June 3, 2008

Exhibit #473 for the Prosecution's Case That the NEA Has Less to Do with Education than Left-Wing Politics

Justin Katz

Yes, that's an organization composed mainly of teachers offering up unimaginative slogans that promote left-wing clichés:

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I was wondering what Pat "I struggle with basic math" Crowley and Bob "I never saw a Pension I didn't like" Walsh have been doing with their time. Now we know ...coming up with pathetic slogans to further their Education-less cause.

Any moron that suggests that the E in NEA has anything remotely to do with Education is a sorely misinformed union Kool-Aid drinker.

A single RI teacher in 2005/2006 earned, on average, $54,730 (NEA data), which is 104% of Rhode Island's Median Household Income of $52,421 (US Census).

This means that one single Union teacher is earning quite a bit more than the ENTIRE households of many Rhode Islanders. Add to the the near free Healthcare and the ridiculous Pensions that the Union hacks receive and it is no wonder why the state is on the verge of bankruptcy.

A RI teacher is earning $67,000+ after a mere 9 years of eployment, which is the private sector equivalent about $103,000 for someone that works 8 hours per day 48 weeks a year (teacher works 6.75 hours for 185 days).

Posted by: George Elbow at June 3, 2008 8:05 PM

I can't say I'm a supporter of the NEA,but teachers are not the cause of poor education achievement.
I believe that the home environment of many students combined with hi-tech distractions and Federally-imposed mandates make basic education today much less effective than in the Fifites when I was in grade school.
When I was in high school in the early Sixties we had the Regents Exams in NY State.These were straight up knowledge exams given at the end of each course of study(i.e.3 years of English;1 year of Biology,etc).I think teachers today are bombarded with input from too many directions,leading to a loose,sloppy curriculum.
It is shameful that we have regressed in primary and secondary education while advancing in so many other fields.I don't think scapegoating teachers is productive.
The NEA and other teachers unions are locked in a mutually destructive battle with their detractors (including school boards) and the losers are students.

Posted by: joe bernstein at June 3, 2008 8:55 PM

Hey I got one. A sad faced little kid on the T shirt and text underneath - "The teachers got all the money and there's nothing left for pencils and paper."

Or - George Orwell's visage and underneath - "NEARI-ism is objectively anti-child..."

Its so easy coming up with BS slogans. Hey, how come I don't get paid for them like the NEARI guys do?

Posted by: chuckR at June 3, 2008 10:08 PM

You don't have to be a union member to proudly wear one of those.

Posted by: rhody at June 4, 2008 12:33 AM

Irony abounds. They are "the rich" ... when "the rich" is defined as anyone making more money than you. It's a moving target. They are overpaid and underworked, yet they want more. Pure greed.

If this represents our opposition, we're doing better than I thought. As for the shirt, it's so stupid, I don't want to waste additional electrons commenting on it.

Posted by: Will at June 4, 2008 2:43 AM

It has Duck Boy's "Look how funny I am" stench all over it. He thinks he's hilarious but he also thinks he's a good advocate for teachers.

Posted by: Greg at June 4, 2008 6:39 AM

Quite funny to see union houseboy Rappleye interviewing Bobby Walsh as Bobby wore his little blue t-shirt. These B movie actors put the lame in lame. lol

PS: any truth to the rumor Rappleye swore he'd never wash his little blue tee again after Frank Montanaro touched it?

Posted by: Tim at June 4, 2008 7:44 AM

The tee-shirt is breath-takingly wrong, delusional and unoriginal.

A more accurate one would have been:

"My union leaders got paid hundreds of thousands last year and all I got was this stupid tee-shirt."

Posted by: Monique at June 4, 2008 8:14 AM

This shirt seems consistent with a Crowley stunt.

Classic crowd psychology: rile them up by fomenting a particular symbol, person, event or issue to incite and focus anger (e.g., "tax cuts for the rich").

Constantly repeat and reinforce that the rallying point / mantra so that the targeted audience forgets and/or gets mental tunnel-vision and tunes out other relevant considerations or countervailing arguments / positions.

Promote and keep reinforcing an "us" vs. "them" psychology, while simultaneously presenting yourself or your organization as the means to a "solution" to the issue (whether that issue is real, exaggerated or manufactured).

Throw in some street theater / group rallies to help accomplish the above by reinforcing "buy in" and a sense of action and accomplishment among the targeted group.

The reality is the even if those purported "tax cuts for the rich" were repealed, and static analysis were correct and there'd be a dollar for dollar "restoration" of state tax flows, it'd barely make a dent in the deficit.

By why let reality get in the way of inciting the rank and file?

And of course we have the class warfare angle to the shirt (which reinforces an assumption that Crowley's fingerprints are all over this - collectivists / Marxists and their ilk find it hard to resist the temptation to inject class warfare into nearly everything they say and do).

Posted by: Tom W at June 4, 2008 8:47 AM

Well, if the goal was to rile up the right and get some publicity, you all have played your part beautifully! Thanks for helping!

Posted by: Bob Walsh at June 4, 2008 11:06 AM

Riled now means laughing at you?

Posted by: Greg at June 4, 2008 11:43 AM

You guys are missing the point of the T-shirts. The NEARI is conceding that their Union members aren't getting any more raises, cuz all they're getting is a lousy T-shirt. We just have to make it so by voting out all the union Dems.

Posted by: BobC at June 4, 2008 1:05 PM

I'd love to see some t-shirts printed up that say:

"Save the platinum pensions!
Support NEARI."

"The heck with the children! Give me my cushy retirement!! Support NEARI."

"Please make your tax check directly payable to NEARI."

"This is a stick-up. Give me all your money, now! Support NEARI."

"Living large, and lovin' it!! Support NEARI."

"Living better than the public. Support NEARI."

"High taxes? What high taxes? Support NEARI."

"10 out of 10 union bosses agree that you should Support NEARI."

"Everything is the governor's fault. Support NEARI."

"Distribution of wealth is your obligation, comrade. Support NEARI."

You could use simple drawings of a stack of cash, bling, and maybe the front grill of a Rolls-Royce. For the last one maybe use a bust of Mao, Marx, Stalin, or Lenin.

Posted by: Citizen Critic at June 4, 2008 1:51 PM

Ooops, it should have said:

"Re-Distribution of wealth is your obligation, comrade. Support NEARI."

My favorite is probably:

"High taxes? What high taxes? Support NEARI."

...a pic of Alfed E. Neuman of that one would be great.

A few final ideas:

"My health care is better than your health care. Support NEARI."

"My pension is better than your pension. Support NEARI."

"I'm set for life, Baby! Support NEARI."

Posted by: Citizen Critic at June 4, 2008 2:01 PM

Joe Bernstein
We are in agreement here. Thanks for pointing out that societal problems lie at the root of our educational difficulties.

I got a tee shirt for you, "I am a mindless parrot."

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at June 4, 2008 3:43 PM

"teachers are not the cause of poor education achievement"

That may be, Joe. There was an OpEd to that effect last year by a RI teacher union official.

But if this is so, why have our elected officials allowed Rhode Island teachers to become the eighth highest paid in the country? Why are we overpaying for something that cannot be delivered?

Posted by: Monique at June 4, 2008 4:31 PM

If we accept that as truth...

Why do parents in other parts of the country seem to be so much more engaged in their children's development than Rhode Island parents?

Posted by: Greg at June 4, 2008 5:30 PM


You could ask the same thing about the state's voters.

Why are RI taxpayers so apathetic about their high taxes? Why do RI citizens tolerate public corruption? Why do RI voters elect such horrible public officials?

The problems in government and in education have common roots.

Posted by: Citizen Critic at June 4, 2008 5:40 PM

Monique-My daughter was a union teacher and my wife is a non-union teacher.I have met many of their colleagues and also other teachers while I've lived in RI and most of them seem to be committed to doing a good job.What I said about being caught between confusing and sometimes contradictory mandates and a student body that has societal problems that affect the ability to absorb what is offered is valid I believe,although I am certainly not that knowledgeable on the subject.There are rotten teachers to be sure,just like any other profession and you will not hear me praising a union leadership that seems self-absorbed and infelxible.
One step that needs to be taken is consolidation into four school districts.The current situation looks like a map of the Confederation of the Rhine during the Napoleonic Wars.
The teacher unions have to compromise and understand that public employees should not use the concept of a strike to threaten the public.
The large numbers of students requiring ESL and special ed is a major problem for this state.

Posted by: joe bernstein at June 4, 2008 5:54 PM

Joe Bernstein,

You've got to be kidding.

Please, don't fall for that perinial crutch that the "problem" is we have too many school districts and that Consolidation will solve our problems.

That is just a crutch and a diversion from dealing with the real issue, which is the teachers' Union, Bob Walsh, Pat "I can't do basic math" Crowley, & Co.

According to the NEA's own data (NEA Research December 2007), there are 48,727,526 students in the USA. There are 15,416 school districts. Thus, the average school district in the US has 3,161 students per district.

By comparison, RI has 161,237 students and 36 school districts. Thus, RI, on average, has 4,479 students per district, which is far greater than the national average. In fact, we'd need 51 school districts to equal the national average of 3,161 students per district.

So stop with the BS excuses.

The fact is that, as Monique noted, RI's teacher pay is in the top 10 in the nation, while performance is in the bottom 10. We are NOT getting a return on our investment, plain and simple.

Bob Walsh and his silly tee-shirt prove that the NEA and the Union could care less about EDUCATION, which was Justin's original and accurate point. All the NEA / Union cares about is COMPENSATION for their teachers. Their tee-shirt said nothing about education.

Stop defending these idiots.

RI has the second lowest student per teacher ratio in the natio at just 11.1 students per teacher.

Again, RI has some of the highest paid teachers in the nation, almost the lowest student per teacher ratio in the nation ...yet, by any measure, we have poor performance.

And you want to blame the kids? Give me a break.

And yes, there are bad teachers. And there are bad employees in the private sector too. The difference is that in the private sector bad employees get fired. Try to fire a teacher who gets tenure after 5 - 10 years who decides to become a lazyass teacher. It is next to impossible to get rid of the parasite.

Face it Joe, by any measure, the Unions can not be justified with respect to improving education. They exist for once purpose only and that is to maximize their member's compensation without regard to performance or the ability of the customer to pay.

They fear the Free Market like a mouse fears a cat.

Bob Walsh summed it up best when he said "if the goal was to rile up the right and get some publicity, you all have played your part beautifully". He thinks it is about the "right" vs the "left" as opposed to people accross the spectrum being fed up with the Union's love affair with mediocrity and meritless employment practices.

Stop worshipping at the alter of non-self reliance and non-accountability. It is so un-American.

Posted by: George Elbow at June 4, 2008 8:02 PM

George-I never said poor teachers shouldn't be fired.I believe in merit pay increases and sanctions for teachers who won't perform.
I didn't blame kids-but I do blame parents who couldn't care enough to even find out how their kids are doing.My parents each worked two jobs and yet found the time to make sure I did my homework,and they went to open school night and it was no joke if I got a bad report.
Nowadays teachers spend an inordinate amount of time on discipline.When I was growing up if a student couldn't behave at all,they were sent to a "600" school,which if you were in the service you would know was equivalent to the brig or stockade.Students learned to follow the rules in those schools.
I started off saying I was not an apologist for the teachers unions,but the whole curriculum has strayed from basic knowledge acquisition into "touchy-feely" areas.Who makes the curriculum?The Federal government has too much input and the social engineers even more.
How many parents today prohibit their kids from watching tv or playing video games until the school work is done?I'm not proud to say that we only batted .500 with our kids.My son dropped out of school and eventually got a GED.My daughter is working on her Phd.I am not a holier than thou type.I wish I could have convinced my son to stay in school.Some of his teachers were excellent,and a few sucked.The absolute worst one he had was in Illinois.
The idea of regionalization in all areas is a good idea for a small state like Rhode Island.Apparently you don't agree.Okay.Something tells me your point of view will prevail because no one likes to cede power.
Maybe the teachers will cahnge their leadership if they see the tide turning against them.I don't know-it's their choice.
My attitude about public employees,which I was for 26 years is that if you strike-goodbye-you're all fired.I took that attitude towards the air traffic controllers when I was a Federal employee.When you work for the public it's different than being an auto worker or something similar.

Posted by: joe bernstein at June 4, 2008 8:55 PM


It turns out, we are in agreement on almost everything.

Public education needs to be viewed as a Privledge, not a Right. We should NOT tolerate people that are NOT interested in learning. Our schools should be places where teachers teach and students learn, not daycare centers for people who have no interest in learning, as often times they are.

With respect to curriculums, I blame the NEA and the Unions. They are the biggest impediment to reform. Look what they did with the recent Mayoral Accadamies proposed by Cumberland's Mayor McKee. The Union fights EVERY effort to try something different. They cling to the status quo like a leech on a water-buffalo.

We need local School Committees to stand up and say "No" to the teacher Unions, coupled with taxpayers standing behind their school committees and supporting them, along with Collective Bargaining reform and a Right to Work state so that the good teachers that are interested in teaching as opposed to creating employment opportunities for hacks like Bob Walsh and Pat "I struggle with basic math" Crowley can comfortabley work and pursue their careers without Union interference.

Posted by: George Elbow at June 4, 2008 9:10 PM

Wow - if most of your are this riled up now, wait until Governor's Tax Policy Workgroup gets started.

How many of you are actually running for office this year, by the way? (Note - you have to use your real name to run, and prove you have the courage of your convictions.)

Posted by: Bob Walsh at June 4, 2008 11:09 PM

So Katz,

Do you have the balls to put your money where your mouth is? Amaral is not running do you have the nads to run or are you a blog weeny full of hot air and nothing else?

Posted by: Jim at June 4, 2008 11:19 PM

The 3 stages:

1. When you hate the corrupt unions, you write letters to the ProJo and post here.

2. When you *really* hate the politics of RI, you run for office to try and change things, even though entrenched one party rule makes it near impossible to change anything.

3. But, when you really really really f***in' hate the socialism, the lies, the welfare fraud, the conflicts of interest, the endemic corruption, the apathy, the entitlement mentality, the massive fraud perpetrated on the overwhelming population of good people --then you move out.

Greetings from Northern Idaho!

Posted by: Citizen Critic at June 5, 2008 1:41 AM


Why would it take balls to run for office? Because I might lose? Whoopdeedoo.

I'm just not interested in being that directly involved in politics, and I don't expect I'd be all that good at it. In other words, my assessment is that I can have more of an effect as an observer and commentator (which does involve some risk and sacrifice on the rebel side).

Posted by: Justin Katz at June 5, 2008 6:16 AM

Hah! And these stupid bastards in the teacher's union wonder why they get no respect. Duh!

Posted by: Mike Cappelli at June 5, 2008 6:17 AM


You dope. Didn't you get Bob "I never saw a Public Pension I didn't Like" Walsh's memo?

Ken the Union Kool-Aid drinker has a copy of the memo. It is authored by the same morons that created the Pensions that have the current $5B shortfall.

But don't worry, they fixed the assumptions. In fact, they are using the famous "Walshian Assumptions". So just pretend they didn't get it wrong the last time and that this time everything will be all right.

Sit back, relax and have a sip of the Kool-Aid and you'll be fine. Trust me. It worked for Ken!

Posted by: George Elbow at June 5, 2008 2:40 PM
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