How Do You Spell ‘Teachers Union?’

This is the Choice Media Education Report for Friday, June 2, 2017.

Do teachers unions believe their members are happy? Or, do they think lots of teachers would quit the union, if they had the chance? Insight on that question from a story by Mike Antonucci in the 74, about the U.S. Supreme Court taking up what’s known as the Janus case, that could make teacher union membership truly voluntary in all 50 states, rather than just the 25-right to work states. Antonucci says the NEA union’s budget has been modified in the anticipation of a loss of 20,000 full-time members next school year. He cites similar evidence from teachers unions in New York City, California, and Washington state.

This is important because over the years, these unions have spent teachers’ money on all kinds of activism that has nothing to do with education, including abortion rights, stopping capital punishment, a verifiable nuclear freeze, whatever that means, and Hillary Clinton for President. In 2014, the AFT even gave $30,000 to the The Atlas Project, a group created “to help build the institutional memory of the progressive movement.” So it seems the unions aren’t just predicting they’ll lose this court case, but that in addition, many thousands of teachers will stop paying dues once they have the chance.

Speaking of the AFT union, a panel by the Education Writers Association started to resemble a smackdown debate on Wednesday, with AFT President Randi Weingarten trading barbs with Lindsey Burke of the Heritage Foundation.

When a new charter school opens, is that good for home prices? What do  you think? I’d file this in my obvious study conclusions folder, but nevertheless, A new study from Georgia State University shows property values… wait for it, yes they do increase near start up charter schools. Professor Peter Bluestone looked at homes in and around Atlanta.

This is interesting because it reverses the traditional school / home price dynamic. People usually move to areas with better schools and pay more for those homes — this says what if good new schools can move to you? What happens, is your home becomes more valuable.

Most people support the idea of great teachers making more money than they do now. But what about all teachers, even the below average ones? EAGNews reported on Wednesday that the average annual total compensation for a teacher in Central Islip, New York, including benefits, is: over $161,000.  Are the higher teacher salaries equating to better outcomes for students? Great schools.org says at the Central Islip high school, only 8% of kids are proficient in Algebra 1, about one-fourth the state average.

The Washington Post published the conclusions of a “Secret Report” by the DC Inspector General’s office this week. Doesn’t that sound clandestine?  It found the school district in 2015 gave the children of select VIP officials plum school assignments in what’s supposed to be a random lottery system.

The Post says superintendent Kaya Henderson, “openly acknowledged… that she gave special treatment to the children of government officials.” This, of course, preserving seats in the best DC schools for those beleaguered, downtrodden children of political privilege.

The national Spelling bee ended Thursday night. Can you spell marocain? You know, the type of dress fabric in a style of  ribbed crepe. Like this lady’s dress. Marocain. Do you know what that is? Me either. But you know who did? 12-year old Ananya Vinay. In last year’s bee she placed 172nd. But before winning this year, she had to endure 20 rounds against runner up — elder statesman and two years her senior, 14-year old Rohan Rajeev. He finally missed “marram,” a kind of beach grass. But she still needs to get two words right to win, and I suppose it’s some sort of tradition, but the spelling bee official then tells her, “If you spell this next word correctly, we will declare you the 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee Champion.” Hey thanks for the pressure. Finally she wins, looks like she’s not sure what to do, the runner up is like, hey I’m so happy for you, then she braces for impact from her proud father.

And finally, speaking of spelling, all of us have words we don’t know how to spell. What do we do? We often Google “How to Spell blank.”

Well someone at Google thought to put together a map of the United States indicating which words are most often searched in this way — by state.

For example, in Mississippi, the most commonly searched “how to spell” word was “nanny.”  Rhode Island clocks in with one of the two 4-letter words in the list. People googled “how to spell liar.” Is that because there are so many liars, or because they’re vigilant at catching liars? The other 4-letter word? Georgia’s description of its beaches — “Gray.” Just kidding. Do you know what the most frequently googled word for how to spell was in Wisconsin? Its Wisconsin.

Thanks for watching this edition of the Choice Media Education Report. If you’re looking for our smartphone app, you’ll need to spell “Choice Media.” See you next time.

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