I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Rhee Buys Herself Some Legislators

Teachers, Missouri shows you the future - pay heed:
Two Democratic legislators, including Minority Leader Mike Talboy, D-Kansas City, who received campaign contributions from Michelle Rhee's Students First helped give the organization its first legislative victory in Missouri Thursday.

A watered down HB 1526 eliminating the use of seniority in determining teacher layoffs passed by an 83-78 margin, one vote more than necessary, with Talboy, who received a $1,000 contribution from Students First on March 27, and Penny Hubbard, D-St. Louis, who banked a $500 check the same day, voting on the winning side. 
How the winning majority was obtained was described in a legislative report issued today by Missouri NEA:

The bill initially did not have the required constitutional majority of 82 votes, but the voting board was held open for nearly fifteen minutes while House Majority Floor Leader Tim Jones and other caucus leaders walked the floor, pressuring representatives to change their votes. Eventually, enough votes were changed to pass the bill by a vote of 83-76, one more than the required majority and the board was closed. 
Tim Jones also received a $1,000 campaign contribution from Students First. 
Of course he did.

I'd like to point out that Students First can go around and buy votes to strip teachers of their workplace protections, but they run and hide like cowards when the issue of who their backers are comes up. One would think the people of Missouri would like to know who is buying their legislators' votes so cheaply.

Here in Jersey, plutocratic State Senator Tom Kean, Jr. (R) is moving to stop any contributions teachers unions can make to candidates. He doesn't seem to care as much about finding out whether a campaign money-laudering operation like Students First is buying votes on behalf of their (reportedly) big-money donors like Rupert Murdoch, who has declared he'd like to replace teachers with computers running his software. Yeah, no conflict of interest there.

Back to Missouri:
Missouri Ethics Commission documents indicate at least seven other representatives, received contributions from Students First. Anne Zerr, R-St. Charles; Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City; Noel Torpey, R-Independence; Eric Burlison, R-Springfield; Kevin Elmer, R-Nixa; and Caleb Jones, R-California, received $500 checks and all voted for HB 1526.

Only one recipient of Students First money, Rep. Mike Colona, D-St. Louis, who received $1,000, voted against the bill.
I'm sure SF had no expectation Colona would be voting in their favor. I'm sure he'll get an even better check the next election cycle [/snark].
Another slap in the face for Missouri teachers. While portions of the bill requiring that standardized test scores be used as at least 50 percent of teacher evaluations were removed, this is undoubtedly the first step toward implementing this so-called reform.

It also opens the door for decisions on which teachers should be laid off to be based on personal reasons that have nothing whatsoever to do with education and (even though the bill says layoffs cannot be based on salaries) it is not hard to believe that creative administrators will find a way to save money by eliminating experienced teachers.
Which is what this is all about. We're going to turn teaching into an entry-level job where churn is the norm. No profession operates like that, but it's no surprise that Rhee would think this should be the new paradigm; that's how she approached teaching herself:

She admits she went into teaching thinking it was going to be a temporary career: and, for her, it was. She taught for three years, then moved on to promoting temporary teaching as career move for those attending elite colleges. The notion that she "was hooked" is absolutely absurd: like most TFAers, she left after only a few years.

She then went around and oversold her abilities as a genius in front of the chalkboard, when, in fact, the evidence suggests she was quite mediocre. She parlayed this highly questionable selling of herself into a three-year gig running the Washington, D.C. schools where, by her own standards, she failed.

Now she collects the money of the super rich to spend on buying legislators to take away workplace protections for the teachers who actually stayed in the job and did the hard work she couldn't do herself.

It is a sign of how far our media and our politics have sunk that this woman - a woman who has no discernible accomplishments, talent or commitment as an educator - is allowed to dominate our national conversation about schools.

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