For the past couple years, Wisconsin has been the locus of the political battle to weaken public-sector union power. After Gov. Scott Walker not only survived but thrived amid a failed recall election, conservatives breathed a sigh of relief. Most prominently, the costly but decisive victory revived hopes that fiscal sanity and a sense of fairness could be restored.
Modest cuts to lavish benefits for government employees, along with some of the accompanying tools approved in Walker’s controversial Budget Repair Bill, put the Badger State back on a healthy fiscal setting and brought compensation more back in line with private sector workers.
But a new video from the Association of American Educators reminds us that the Wisconsin reforms also promoted professionalism and individual empowerment for teachers. Walker’s state left the ranks of those where union monopoly power feeds off teacher tribute payments. (more…)
It’s funny how so many of those Colorado teachers union deadlines fall at inconvenient times. Want to sign up for one of the Colorado education Association’s local affiliates? You can do it any time. Want to opt out of union membership, perhaps to choose a different membership option? Well, finding the exact dates you can opt out depends on which school district you work in.
For so many, though, it comes at the beginning of the school year as classrooms are being decorated, lesson plans developed, routines established, and so much more. But September 15 passes before you can get down to the local union office — say, in Jeffco, Commerce City, Englewood, Longmont, or Canon City — and you have to wait another 350 days to stop the automatic union dues deduction. That’s about what happened to Denver Public Schools teacher Ronda Reinhardt, who finally was able to take advantage of the two-week November opt-out window after waiting nearly a full year.
But what about the teacher who wants to stick with the $750 or more in NEA/CEA dues per year but maybe doesn’t like the union’s sometimes unseemly political spending habits? Getting the $39, or even $63 (in some locations), back from the Every Member Option means submitting the request just before the
Christmas er, winter break at the December 15 deadline. (more…)
Finding enjoyable movie fare for American history geeks typically presents a challenge. The nature of the genre leaves diehard purists perpetually frustrated. Yet even those of us willing to allow some minor transgressions of fact or character to pass too often are disappointed by the shallow Hollywood luster that insults its audience and kicks a compelling true story to the curb. Now and again, though, one can leave the theater with a contented smile.
On Friday evening my wife and I took in Lincoln at the local multiplex. The usher at Arvada’s Olde Town Stadium Theatre entered the nearly packed auditorium and gave some introductory remarks about the movie’s production and casting. The movie, already a long time in director Steven Spielberg‘s conception, delayed an extra year to give lead actor Daniel Day-Lewis time to research and immerse himself in authentic historic character.
To great effect, the director patiently agreed. Day-Lewis’ performance as the 16th President is not only masterful, but Oscar-worthy. Taking the marble off the man, he eschewed the Hollywood shortcuts for a historically accurate voice (more shrill and tinny than booming and baritone). Lincoln emanates through the screen. Lincoln the father struggles to be attentive, often including his young Tad in important meetings. Lincoln the lawyer (“a sturdy profession”) recollects stories that drive home important principles and strategies, or breaks up the tension with one especially memorable account. (more…)