Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Local Educators Fight Back De-certifying NEA and its State Affiliate
A group of teachers from a district about 70 miles north of Topeka has voted to lessen their ties to the state's main teachers' union, becoming the second district to do so in 2013.
Teachers in Vermillion Unified School District 380, which includes Centralia and Frankfort, voted 27-9-1 Friday to end collective bargaining representation by the Kansas National Education Association. In "de-certifying," the Vermillion teachers joined their southwest Kansas counterparts in Deerfield, which took similar action by an 11-10 vote in June.

News of the Vermillion vote was released by Garry Sigle, executive director of the Kansas Association of American Educators, who wrote via email that "the unaffiliated group of teachers that I had been working with won the election over the NEA State affiliated KNEA group."

Sigle, reached by phone said the decision means each Vermillion teacher will get to vote on who will represent them in collective bargaining talks, rather than only those who pay KNEA dues getting a vote.

He said he was part of a similar movement in 2009 in Riley County.
“Everybody has an opportunity to have a say rather than just those who choose to pay KNEA dues,” Sigle said.

Karen Godfrey, president of the KNEA, said Vermillion's de-certification wasn’t unexpected because the process has been underway for some time.

“It’s always a right that they have to do that," Godfrey said. "And we will still have members in Vermillion, and we’ll provide membership opportunities to those members.”

(I'll bet she wasn't so pleasant during the process though! Chajoling, threatening, and vindictive are the words that come to my mind from my experiences. RA)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sawtion Retaliation

Public Employees and First Amendment Rights

This page provides some qualified answers to the following questions:

1. How does the First Amendment protect public employees?
2. Do I have any other protections against being discharged as a public employee?
3. What has the U.S. Supreme Court said about the First Amendment rights of public employees?
4. What must I prove to win a First Amendment retaliation case?
5. What are matters of "public concern"?
6. What are not generally considered matters of "public concern?"
7. How can I tell the difference between matters of "public concern" and those which are not?
8. What is the balancing test courts use to decide these cases?
9. Aren't these factors vague or subjective?
10. Is speech protected even if it is just part of doing my job?
11. I am a high school teacher. Can the school censor what I teach my students?
12. Is filing a grievance protected the same as speech?
13. What time limits apply to First Amendment retaliation cases?
14. Do I have other remedies?
15. Do I have to look for a job once I've lost mine?
16. Should I get a lawyer?

1. How does the First Amendment protect public employees?
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

The first thing to know about the First Amendment is that it is a limit only on government. It prohibits the federal government from making laws that infringe on the rights of religion, speech, press, assembly and petition. Through the Fourteenth Amendment, state and local governments are also prohibited from infringing on these rights. Yet, one of the most powerful restraints on individual freedom is the power of employers to discharge workers. If your employer is a private entity, the First Amendment offers you no protection from being fired on account of what you say. (You may still have protection from other sources described below, or in the one state that abolished employment-at-will, Montana).

Public employees, on the other hand, work for the government. So, public employees do have protection from retaliation for exercising certain First Amendment rights. Courts have been cautious in this area, limiting the protection to speech that is on matters of "public concern." The Supreme Court is not yet ready to say that public employees are protected from retaliation for any First Amendment activity. Thus, while the government could not put someone in jail for complaining about a meager raise, the government might still be able to fire a public employee for this reason, unless the complaint was a matter of "public concern."

2. Do I have any other 
protections against being discharged as a public employee?
Many, but not all, public employees have other protections. If you belong to a union, you are likely to be protected from any discharge that is without "just cause." This right is protected by binding arbitration. Similarly, many state and local governments have civil service laws that promise continued employment during good behavior. The civil service laws typically create a government agency to conduct hearings on whether there is sufficient evidence to justify a discharge or long suspension. Public employees with these rights will want to carefully consider whether to pursue these protections with an administrative agency, or alternatively a First Amendment case in court. You (and your attorney) will need to consider the merits of your claims, as well as the reputation of the arbitrators, civil service agency, and the courts in your area. You may also consider pursuing both options, accepting the risk that a decision in one case may possibly control the outcome of the other.
There are also protections for those whistleblowers who report government illegality, waste, and corruption, whose reports are likely to make the perpetrators mad. By protecting the rights of whistleblowers, we can discourage not only the retaliation, but also the corruption itself. See our site's section on whistleblowing for more information

3. What has the U.S. Supreme Court said about the First Amendment rights of public employees?
The Supreme Court has ruled that public employee speech involving matters of public concern constitutes protected speech under the First Amendment.
The U.S. Supreme Court first recognized that public employees could sue for retaliation in 1968. In the case Pickering v. Board of Education,  the Court set out the balancing test that remains controlling law today:
"the interests of the [employee] as a citizen, in commenting on matters of public concern" must be balanced against "the interest of the State as an employer, in promoting the efficiency of the public services it performs through its employees."
In other words, if you bring a claim against your employer under the First Amendment, you must convince the court that your interest in speaking openly on a matter of public concern outweighs the government's interest in having an efficient workplace.
This is an important right, because, as the Supreme Court has conceded, government employees are often in the best position to learn the deficiencies in the government agencies for which they work. It is important to allow government employees to make these deficiencies open to the community, so the public can debate how to improve them.

4. What must I prove to win a First Amendment retaliation case?
To win a retaliation case under the First Amendment, a court must find that:
 the plaintiff was engaged in a constitutionally protected activity;
 the defendant's adverse action caused the plaintiff to suffer an injury that would likely chill a person of ordinary firmness from continuing to engage in that activity; and
 the adverse action was motivated at least in part as a response to the exercise of the plaintiff's constitutional rights.

For a public employee claiming retaliation by the employer, the court must also find that:
 the employee's speech was a matter of 'public concern'; and
 the interest of the employee as a citizen, in commenting on matters of public concern, outweighs the employer's interest in promoting the efficiency of the public services it performs through its employees.

What are matters of "public concern"?
Since the First Amendment is a constitutional principle, the doctrines that interpret it come from a series of court cases, rather than laws that have been passed. The courts add to the list of what subjects are of "public concern" only when a particular case requires them to decide on a new issue. We can look to some of those cases to discern what is, and is not, of "public concern."

The Supreme Court has found the following speech to be of public concern:
the allocation of school funds, and the administration's methods of informing, or not informing, the taxpayers of the real reasons why additional tax revenues were being sought for schools,
testifying before a state legislature,

a memorandum relating to teacher dress and appearance that the school principal had circulated to various teachers at a public school, statements concerning a School District's allegedly racially discriminatory policies, where speech criticizes government inefficiency and waste, not as an aggrieved employee, but as a concerned citizen,

staff psychologist criticizing a hospital for unnecessary psychotropic drugs, failing to provide safe working conditions, and inadequately supervising a penal code patient,
the manner in which police and fire fighters performed upon a particular occasion,
adequacy of funding for emergency services, environmental violations at wastewater treatment plant,

 an elementary school teacher who claimed she was fired for inviting actor Woody Harrelson to come speak to her class about the environmental benefits of hemp.

6. What are not generally considered matters of "public concern?"
The Supreme Court has ruled that when employee expression cannot be fairly considered as relating to any matter of political, social, or other concern to the community, government officials should not have to suffer too much interference with managing their offices.
Your employer may dismiss you for speech that is not considered of public concern, such as employee grievances concerning internal office policy, such as a petition circulated by an Assistant District Attorney to other Assistant District Attorneys about the office's transfer policy, office morale, and whether a grievance committee was needed. However, a person dismissed for such activity would have the same First Amendment protections a non-employee would have in a libel or other case.

7. How can I tell the difference between matters of "public concern" and those which are not?
The result of various Supreme Court cases is that some speech is more clearly of "public concern" than others. Matters of elections, pending legislation, corruption, race discrimination, public health and safety are in the zone of public concern. Matters of internal employment policy that do not touch on these public concerns are normally unprotected.

Other matters may or may not be of "public concern," depending on the scope of media attention, controversy, or, on the other hand, how deeply they disrupt the function of the public office. Sometimes we just cannot tell what a court will do with a case raising a new area or an issue that raises strong concerns about both public policy and internal disruption. As the Supreme Court stated in Connick v. Myers: 

"Whether an employee's speech addresses a matter of public concern must be determined by the content, form, and context of a given statement, as revealed by the whole record."
Balancing test courts use to decide these cases? 

Once a plaintiff states a claim for unlawful retaliation, a court must decide if
"the interest of the employee as a citizen, in commenting on matters of public concern, outweighs the employer's interest in promoting the efficiency of the public services it performs through its employees."

Courts have to make this decision after weighing the facts of each particular case. Some balancing factors for a court to consider include whether:
 the statement impairs discipline by superiors or harmony among coworkers,
 the statement has a detrimental impact on close working relationships for which personal loyalty and confidence are necessary, and

 whether the speech in question interferes with the normal operation of the employer's business.
The extent of the government's burden to show disruption depends on the nature of the employee's expression. The more important the First Amendment interest, the more disruption the government has to show. A speaker's "personal stake" in a controversy does not prevent speech on the issue from involving a matter of public concern.

9. Aren't these factors vague or subjective?
Yes, these factors may seem vague or subjective. For example, even though the education of special needs students is clearly a matter of public concern, a principal may lawfully discharge teachers for disobeying an order to quit talking about this subject. The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals held that the speech "resulted in school factions and disharmony among their co-workers and negatively impacted [the principal's] interest in efficiently administering the middle school." Fales v. Garst. 

Compare this result to Belyeu v. Coosa County Bd. of Education,  where the Court of Appeals in Atlanta upheld the rights of a teacher's aide who called for a commemoration of Black History Month in a speech to a PTA meeting. Immediately after the meeting, the principal told her he wished she had raised this issue privately rather than publicly. A lower court determined that the speech clearly touched on a matter of public concern, but that the school system's interest in avoiding racial tensions outweighed the aide's right to free speech. On appeal, however, the Court reversed, writing that the aide's "remarks did not disrupt the School System's function by enhancing racial division, nor, based on the nature or context of her remarks, was her speech likely to do so."

10. Is speech protected even if it is just part of doing my job?
This question was recently answered by the U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision. In the case of Garcetti v. Ceballos,  the Court decided that employees must be acting as private citizens to receive First Amendment protection. That is, they are not acting as private citizens while performing their job duties. In essence, the boss can control what is said on the job, but not what the employee says on matters of public concern as a private citizen.
The Court stated, "We hold that when public employees make statements pursuant to their official duties, the employees are not speaking as citizens for First Amendment purposes, and the Constitution does not insulate their communications from employer discipline."
So, to receive First Amendment protection, the employee must apparently be on his or her own time (clocked-out), and speaking in a forum for citizen expression on matters of public concern. Those employees who claim that they were just "doing their jobs too well" will find that they no longer have First Amendment protection. (They may still have protection under specific laws; for example, if they report environmental violations as required by federal law, then the environmental laws will still provide protection against adverse employment actions.)
The Garcetti decision is a setback for public employees, and we can look forward to further developments in the law as legislators consider the need for new laws, and courts issue further decisions in this area.

11. I am a high school teacher. Can the school censor what I teach my students?
The speech of teachers in the classroom represents the school's educational product. Most courts apply to teachers' speech the more deferential standard that asks whether there is a legitimate educational reason for the school board's policy.
One federal appeals court determined that any form of censorship must be reasonably related to a legitimate educational reason. However, many courts are highly deferential to employer interests, especially public school officials. For example, in Fowler v. Bd. of Education of Lincoln County, Ky.,  a teacher found no protection from the Cincinnati appeals court after she showed an R-rated movie (Pink Floyd -- The Wall) to her class.
As a result, teachers should understand that the traditional First Amendment rights of academic freedom generally accorded to university professors are much more limited in public primary and secondary schools.

12. Is filing a grievance protected the same as speech?
Yes, and perhaps even more so. Through the "petition clause" of the First Amendment, the Constitution's Framers recognized that those who ask government to address unfairness face an extra risk of retaliation. Through the "petition clause," they flatly prohibited any restraint on petitioning government for redress of grievances. At worst, courts will treat a petition as "speech" and require that it pass both the "public concern" and balancing tests before protecting public employees who present grievances.

However, different courts have different views on whether the "public concern" standard should apply to retaliatory dismissal of a public employee who files a "petition."
With a labor grievance, the government can hardly claim that the employee was being disruptive, since the employee is following the government's own policy on how to file the grievance. Hopefully other courts will see the light that the right to petition is not limited to matters of public concern. Until then, many labor activists will suffer retaliation without a remedy.

13. What time limits apply to First Amendment retaliation cases?
The time limit for federal employee claims of retaliation in violation of the First Amendment will depend on the administrative remedies available. If you have a right to appeal an adverse employment action, for example to the Merit System Protection Board (MSPB), then you do not have a right to sue in court. The time limit for MSPB appeals is typically thirty (30) days. See the MSPB's Appeal Process for more information.

A federal whistleblower who filed a complaint with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) will have sixty-five (65) days after OSC issues a notice of termination of its investigation. If OSC takes longer than 120 days, then an appeal can be filed anytime thereafter (up until 60 days after receipt of notice from OSC).

The time limit for state and local employees to file a lawsuit for violating the First Amendment varies from state to state. This is because Congress did not establish a time limit for claims under the federal law that allows people to sue when someone acting "under color of state law" violates rights guaranteed by federal law. So, the Supreme Court has said that federal courts should use the time limit for personal injury claims in the state where the court is located. This is the same time limit set by each state for automobile accident claims. Depending on the state, the time limits run from one year (Kentucky, Louisiana and Tennessee) to six years (Maine and North Dakota). You can find the time limit in your state from web pages like:
Personal Injury Statute of Limitations

14. Do I have other remedies?
Some states may recognize that a discharge in violation of the First Amendment is a wrongful discharge and allow you to sue for damages in state court. See, for example, the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act. 

We can also ask our state legislators to adopt the Montana law that abolished employment-at-will. In Montana, no employee who has successfully completed the probationary period can be fired without cause. Montana adopted the statute in the 90's and its economy did not stop. Still, no other state government has adopted a similar law. If you are unlawfully fired, you can also apply for unemployment compensation benefits. See our site's termination section for more information.

15. Do I have to look for a job once I've lost mine?
Whenever anyone has a legal claim against another, they have a duty to mitigate damages. That means you have to do what you can to minimize the damages. In retaliation and discrimination cases, a discharged worker has a duty to look for new employment. If the other side can convince the judge or jury that you did not do what was reasonable, you could win your case and be awarded one dollar (nominal damages). In employment cases, you must make a good faith effort to reduce the money that you have lost because your former employer caused you to lose your job. This means that you need to actively look for another job. For more information, please see our site's mitigation page.

16. Should I get a lawyer?
It is difficult for most lay people to collect all the useful evidence, organize it into a persuasive story, and comply with all the procedural rules to win a retaliation case. Some lawyers with experience will accept cases even when the client cannot afford to pay regular fees. If the lawyer has enough confidence in the client and in winning the case, the lawyer may accept the case on a contingent basis. The lawyer will trust the judge to award fair attorney fees after the client has won a favorable decision. Clients will benefit from shopping around for a lawyer as soon as possible after the employer's first adverse action. Then the lawyer can help make sure the complaint gets filed on time and at the right place. The lawyer can also help make sure that the most important facts are disclosed in the first statement of the complaint. When you shop around for an attorney, look for attorneys who have experience in employment matters.

Critically Missing Children - The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

Critically Missing Children

A critically missing child is one who is at an elevated risk of danger if not located as soon as possible due to the circumstances surrounding the child's disappearance. A child's age or mental/physical condition can be factors in determining whether a child is deemed to be critically missing.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) intakes reports regarding critically missing children.  The case management teams provide support to law enforcement and families to help bring missing children home. NCMEC intakes reports of children ages 18, 19 and 20 at the request of law enforcement pursuant to Suzanne's Law, codified at 42 U.S.C. § 5779(a).

Law enforcement must act quickly and devote as many resources as possible when a child is reported missing. Case management teams at NCMEC work to maximize all available operational, analytical and technological resources including Team Adam and the U.S. Department of Justice's AMBER Alert Program.

First responding officers need to consider all possible scenarios in which the child may be missing. This could include abduction, injury or the child is simply running late coming home. Law enforcement's response needs to be driven by an assessment of risk factors or endangerment to the child.

Each critically missing child is unique so a general risk assessment for the missing child should include a review of situational, environmental, behavioral and psychological factors and considerations.

To report a child missing or if you believe you have seen a missing child, call  National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) toll-free 24 hours a day at:

1-800-843-5678 or (1-800-THE-LOST)

Suzanne's Law

The PROTECT Act of 2003 contains a provision recognizing the U.S. Congress' concern for the safety of missing young adults — ages 18, 19 and 20 — especially those missing in a circumstance outside their normal pattern of behavior.

The provision, known as Suzanne's Law, codified at 42 U.S.C. § 5779(a), extends the same reporting and investigative procedures already provided to children younger than 18 to individuals under the age of 21. Law enforcement is required to enter the report of missing young adults covered by Suzanne's Law into the FBI's National Crime Information Center database without delay and subsequently conduct an investigation.

Additionally this law lets NCMEC open cases regarding missing young adults at the request of law enforcement. For more information about Suzanne's Law contact NCMEC at 1-800-843-5678

Friday, April 12, 2013

AB 9 Seth's Law - The Resounding SLAP to the Faces of Victims and Educators Alike.

California AB 9 "Seth’s Law” is a relatively new law (July 1, 2012.) that somewhat strengthens state anti-bullying laws to “help protect all California public school students.” 

This writer feels as a public school counselor that AB 9 doesn’t do nearly enough and has a glaring flaw that renders it effectively useless.

Seth’s Law is named after a 13-year-old California student who tragically took his own life in 2010 after years of anti-gay bullying that his school failed to address. The latter is an overwhelmingly common theme in student suicides caused by the destructive atmosphere of peer bullying.

Seth’s Law requires public schools in California to update their anti-bullying policies and programs, further it’s authors state, it focuses on protecting students who are bullied based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity/gender expression, as well as race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, disability and religion.

California law says that all public school students should have equal rights and opportunities. Free of hindrance towards the learning process. However, many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning students report that they experience significant bullying in California schools under previous statute and loosely organized attempts to prevent this. Further, teachers, administrators, and other staff often fail to address the bullying when they see it. 

AT A GLANCE: The California State anti-bullying law requires school districts to:

Adopt a strong anti-bullying policy that specifically spells out prohibited bases for bullying, including sexual orientation and gender identity/gender expression.

Adopt a specific process for receiving and investigating complaints of bullying, including a requirement that school personnel intervene if they witness bullying.

Publicize the anti-bullying policy and complaint process, including posting the policy in all schools and offices.

Post on the district website materials to support victims of bullying.

School Personnel Must Intervene
Seth’s Law specifically contains the following requirement: “If school personnel witness an act of discrimination, harassment, intimidation, or bullying, he or she shall take immediate steps to intervene when safe to do so.” (Education Code Section 234.1(b)(1)) (See definition of "Intervene" below)

234, 234.1, 234.2, 234.3 AND 234.5

Each School District is Required to Adopt a Policy
that prohibits discrimination, harassment, intimidation, and bullying that applies to all acts related to school activity or school attendance occurring within a school. Under Seth’s Law, the policy must specifically pro-hibit discrimination, harassment, intimidation, and bullying based on these actual or perceived characteristics: disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation. Discrimination, harassment, intimidation or bullying directed at someone associated with a person or group with one or more of the listed actual or perceived characteristics is also prohibited. (Education Code Section 234.1(a))

Anti-Bullying Complaint Process
School districts must adopt a process for receiving and investigating complaints of discrimination, harassment, intimidation, or bullying. The process must include a timeline to investigate and resolve complaints and an appeals process for the complainant. All complaints are to remain confidential, as appropriate, and schools are required to protect complainants from retaliation. (Education Code Section 234.1(b) & (f))

Publication of Anti-Bullying Policy and Complaint Process
School districts must publicize their anti-bullying policy and complaint process, including information about how to file a complaint, to students, parents, and the general public. The anti-bullying policy must be posted in all schools and offices, including staff lounges and student government meeting rooms. The anti-bullying policy and any complaint process forms must be translated, as appropriate. (Education Code Section 234.1(c) & (d))

Posting of Bullying Resources
School districts are required to post and annually update support resources to youth who have been subjected to school-based discrimination, harassment, intimidation, or bullying and their families on their websites. A list of these resources must also be provided to each school within the district. (Education Code Section 234.5)

From the California Department of Education:
Sample Action Plan for Local Educational Agencies
  1. Policy Revision

    Action Steps:
    1. Review current harassment/discrimination policy
    2. Add "intimidation and bullying based on the actual or perceived characteristics" to harassment/discrimination policy
    3. Add "intimidation and bullying" to complaint process
    4. Add language for staff taking immediate actions when safe to do so
    5. Submit policy for board adoption
  2. Timeline for Investigation

    Action Steps:
    1. Work with school sites to identify a realistic timeline for investigation
    2. Develop check-list for proper investigations
    3. Provide language on the number of days and process to investigate a complaint to include in policy
  3. Appeals Process

    Action Steps:
    1. Revise current appeals process to include Assembly Bill 9 requirements
    2. Develop or revise current forms
    3. Add district staff contact for appeals of findings
  4. Translate All Forms

    Action Steps:
    1. Submit revised forms for translation
    2. Identify high need languages
    3. Translate all documents
    4. Maintain records for costs to translate
  5. Publicize Policy

    Action Steps:
    1. Revise student handbooks to comply with AB 9
    2. Revise employee handbooks to comply with AB 9
    3. Place revised harassment policy, reporting process, complaint process, and appeals process on school site and district Web sites
  6. Post the Policy

    Action Steps:
    1. Identify all rooms where policy must be posted
    2. Duplicate policy and laminate
    3. Post policy in offices, staff lounges, pupil government rooms, and other locations as appropriate
  7. Maintain Documentation of Complaints and Resolution

    Action Steps:
    1. Electronic:
      1. Develop data-base with fields
      2. Identify staff to use the electronic form
      3. Provide training Whoops no money or time for lay teachers. We fired the counselors... Hmmm.
    1. Paper:
 .    Individual school sites must store and secure paperwork
      1. Copy must be sent to the district office lead
      2. Files should be maintained for a two-year period
  1. Ensure Complainants are Protected from Retaliation

    Action Steps:
    1. Discussion with students about retaliation and witness intimidation will be provided during behavior assemblies
    2. Student handbooks to be revised with statements and consequences for retaliation and witness intimidation
    3. Inform complainants of ways to report retaliation or intimidation
    4. Follow-up contact with complainants and parents
  2. Complainants’ Identities are Confidential as Appropriate

    Action Steps:
    1. Adhere to Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
    2. Investigate without using names of targets or reporters if possible
    3. Attempt to witness the act (documenting time, location, and people involved)
As perfectly illustrated in the state department of education’s sample action plan above. There are no tools to make the “action steps” about action towards change. There is absolutely no behavioral consequences positive or otherwise, offered to educators by which to make the elaborate design and it’s noble end effective towards protecting  bullied kids or changing the behavior of those students prone to bullying. Nothing, Nada, a motor with a forward direction but no source of fuel. 

Further, if AB 9 came with a plethora of effective and workable behavioral solutions, there is no offering of support for the inevitable fallout from parents who sadly enable bullying behavior in their children. In fact, school administrators are pushed more now than ever before to concede to the protests and threats of litigation from many of these parents, despite the good intentions behind California AB 9.


verb (used without object), in·ter·vened, in·ter·ven·ing.
1. to come between disputing people, groups, etc.; intercede; mediate.
2. to occur or be between two things.
3. to occur or happen between other events or periods: Nothing important intervened between     the meetings.
4. (of things) to occur incidentally so as to modify or hinder: We enjoyed the picnic until a thunderstorm intervened.
5. to interfere with force or a threat of force: to intervene in the affairs of another country.
6. Law. to interpose and become a party to a suit pending between other parties.
7. Education. to risk, life, limb, property and even retirement on a half-thought out flight of political fancy. Deviate statute to appease the well intended authors and victims of the California school bullying problem; not broached herein.

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    Indigent services program has more than doubled

    Here are three good reads to help fill the enormous gap between the surface hullaballoo about the nation's education crisis generated by WFS and Education Nation and the angry mob of teachers and educators who are seething against what some are calling the "war on teachers," (and their unions) -- Dana Goldstein's piece in The Nation about the successes of union-management collaboration (here), Jonathan Gyurko's piece on what Guggenheim left out of his piece (here), and Nick Lemann's New Yorker commentary about the overheated crisis rhetoric surrounding so-called reform (here). I'm hoping that there will be more about this in the mainstream sometime soon -- sketching out not only the controversies surrounding Guggenheim's proposed solutions but also the practical and political limits of going to war against traditional schools as we now now them. You'd think that the resounding defeat of Fenty and Rhee would have made this clear, but perhaps there wasn't enough time for it to sink into the journalistic consciousness enough before the WFS media juggernaut came through. Thank you. Alexander Russo July 19, 2010 Education Week.

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    Job Crisis Hits Union Membership HARD Again
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