TIME OUT FOR TAX-EXEMPT TEACHERS UNION POLITICAL GORILLA NEEDS TO REVEAL ITS REAL STATUS AS SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP.
Byline: Alan Bonsteel
THE California Teachers Association The California Teachers Association (CTA), initially established in 1863 as the California Educational Society, is by far the largest teachers' union in the state of California. It is considered by many to be the most powerful union in California. is the 800-pound gorilla of California education. As the largest teachers union in the state, it has succeeded for years in blocking teacher-testing, merit pay Noun 1. merit pay - extra pay awarded to an employee on the basis of merit (especially to school teachers)
pay, remuneration, salary, wage, earnings - something that remunerates; "wages were paid by check"; "he wasted his pay on drink"; "they saved a quarter of all , an end to teacher tenure - and, most importantly Adv. 1. most importantly - above and beyond all other consideration; "above all, you must be independent"
above all, most especially , the right of parents to choose better schools for their children.
Despite its efforts at derailing some of the most obvious and desperately needed reforms of California's catastrophic public schools, its unending PR machine has masked its anti-reform mission from most of the public. Indeed, many California voters fail to recognize the CTA An abbreviation for cum testamento annexo, Latin for "with the will annexed." as the special interest group it is.
The CTA has grown arrogant, however, and, given enough rope, it may hang itself. In recent weeks, two simultaneous developments have put the CTA on a collision course with its own falsehoods, and its efforts to explain away the unexplainable may open the eyes of many.
In late November, the Internal Revenue Service announced an audit of the National Education Association, the CTA's national parent. For years, the NEA NEA
1. National Education Association
2. National Endowment for the Arts
NEA (US) n abbr (= National Education Association) → Verband für das Erziehungswesen has claimed to be a nonpolitical organization - and therefore tax-exempt - despite giving millions to political candidates and other political causes.
In 1993, the NEA got a ``get-out-of-jail-free'' card from the Clinton administration after an IRS An abbreviation for the Internal Revenue Service, a federal agency charged with the responsibility of administering and enforcing internal revenue laws. audit, presumably pre·sum·a·ble
That can be presumed or taken for granted; reasonable as a supposition: presumable causes of the disaster. because it had been a big donor to the Clinton-Gore campaign. The Bush administration, however, isn't going to cut it any slack, and if the IRS finds the obvious - that the NEA and the CTA are pervasively political - the unions could be slammed not just with back taxes to 1993, but with criminal indictments.
Under this kind of pressure, one would think the CTA would be keeping a low profile on the political front. But just days after the IRS announced its audit, the CTA filed an initiative called the ``Improving Classroom Education Act'' for the November 2004 ballot that would raise property taxes to pay for higher teacher salaries.
At a time when the state is staggering under a record deficit, the initiative would mandate spending $3 billion more per year on K-12 education, 88 percent of that on teacher salaries - or an $8,800 yearly increase for every teacher in the state. It would establish criminal penalties for noncompliance noncompliance
failure of the owner to follow instructions, particularly in administering medication as prescribed; a cause of a less than expected response to treatment.
noncompliance , putting an administrator rash enough to use the new tax money to fix a broken toilet at risk of being thrown in the slammer A worm that caused a billion dollars worth of damage on the Internet on January 25, 2003. Slammer infected computers all over the Internet by generating random IP addresses and causing the computer's buffer to overflow with its own instructions that replicate itself and start the process .
The initiative would also coerce charter schools and publicly funded preschools to force their teachers to join the CTA.
In 1988, the CTA was able to pass, by a slim margin, Proposition 98, which mandated a minimum spending floor for California public schools. That initiative was widely perceived as a unifier that brought to the same table numerous factions with an interest in California's public schools. The new initiative, however, would pit the CTA against every other stakeholder in California public education. It is such a blatant political power grab that one can only hope it will be transparent to the public and roundly rejected.
Equally important is what this initiative says about an organization that claims to be nonpolitical and therefore deserving of tax-exempt status.
So, which is the real California Teachers Association?
Is it a professional organization dedicated to better education for our children? Or is it a highly politicized, tax-evading labor union labor union: see union, labor. bitterly opposed to the most basic education reforms? The actions of the CTA seem almost calculated to convey to the public that it's the latter.