Credit: John Fensterwald / EdSource
CTA President Eric Heins talks strategy in San Jose in October 2012 with teachers Sandra Rivera of Alum Rock Union Elementary School District and Wendi Smith of Sunnyvale School District, who were working full-time on the campaign to pass Proposition 30. Persuading voters to extend the tax increase will be the union's top priority in November.

With lawyers representing the 10 California teachers in Friedrichs v. the California Teachers Association vowing to resume their fight to overturn mandatory union fees when a new justice joins the U.S. Supreme Court, the 4-4 split that the Court announced last week amounts to a reprieve, not a victory, for the CTA and other unions representing public employees.

It’s also an opportunity to learn from a near-death experience.

“Teachers unions must not hunker down,” said Katharine Strunk, an associate professor of education and policy at the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education. “It’s time for them to do a reality check to see what it is that members want to protect.”

The court’s tie vote provided breathing room for the CTA and public employee unions in 23 states, including California, whose laws allow unions to charge all employees mandatory “agency fees” for the costs to represent them. Agency fees do not include the union’s costs of campaigning, lobbying and politicking covered by full dues that employees pay when they voluntarily join a union.

For now, unions can continue to collect the money, and to prepare for a possible post-Friedrichs world. That’s precisely what Eric Heins, president of the CTA, said the union had been doing since the lawsuit was filed three years ago. The Friedrichs case, he said, “did give us a sense of urgency to engage our members. That’s good stuff to do regardless of how Friedrichs turned out, and we will continue that work.”

Two years ago, while Friedrichs was working its way through the courts, the CTA prepared a presentation for its local leaders about the case. With the fatalistic title “Not if but when: Living in a world without Fair Share…,” it laid out a broad strategy to persuade teachers to voluntarily pay union dues if, as then appeared likely, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down agency fees.

The presentation became the CTA’s strategic plan, which emphasized “positive messages” about union members’ work and more face-to-face engagement with members by local union leaders. The goal was for a union official to touch base with every teacher at least once every year.

John Lindner, a 4th-grade teacher in the Oak Grove School District in San Jose and a member of the CTA’s decision-making body, the State Council, said that local leaders have followed the CTA strategy and “promoted the value of union dues.”

“I tell them the union provides us with energy and equal standing with the administration – that it’s really ineffective to try as individuals to address employee and students’ needs; there’s value in working together,” he said.

Heins said that once teachers understand that the CTA fights for issues that are important to them, like smaller class sizes, “they have no trouble joining the union.”

While about 90 percent of teachers have joined the CTA, Strunk said it faces sobering external and internal challenges. Well-funded opponents like the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Individual Rights, which filed the Friedrichs case, and Students Matter, which brought the Vergara lawsuit seeking to overturn tenure and other union protections, are turning to the courts to challenge teachers unions. And the high-profile cases are affecting public opinion. According to a 2014 poll that USC and the public policy nonprofit PACE conducted, 49 percent of respondents said that unions had a “somewhat or very negative impact” on K-12 education, while a third said they had a “somewhat or very positive impact.”

Looking ahead, Strunk said, a new generation of teachers will face new economic realities. With districts facing rising pension costs and, in some large districts, unfunded health-care commitments for retired teachers, future teachers could decide those aren’t their priorities, that “they want protections but not these protections,” Strunk said.

If Justice Antonin Scalia had not died of a heart attack in early February, five of the Court’s justices appeared poised to declare agency fees an unconstitutional intrusion of the First Amendment rights of the plaintiff teachers. As a result of the tie vote, the plaintiffs can ask for the case to be reheard when a new justice is appointed. If the plaintiffs eventually win, public-employee unions would have to persuade teachers each year to join the union; unions would face the prospect of mass defections and substantial loss of revenue and power, as has happened in “right-to-work” states where all union fees and dues are voluntary.

Teachers’ changing priorities

Most teachers have little involvement with their union besides having their dues automatically deducted from their paychecks. In the 2014 contested election for a new president of United Teachers Los Angeles, the state’s largest local, fewer than 1 in 4 teachers voted. Uninvolved or apathetic teachers may not choose to pay full dues or the minimum costs of representation if, under Friedrichs, they were asked every year to opt in.

The presidents of CTA locals in the San Jose and San Juan school districts, which are leaders in creating participatory unions, said they didn’t create a contingency plan laying out what they’d do if the court overturned agency fees. But they said that the battle for teachers’ loyalty will be won not in Sacramento, but at the local level.

Jennifer Thomas, president of the San Jose Teachers Association, said her members’ expectations are greater now than in generations past. San Jose teachers want the union to become involved “beyond bread-and-butter issues – to work on any problems that they face in their classroom. So the union has to have capacity in policy and instructional knowledge,” she said.

“My job would be a thousand times easier if all I had to do was to go to the board and ask for more money,” she said. This year’s union budget, at members’ request, included professional development money for members to attend conferences not covered by the district, such as training related to students with autism.

Shannan Brown, president of the San Juan Teachers Association, also said “a huge focus of our association is professional issues.” San Juan Unified and the union have a number of work groups on issues including redesigning the elementary school report card, special education and realigning college course requirements. As in San Jose, the district and the union are part of multi-year effort to redesign teacher evaluations.

The union is serving as “the conduit” for teachers to become involved in issues affecting students, Brown said. “To a large extent, that is why our members support our work.”

The “core engagement of members” is critical to survival, Thomas said. Otherwise, the union “will rot from the inside out.”

UTLA’s strategy

In the face of a steady decline in student enrollment and ominous projections of a district budget deficit, United Teachers Los Angeles, the state’s largest local, has been more confrontational with charter schools, visible in media and assertive in negotiations with the district under President Alex Caputo-Pearl. It viewed the threat from Friedrichs as “a catalyzing force – and extra stimulus” to engage its 32,000 members, said UTLA’s secretary Daniel Barnhart.

“My job would be a thousand times easier if all I had to do was to go to the board and ask for more money.” – Jennifer Thomas, president, San Jose Teachers Association

Barnhart said UTLA has become more systematic in sending its leaders out to every school in the nation’s second-largest district. There have been more than 1,400 visits to schools, after which UTLA staff summarize the discussions in a database. By some metrics, the dialogue is paying off. The union persuaded members to raise member dues, which had been among the lowest in the state, by $19 per month.

And it has seen a growth in membership, notwithstanding the spotlight that the Friedrichs lawsuit cast on the teachers’ option to pay only agency fees instead of full union dues. Barnhart said the percentage of teachers who are paying only agency fees dropped in two years from about 10 percent to 4 percent. The largest increase in membership coincided with the union vote last year on a contract with a 10 percent pay raise. UTLA converted 900 teachers on election day. Many of the 2,700 teachers who had been paying agency fees “didn’t realize they weren’t members,” Barnhart said. The union gave them a provisional ballot to vote and signed them up, he said.

Heins pointed to the creation of the Instructional Leadership Corps, a joint project with Stanford University, as an example of how the CTA listened to teachers and responded to instructional issues. The corps has trained more than 300 teacher leaders in how to share their expertise in the Common Core.

Ama Nyamekye, executive director of Educators 4 Excellence-Los Angeles, a nonprofit teachers organization with 4,000 members, mostly from the Los Angeles Unified School District, praised the CTA’s effort. But she said UTLA and the CTA must go further in listening to teachers, instead of primarily functioning as a one-way source of information on union issues. Teachers, she wrote in an email, “want a place to be able to understand and even debate complex policy issues and the diverse and nuanced perspectives of teachers. Perhaps most important, teachers want to have those ideas reflected in the agenda of their union.” At the top of the list in Los Angeles Unified, she said, are the implementation of the Common Core standards and the school board’s School Climate Bill of Rights, which deals with positive approaches to discipline.

The CTA, with 300,000 members, whose power has derived from its clout in the state capital, must figure out how to “become more nimble” and to speak to a new generation of teachers that look and think differently than their predecessors, Nyamekye said. And, she said, now that “the pendulum has swung toward local control,” it must ask itself, “What does decentralization look like for our unions to meet specific needs in their districts?”

Strunk said it is equally essential to their long-term success that UTLA and the CTA pivot from the “old school of us versus them” approach. That’s how it has worked in Sacramento with centralized power. Like San Jose and San Juan, unions and districts must see themselves as “long-term partners rather than adversaries,” she said.

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  1. SD Parent 2 years ago2 years ago

    I wish this issue wouldn't be viewed in the black and white "conservative, pro-charter school, business" vs. "powerful unions" and would be seen in the gray area where the truth lies. I'm a born and bred liberal who stands up for the little guy and felt that unions were valuable to protect the little people from big business or bureaucracy that would take advantage of them. But in watching my local teachers' union act at … Read More

    I wish this issue wouldn’t be viewed in the black and white “conservative, pro-charter school, business” vs. “powerful unions” and would be seen in the gray area where the truth lies.
    I’m a born and bred liberal who stands up for the little guy and felt that unions were valuable to protect the little people from big business or bureaucracy that would take advantage of them. But in watching my local teachers’ union act at the local level and CTA act at the state level (from an insider’s view), I’ve witnessed actions so appalling that they have made me question my political affiliation.

    I’ve seen the local teachers’ union leadership choose class size increases and allow hundreds of more junior teachers be let go rather than have a discussion of whether it made more sense to make an across the board salary adjustment to save their fellow teachers (and the students for whom they profess so much concern). I’ve had teachers at my children’s schools quietly tell me that they don’t agree with the union’s positions or practices but that they are afraid to be public in their disenfranchisement because of the power the union wields and the viciousness of their attacks.
    I’ve seen the same happen at the state level, where CTA has pushed for specific language in ballot measures (look no further than the school district reserve cap requirement in Proposition 2, which districts are still trying to repeal because it’s just plain bad policy for districts not to hold reserves when education funding in this state is so volatile) or has worked to kill virtually any bill that touched on teacher due process (even in the face of egregious misconduct, such as sexual abuse) or any bill that even gave a whiff of using student achievement as one of the markers for teacher evaluation (and have observed the political fall-out when a state legislator dared to defy CTA’s position).

    Finally, to Caroline’s point, I’ve witnessed low performing teachers, whose classes virtually all parents know about and dread their child being place into, but by some “miracle” into which none of the teachers’ own children is ever placed (because they also know that there are issues), yet nothing can be done legally to make the low performing teachers improve.

    I’m glad to hear that CTA and its affiliates are looking to start a dialog with their constituents. I truly hope that this involves listening to their constituents, not talking at them (particularly using “spin” to obscure the truth of situations), which has been the modus operandus for the decade I’ve been watching. It will be important for these organizations to reach out to their individual stakeholders and allow for meaningful stakeholder engagement. If they do a good job, the impact of a decision in favor of Friedrichs would have minimal impact anyway.

  2. CarolineSF 2 years ago2 years ago

    Teachers' unions take a constant beating in the MSM and in general public sentiment too. I talk to well-meaning people all the time who know almost nothing about education but who deeply, sincerely believe that "bad teachers who can't be fired because of the union" are the cause of all challenges in public education. That's because far-right billionaires have funded a vast propaganda machine that has targeted teachers and their unions (same thing, since the … Read More

    Teachers’ unions take a constant beating in the MSM and in general public sentiment too. I talk to well-meaning people all the time who know almost nothing about education but who deeply, sincerely believe that “bad teachers who can’t be fired because of the union” are the cause of all challenges in public education. That’s because far-right billionaires have funded a vast propaganda machine that has targeted teachers and their unions (same thing, since the union is made up of teachers) for a sophisticated and deftly crafted sustained attack.

    Every time a writer affixes the adjective “powerful” to “teachers’ unions” we see the effect of that attack, since in that context, “powerful” has an intentionally pejorative connotation, and we see it constantly (including here on EdSource). Writers seem to do it automatically, without even thinking.

    The well-meaning, uninformed-about-inside-baseball people who deeply believe that “bad teachers who can’t be fired because of the union” are the cause of low achievement (along with war, pestilence, famine and cancer) are not even aware of Vergara and Friedrichs. They’re just picking up all the buzz created by the far-right-billionaire-funded machinery.

    (I was just talking to a community member here in San Francisco who didn’t believe that demographics have anything to do with achievement, for example. He truly believes that all the heavily Chinese schools just have better teachers, while of course the informed know that Chinese students, overall on average, are the highest-achieving subgroup in our district — and that if the teachers were all switched out with those in the lowest-achieving high-poverty schools, it would make no difference at all.)

    Part of the right-wing strategy involves deceptively positioning this attack as coming from the center-left — the many operations it has funded have hired many functionaries with Democratic Party credentials — half the Bill Clinton White House staff seems to work for one or another of these outfits. The message would have us believe that the Koch brothers would be marching shoulder to shoulder with Martin Luther King Jr. in “the new civil rights movement” to smash the oppressors, those all-powerful union teachers.

    Teachers’ unions don’t even seem aware of the need to craft a response, but at this point it would be ineffective in any case. The billionaire-funded machinery “gotcha!’s” even the tiniest effort with its skillfully crafted, sophisticated rapid-response strategy.

    Replies

    • CarolineSF 2 years ago2 years ago

      One point: Educators 4 Excellence is a highly partisan* operation that promotes the policies favored by the so-called education “reform” sector. I understand that it’s difficult to clarify that, but it’s misleading to characterize it blandly as a nonprofit teachers organization. *Not partisan as in Democrat/Republican, but partisan as in formed for the purpose of promoting a certain set of controversial policies.

      • John Fensterwald 2 years ago2 years ago

        Caroline: A fairer characterization would be to say its members, 90 percent of whom are union members, primarily UTLA, are dissenters within the union on some issues that matter to them. Educators 4 Excellence opposed the position of the plaintiffs in Friedrichs and backed their unions in the case. Readers can read more here.

        • Manuel 2 years ago2 years ago

          EdSource published a commentary three years from Educators 4 Excellence's executive director at Los Angeles, also quoted in this article, and I pointed out then that E4E is a a New York corporation under the jurisdiction of Delaware (!!!) that maintains an office in downtown Los Angeles. To date, that is still what shows in the data base of the California Secretary of State. I am even wondering how they can claim to have 4,000 … Read More

          EdSource published a commentary three years from Educators 4 Excellence’s executive director at Los Angeles, also quoted in this article, and I pointed out then that E4E is a a New York corporation under the jurisdiction of Delaware (!!!) that maintains an office in downtown Los Angeles.

          To date, that is still what shows in the data base of the California Secretary of State. I am even wondering how they can claim to have 4,000 members as that is more than 10% of UTLA’s membership. Shouldn’t they be more visible in UTLA’s House of Representatives?

          • John Fensterwald 2 years ago2 years ago

            Manuel: Another of describing the organization – without the sinister implication – is simply that it’s a nonprofit corporation with chapters in various states and cities, including Los Angeles. However, interesting question about the impact of 4,000 members. Maybe E4E members choose not to direct their energy to activism within UTLA. Perhaps an E4E member will respond.

          • David B. Cohen 2 years ago2 years ago

            Re: E4E membership - it wasn't my impression that they all come from LAUSD, but perhaps more broadly around L.A. Also, as someone who used to direct a teacher leadership network with a more modest budgets and operation, I can tell you that having "members" and having activity are quite different. Not giving away any secrets here - I was always open about the challenges involved: Accomplished California Teachers had over 300 "members" who had … Read More

            Re: E4E membership – it wasn’t my impression that they all come from LAUSD, but perhaps more broadly around L.A. Also, as someone who used to direct a teacher leadership network with a more modest budgets and operation, I can tell you that having “members” and having activity are quite different. Not giving away any secrets here – I was always open about the challenges involved: Accomplished California Teachers had over 300 “members” who had filled out a profile and joined our online community. Maybe 100 of them ever took one additional step by participating in the online community, attending an event, etc., and about 40-50 had involvement any deeper than that. I’m not sure what E4E’s threshold is for “membership” though many of us recall that Students First claimed MILLIONS of “members” because they’d acquired email addresses through a petition. Bottom line: those numbers don’t mean much without additional info.

    • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

      Caroline, if you’ve ever had a child in a class where the teacher calls in sick much of the time and fails to lift a finger to teach let alone inspire her students, you would not be blaming some nameless billionaires. And by the way, most of the billionaires in question are Democrats.

      • CarolineSF 2 years ago2 years ago

        Don, I've encountered troubled teachers in my 26 kid-years as a San Francisco Unified School District parent. (I advocated strongly to remove one from the classroom years ago, in a situation where a formerly competent teacher was experiencing an evident emotional breakdown after traumatic personal troubles. Her administrator, apparently (I surmise) not wanting to crack down on a troubled person and hoping she would recover, made no official reports. The union tried to speak … Read More

        Don, I’ve encountered troubled teachers in my 26 kid-years as a San Francisco Unified School District parent.

        (I advocated strongly to remove one from the classroom years ago, in a situation where a formerly competent teacher was experiencing an evident emotional breakdown after traumatic personal troubles. Her administrator, apparently (I surmise) not wanting to crack down on a troubled person and hoping she would recover, made no official reports. The union tried to speak up for the teacher with — for some time — no information on the situation except what the teacher herself told her union rep, which needless to say was not the information that others would have given. Other teachers were reporting the problems, along with parent advocates like me. This demonstrates the likely complexities.)

        Yes, troubled teachers exist. But that doesn’t mean that the claim that “bad teachers who can’t be fired because of the union are the cause of the problems in public education” is true. That’s a myth; it’s false (and malicious). The huge challenge in high-poverty schools is the inability to KEEP teachers, not “bad teachers who can’t be fired because of the union.” The myth is the opposite of the truth. (Teach for America was founded on the basis of the real situation, the inability to keep teachers.)

        There’s probably a name for the logical fallacy demonstrated by the claim that *because troubled teachers exist, that must mean it’s true that the problems in public education are caused by bad teachers who can’t be fired because of the union.* And the upside-down version, the oft-repeated claim that *people who dispute the myth that the problems in public education are caused by bad teachers who can’t be fired because of the union thus are saying there are no problem teachers.* Both those claims are flamboyantly illogical; maybe someone else knows the name of that fallacy.

        Anyway, the point is that it’s a myth that the problems in public education are caused by “bad teachers who can’t be fired because of the union,” and there’s a powerful and pervasive apparatus promoting that myth.

        • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

          The two issues of teacher shortages and teacher competency overlap, but they are fundamentally separate problems. No company would entertain the idea that an incompetent employee should be kept for the long term because the position is hard to fill. The myths about teachers are driven by political considerations where, on the one hand, they are scapegoated for all the problems in education and, on the other hand, they are treated as inconsequential. Just the … Read More

          The two issues of teacher shortages and teacher competency overlap, but they are fundamentally separate problems. No company would entertain the idea that an incompetent employee should be kept for the long term because the position is hard to fill.

          The myths about teachers are driven by political considerations where, on the one hand, they are scapegoated for all the problems in education and, on the other hand, they are treated as inconsequential. Just the other day you said that it would make no difference academically if the staffs of low and high performing schools were switched. That indicates to me that you don’t attach much significance to teacher quality given the well documented higher incidence of experienced teachers at higher performing schools.

          • CarolineSF 2 years ago2 years ago

            Yes, that is what I said: It would make no difference if the staffs at higher-performing schools (which are inevitably higher-performing because they serve students from demographics that are statistically likely to be high academic achievers) and lower-performing schools (which are inevitably lower-performing because they serve students from demographics that are statistically likely to be low academic achievers) were switched. It would make no difference. I do attach significance to teacher quality, but it is SO … Read More

            Yes, that is what I said: It would make no difference if the staffs at higher-performing schools (which are inevitably higher-performing because they serve students from demographics that are statistically likely to be high academic achievers) and lower-performing schools (which are inevitably lower-performing because they serve students from demographics that are statistically likely to be low academic achievers) were switched. It would make no difference.

            I do attach significance to teacher quality, but it is SO hugely outweighed by the challenges of impoverished students and the advantages of privileged students that it’s a blip by comparison.

            It’s also a misconception that there are simply “good teachers” and “bad teachers”.

            As the wife of a veteran substitute teacher who taught in different schools on different days for quite a few years, I can tell you that a teacher can be a great teacher in one class in one school one day and a struggling teacher in a different class in a different school another day.

            The reference to the “well documented higher incidence of experienced teachers at higher performing schools” is also based on confusion. In the teaching field, as in most, including mine and presumably yours (Don’s, and those of all you EdSource readers, commenters and staff), more experience and more success in your field probably earns you a path to a more desirable assignment, position, location etc.

            In teaching, it’s overwhelmingly harder to work with a class of impoverished students who suffer all the afflictions that accompany poverty, plus who are vastly more likely to attend a struggling school with insufficient resources. While teaching isn’t an easy job, teaching in a school serving students who are demographically likely to be high academic achievers is wonderfully cushy by comparison. Plus that almost always means the school has greater resources. So the more experienced teachers are likely to end up in the schools with the higher academic achievement — it’s the way the world works.

            Ironically, one theme of the “reform” sector is that experienced teachers are likely to be burned-out deadwood and that bright-eyed young newbies teaching as a temporary lark on their way to their real career are superior. So the “reform” lines contradict each other in promoting that theme while also claiming that inexperienced teachers are the cause of low achievement in high-poverty schools.

            • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

              Caroline, it's not just that bad teachers stay. If every teacher had to worry about being laid off, promoted, demoted, getting bonuses, reviews, references, it changes the behavior of all. Teachers would miss fewer days, work later, spend more time tutoring kids, pay more attention to metrics. If principals talked about extra work that needed to be done, people would do it. You'd only have to fire a very few, the rest would … Read More

              Caroline, it’s not just that bad teachers stay. If every teacher had to worry about being laid off, promoted, demoted, getting bonuses, reviews, references, it changes the behavior of all. Teachers would miss fewer days, work later, spend more time tutoring kids, pay more attention to metrics. If principals talked about extra work that needed to be done, people would do it. You’d only have to fire a very few, the rest would just know they could be fired and work harder as a result. It’s why private business runs more effectively.

              And yes, my children have had awful teachers who didn’t try. When teachers like that survive, it makes every mediocre teacher feel good by comparison, not feel a drive to improve like the average Google engineer feels. At Google, everyone is very hard working but feels they don’t work hard enough. That anxiety spurs effort. The insecurity drives more than self-esteem, contrary to what you’d expect. Insecurity is good.

            • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

              If unions want to reach out to the membership they ought to consider the wide girth of political opinion among its members. There's a reason why only 1 in 4 vote in a UTLA election. Could it be that many don't feel the union represents their interests? When I was a teacher long ago, I attended a United Educators of San Francisco meeting. That was the first and last. I might as well have … Read More

              If unions want to reach out to the membership they ought to consider the wide girth of political opinion among its members. There’s a reason why only 1 in 4 vote in a UTLA election. Could it be that many don’t feel the union represents their interests?

              When I was a teacher long ago, I attended a United Educators of San Francisco meeting. That was the first and last. I might as well have attended the local chapter of the Communist Party and I’m quite sure some outspoken union members are also so affiliated, as is their right to be. But it was an eye-opening experience for me. Teacher unions are training grounds for far left activism and that’s a turn-off for many members of the profession, not only for those who are not so ultra-liberal, but also for those who don’t want politics to be the main driver of union participation. In general, union leadership is not representative and its overt political character is not consistent with the attitudes of many and perhaps most members, varying of course by local union.

              With regard to Caroline’s assumption about school resources, I’m not sure what she means by “sufficient”. If the achievement gap is the litmus test then it would never be sufficient as long as a gap exists. What I know is that here in San Francisco Unified, when it comes to resources the opposite of what she says is true: low-performing schools have far and away more resources than high-performing ones, from class sizes of half to two-thirds, to more administrators, counselors, health professionals, community liaisons, teachers on special assignment, coaches, tutors and other third party providers. To the extent that these services are needed I don’t begrudge them. But let’s not forget that, at least here in SF, the underserved is a myth if the above resources are any measure. And even with all these resources increased achievement increases at low-performing school have been minimal at best with SFUSD still holding last place for largest achievement gap among California’s large urban districts. That’s why SFUSD wants to redefine “improvement’ with its School Quality Index.

  3. Roger Grotewold 2 years ago2 years ago

    Educators who believe in every public school educator paying a fair share for bargaining on their behalf need to pay attention to this story. This is perhaps the most important issue ever in gaining positive results for public school programs in California. The Christian and private School advocates are hoping that this will weaken our public schools and hope that the end results will be the end of public education. A tremendous increase … Read More

    Educators who believe in every public school educator paying a fair share for bargaining on their behalf need to pay attention to this story. This is perhaps the most important issue ever in gaining positive results for public school programs in California. The Christian and private School advocates are hoping that this will weaken our public schools and hope that the end results will be the end of public education. A tremendous increase in their enrollment and control of our educational values and moral direction is their aim, in my judgment. Pay heed, public school educators.