sued on the job. The argument is that these economic benefits are the thumb on the scale for teachers deciding whether to pay money for the union's political activities. Whether … Read More

      Bill: My understanding is that the union must represent non-teachers who file grievances over the contract but that the union will not represent non-members in layoff and dismissal proceedings, which obviously can be very expensive. Union membership also provides liability insurance for teachers who are sued on the job. The argument is that these economic benefits are the thumb on the scale for teachers deciding whether to pay money for the union’s political activities. Whether this violates teachers’ speech rights is for the courts to decide.

  4. Don 2 years ago2 years ago

    Larry and Gary, Larry is basically correct but it's a little more complicated. To go back - In response to Gary's statement below: “Both the CTA and CFT are obligated to negotiate contracts dealing with pay, benefits and working conditions on behalf of union and non-union teachers.” Larry said: "Not true. If unions don’t want to represent non-members they are not required to do so. But they invariably insist on providing benefits to all." So are unions obligated to represent members … Read More

    Larry and Gary,

    Larry is basically correct but it’s a little more complicated.

    To go back – In response to Gary’s statement below:

    “Both the CTA and CFT are obligated to negotiate contracts dealing with pay, benefits and working conditions on behalf of union and non-union teachers.”

    Larry said:

    “Not true. If unions don’t want to represent non-members they are not required to do so. But they invariably insist on providing benefits to all.”

    So are unions obligated to represent members and non-members? Yes, if they elect to be certified as the exclusive representative, which they all do, I believe. They don’t have to elect to do so but once they do they have to negotiate for members and non-members.

    See relevant laws below:

    Educational Employment Relations Act:

    3543 A. …If the exclusive representative of a unit provides notification, as specified by subdivision (a) of Section 3546, public school employees who are in a unit for which an exclusive representative has been selected, shall be required, as a condition of continued employment, to join the recognized employee organization or to pay the organization a fair share services fee, as required by Section 3546.

    3543.1 (a) Employee organizations shall have the right to represent their members in their employment relations with public school employers, except that once an employee organization is recognized or certified as the exclusive representative of an appropriate unit pursuant to Section 3544.1 or 3544.7, respectively, only that employee organization may represent that unit in their employment relations with the public school employer. Employee organizations may establish reasonable restrictions regarding who may join and may make reasonable provisions for the dismissal of individuals from membership.

    Replies

    • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

      John: I think you meant "non-members" not "non-teachers." Since layoffs are typically handled in a "group" fashion," that is the union and/or attorney analyses the district's layoff documents to see if it jives with what is known about seniority status, and then if those being "skipped" fall under the provisions of what the local board has defined as necessary to preserve program. In the "unusual" (relatively) case of there being some challenge that falls between … Read More

      John:

      I think you meant “non-members” not “non-teachers.”

      Since layoffs are typically handled in a “group” fashion,” that is the union and/or attorney analyses the district’s layoff documents to see if it jives with what is known about seniority status, and then if those being “skipped” fall under the provisions of what the local board has defined as necessary to preserve program. In the “unusual” (relatively) case of there being some challenge that falls between two individual teachers the union’s attorney may act on behalf of the union member. But even then it typically amounts to a study of the “evidence” related to time of hire and credentialing and relates to documentation, it is not a personal kind of challenge.

      Unions have a right to set certain standards as to who may or may not be a member, and what membership entitles you to (again, not untypical of any organization tat has a defined membership), but it does not have a right to decide whether to protect the contract rights of any member of the “bargaining unit,” under “right to fair representation.” That’s what everyone in the bargaining unit pays for in chargeable expenses.

      As to dismissal: those are not collective bargaining issues. Dismissal is a statutory issue. The union may or may not choose to represent the teacher. It is not a right under “fair representation.”

      The assertion that the benefits of union membership are a “thumb on the scale” to convince members to overcome their political reservations to support the union is specious. The people who choose “agency fee status” (pay only the chargeable dues) are typically quite severe in their political beliefs. The vast majority of union member understand that 1) their votes for site representative, officers, and representatives to the policy making bodies of the unions (conventions and councils) are the votes that direct the union and drive the expenditure of union political funds; and, 2) that the unions political funds support pro-education initiatives and government representatives and/or other initiatives that drive social and economic justice. Social and economic justice issues being central to labors’ goals historically. And, of course, social and economic justice is not far removed form a healthy society that benefits the working and middle class that labor represents. Hence the hostility labor draws from the wealthy, their political minions, and paid mouthpieces. (See various lawsuits here.)

      Unions are very democratic organizations. In fact, federal and state labor laws mandate that there be very clear and transparent paper trails to establish that political expenditures represent the will of the membership via representative democracy. Those whose ideas are inconsistent with the values of social and economic justice, and yet are members of union bargaining units, have very right to change the direction of union activism. They just have to do it democratically, that is, get enough fellow employees to elect them or change votes to align with their views. When they can’t do that they are subject frustration and to becoming pawns of larger forces who also oppose the social , economic, and democratic objectives of unions. Lawsuits are filed. In a larger sphere, you can see the forces opposed to social, economic, and democratic justice attempting (and often succeeding) to restrict voter rights across the nation. The two antidemocratic forces are closely aligned and often funded by the same, in the colorful terms of FDR, the “malefactors of great wealth.”

  5. Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

    This (below) is an excerpt from Diane Ravitch's blog on a group called Center for Education Reform, a part of the privatized charter school industrial complex. Anyone familiar with this group and/or where it gets its funding from? Just asking' "Mother Crusader noticed that the New Jersey office of charter schools has a list of important partners. One of them is the Center for Education Reform. Mother Crusader does her customary research and finds that Jeanne Allen, … Read More

    This (below) is an excerpt from Diane Ravitch’s blog on a group called Center for Education Reform, a part of the privatized charter school industrial complex. Anyone familiar with this group and/or where it gets its funding from? Just asking’

    “Mother Crusader noticed that the New Jersey office of charter schools has a list of important partners.

    One of them is the Center for Education Reform.

    Mother Crusader does her customary research and finds that Jeanne Allen, who founded CER, claimed credit for writing the ALEC proposal for the parent trigger.

    She should not have been surprised. CER is one of the leading voices on the right that supports charters and vouchers and online schools, anything but public schools.

    Mother Crusader notes that the schools that get a high rating from CER are those that have the most choice, not the ones that perform best on NAEP.

    CER works closely with any other organization that opposes public education and supports privatization.”

  6. Barbara 2 years ago2 years ago

    In other words they found four disgruntled teachers. Most teachers realize that unions are democracy in the workplace and the only way to defend ourselves against corporate power and the private takeover of public ed.

    Replies

    • Bob Bowdon 2 years ago2 years ago

      If only a tiny fraction are unhappy with paying union dues, you should support this lawsuit, Barbara.

      Not only would letting teachers opt out of all union dues remove the “coercion” argument from the quiver of union opponents, but the impact on revenue would be negligible since so few teachers want out of the union. That would be a win/win for you, right?

    • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

      Barbara, the number of teachers is 35,000 and more if teachers could opt-out without penalty. Read the article. In what cheap version of democracy is it legitimate to deprive people of benefits they've paid for? As far as defending yourself against a corporate takeover, I'd like to remind you that the primary function of your union is to represent its private members against the government - the local education agency, that is. The ideologically driven … Read More

      Barbara, the number of teachers is 35,000 and more if teachers could opt-out without penalty. Read the article.

      In what cheap version of democracy is it legitimate to deprive people of benefits they’ve paid for?

      As far as defending yourself against a corporate takeover, I’d like to remind you that the primary function of your union is to represent its private members against the government – the local education agency, that is.

      The ideologically driven fault lines in public education, which tend towards the specious, are mostly false divisions as represented by Barbara’s incredibly misinformed notions and blatant misreadings..

  7. Don 2 years ago2 years ago

    Gary said, "And no one is forced to reject getting benefits and services available to members." Who paid dues to make funds available for supplemental benefits and services? If non-members paid in they should get those perks, too. You also said, "The fact that “agency fee” payers don’t have to pay “nonchargeable expenses,” those dollars going to political causes, is exactly what protects their 1st Amendment rights." It does, but then that implies the supplemental benefits … Read More

    Gary said, “And no one is forced to reject getting benefits and services available to members.”

    Who paid dues to make funds available for supplemental benefits and services? If non-members paid in they should get those perks, too.

    You also said, “The fact that “agency fee” payers don’t have to pay “nonchargeable expenses,” those dollars going to political causes, is exactly what protects their 1st Amendment rights.”

    It does, but then that implies the supplemental benefits are chargeable expenses that come out of the agency fee. So non-members are,by force of law, mandated to pay for services not rendered.

    You are just stickin’ it to them. Another reason why people are tired of coercive union practices.

  8. Replies

    • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

      Larry:

      It’s been a while since we chatted on the radio. But now, as then, you are barking up the wrong tree. The article you referenced deals with NLRB, which does not cover public employees. That, in CA, is with the jurisdiction of PERB, the Public Employee Relations Board, and relevant statutes.

      • Larry Sand 2 years ago2 years ago

        Gary, different trees have many things in common. While it is true that CA public school teachers are not covered by the NLRA, with regard to being an exclusive bargaining representative and duty of fair representation, the rules are much the same. If you can point to a specific PERB regulation that disputes what I am saying, I’d like to see it.

        • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

          Larry:

          The last time we talked it was your assertion that teachers were ‘forced” to becomes members of the union. As this article (and the lawsuit) demonstrate what you said at that time was nonsense. So, then, you actually think there is PERB language to refute everything you say?

          • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

            From a PERB provided “glossary of terms” provided on the web:

            Duty of fair representation: The obligation of the exclusive representative to represent in good faith all members of the bargaining unit, including nonmembers of the union.

            Reprinted courtesy of the California Public Relations Institute for Industrial Relations, University of California at Berkeley

            • Larry Sand 2 years ago2 years ago

              Correct, Gary. It is indeed the “obligation of the exclusive representative.” But it is the union’s choice to be the exclusive representative. The law does not mandate that status.

            • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

              Lary:

              The law says if the members of the bargaining unit vote in a union as “exclusive representative” then it is.

            • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

              Wow. The next thing I’ll hear is “the devil made me do it”. At least Gary has finally admitted that it is the choice to be an exclusive representative that is at the heart of the issue, which is what I said in the first place.

  9. Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

    You have to wonder if the plaintiffs anticipate a suit against COSTCO because only members get the advantage of shopping there?. Or any number of golf clubs that demand membership in order to play there? What is so unusual about about having certain services and advantages available to members of some organization and not to nonmembers? And no one is forced to reject getting benefits and services available to members, That is a choice, and only … Read More

    You have to wonder if the plaintiffs anticipate a suit against COSTCO because only members get the advantage of shopping there?. Or any number of golf clubs that demand membership in order to play there?

    What is so unusual about about having certain services and advantages available to members of some organization and not to nonmembers?

    And no one is forced to reject getting benefits and services available to members, That is a choice, and only a choice. If you want all of the benefits and privileges of membership, become a member. If not, don’t.

    CA law wisely, as the highest performing states and nations also do, gives teachers the right to be represented in collective bargaining. Negotiating and enforcing contracts requires people and time which requires dues. Those are chargeable expenses. Everyone covered by the contract, including union members and nonmembers, has that advantage and is required to support those costs, otherwise some will be (as in any group) “free-riders.”

    The fact that “agency fee” payers don’t have to pay “nonchargeable expenses,” those dollars going to political causes, is exactly what protects their 1st Amendment rights.

    At least this time, the plaintiffs and the high priced corporate law firm involved, aren’t hiding behind children’s backpacks. The Students First lawsuit doesn’t mention students once. The suit is plainly just an attack on unions and their abilities to represent teachers’ working conditions (including those of nonmembers) and students’ learning conditions.

    It is telling (if nonsensical) that they charge the CA Federation of Teachers with dealing with political issues (ballot measures) “that have little or nothing to do with education.” Examples? Prop 25 and Prop 30. Prop 25 allows the state legislature to pass the state budget with a majority rather than super-majority. State budgets, including the education budget, have little to nothing to do with education.” And then there’s Prop 30, featured here on EdSource just the other day as having been responsible for moving CA’s per student education funding to within $1K of the national average. This too has, according to the lawsuit specifically, “little or nothing to do with education.”

    So the wealthy benefactors of Students First have serious issues with ballot initiatives that actually put real-life, living, breathing, students first, if that means the wealthy have to pay more taxes. Makes sense in a kind of sick and intensely self-interested way.

    And CTA is also taken to task for supporting political issues like better control over firearms because Sandy Hook never happened. And CTA had the temerity to support ACA because all research shows [sic] that kids without healthcare can perform in school just as well as chidden who have healthcare. Maybe in 1% land or Ayn Rand’s fevered dreams.

  10. Krono 2 years ago2 years ago

    One of the plaintiffs is Clare Sobetski, a union representative at Richmond High School? Isn’t it weird for a union representative to be suing the union?

    Replies

    • Bob Bowdon 2 years ago2 years ago

      First, yes.

      But second, there are plenty of examples of union members who like and support their own local, but resent or even detest their state and/or national overlords.

  11. Don 2 years ago2 years ago

    If unions, not the districts, are covering these supplemental benefits designed to encourage membership, from what portion of union fees do these benefits derive? If they are from the agency fees the complainants have a logical point as they pay those fees. But if they are from the legislative, lobbying side of dues than the opposite is true. Is the money co-mingled and is it defined in such a way as to have a … Read More

    If unions, not the districts, are covering these supplemental benefits designed to encourage membership, from what portion of union fees do these benefits derive? If they are from the agency fees the complainants have a logical point as they pay those fees. But if they are from the legislative, lobbying side of dues than the opposite is true. Is the money co-mingled and is it defined in such a way as to have a clear answer to this question? If it’s the former, can the union simply raise the agency fee to cover the costs?

    I was struck by Bhavini’s Bhakta’s comment, ““It’s unfair. I appreciate my union and want to stay a member. But I don’t want to be forced to fund political activities that contradict my core beliefs about education.” According to the article she currently isn’t a member so why does she as a teacher want to be a member of an organization that conflicts with her core beliefs as a teacher? I understand that Bhakta has no choice by law but to pay the agency fee and I agree that restricting benefits ought to be unconstitutional on principle if indeed she is paying for those benefits without receiving them.Being a member and paying dues versus only paying agency fees without membership is a good solution to the overall problem. There ought to be a simple fix to this issue.

  12. Vicki Legion 2 years ago2 years ago

    John Fensterwald, I would like to suggest that you read Michelle Rhee's autobiography. There you will see that she started StudentsFirst with a 50 million dollar starter donation from the Walton Foundation of Walmart fame. To say that "teachers" filed this lawsuit is to fall into the PR trap that has been set for us. Michelle Rhee is amply funded by Wall Street corporate education reformers with everything to … Read More

    John Fensterwald, I would like to suggest that you read Michelle Rhee’s autobiography. There you will see that she started StudentsFirst with a 50 million dollar starter donation from the Walton Foundation of Walmart fame.

    To say that “teachers” filed this lawsuit is to fall into the PR trap that has been set for us. Michelle Rhee is amply funded by Wall Street corporate education reformers with everything to gain by privatizing public education and destroying teachers unions. StudentsFirst is an astroturf (fake grassroots) group.

    We need EdSource to have a critical view of corporate education deform.

    Replies

    • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

      Vicki, ] do you understand the difference between news reporting and op-ed? No doubt the well informed Mr.Fensterwald is aware of Students First and and the former head, Michelle Rhee. He correctly and clearly stated that "a group of teachers" filed this suit, not that teachers in general or that all teachers are involved or even support this litigation as you maintain. Your contention that Ed Source should … Read More

      Vicki, ] do you understand the difference between news reporting and op-ed? No doubt the well informed Mr.Fensterwald is aware of Students First and and the former head, Michelle Rhee.

      He correctly and clearly stated that “a group of teachers” filed this suit, not that teachers in general or that all teachers are involved or even support this litigation as you maintain. Your contention that Ed Source should act a mouthpiece for opponents of certain reform movements ] tells me that you are not interested in news per se, only your preferred version of it.

      May I suggest you refrain from this sort of divisive and intolerant discourse?

    • Bob Bowdon 2 years ago2 years ago

      Just to be clear.... Your phrase "amply funded" means "bad" in the context of StudensFirst, but it doesn't mean bad in the context of teachers unions and their abilities to buy off political candidates. Do I have that right? Read More

      Just to be clear….

      Your phrase “amply funded” means “bad” in the context of StudensFirst, but it doesn’t mean bad in the context of teachers unions and their abilities to buy off political candidates. Do I have that right?

      • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

        Bob: Recall that teachers' unions operate under strict rules requiring a long paper trail to insure that expenditures, particularly political expenditures, are decided based on democratic decisions made by duly elected representatives. Is it your suggestion that the actions of Students First, or Students Matter, funded and directed based on the whims of billionaire oligarchs have the same value in a democtratic system? Perhaps you should read up a little on the criticisms of, and negative … Read More

        Bob:

        Recall that teachers’ unions operate under strict rules requiring a long paper trail to insure that expenditures, particularly political expenditures, are decided based on democratic decisions made by duly elected representatives. Is it your suggestion that the actions of Students First, or Students Matter, funded and directed based on the whims of billionaire oligarchs have the same value in a democtratic system? Perhaps you should read up a little on the criticisms of, and negative political implications for our democracy, of people like the Koch Brothers and legal decisions like Citizens United. If money is speech then the backers of Students First and Students Matter scream.