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Pennsylvania Teachers’ Unions Are Losing Their Cool — And Their Power

Author’s note: For your viewing pleasure, a link to FOX 29’s fiery “non-debate” on school strikes follows this column. Is it any wonder why the PSEA won’t talk about the merits of strikes, and instead engages in personal, factually incorrect attacks (in Latin, no less!) on extraneous issues? P.S.: I am sending PSEA the bill for my blown-out eardrums.

To modify the legendary quote from Dean Wormer in Animal House: Arrogant, greedy and aloof is no way to go through life.

But that’s exactly how the teachers’ unions in Pennsylvania have behaved for decades.

With millions in forced union dues, they have constructed a statewide political empire, using their muscle to crush any and all opposition.

To their credit, they have been immensely successful in squeezing every last penny from broke municipalities and overtaxed residents.  In good economies and bad, they demand and receive large raises and benefits, including, in many cases, free healthcare. 

In Bucks County’s Neshaminy School District, for example, the unions have steadfastly refused to renegotiate their healthcare plan.  Can you blame them?  They don’t pay one cent toward their Rolls Royce plan, which costs $27,000 per teacher, per year.  Meanwhile, those in the private sector are shelling out 30 or 40 percent of their healthcare costs, with many shouldering the entire burden.  And when Neshaminy teachers retire, they are guaranteed healthcare until age 65.  And as an added retirement “incentive”, they are handed almost $30,000 just to walk out the door.

Amazingly, Neshaminy isn’t the exception.  Unfortunately, such excess is commonplace throughout the state.

To make the sin mortal, Pennsylvania leads the nation every year in school strikes.  In fact, the Keystone State experiences more teacher strikes than all other states combined.

And that is the reason so many citizens are scratching their heads. Teachers are universally respected for the priceless role they play, but when they strike, especially in a recession where the private sector continues to hemorrhage jobs, it is seen as a slap in the face.

While Pennsylvania teachers are first in school strikes and top five in salaries and benefits, the same cannot be said of student achievement — as evidenced by their  42nd –ranked SAT scores.

And you can’t just blame city schools for bringing the numbers down.  In suburban Neshaminy, 33 percent of 11th graders aren’t proficient in reading, and 28% can’t perform basic math.

To the unions, money is the cure all. Pay more money (and better benefits) to the teachers while increasing funding for public education, and all the problems will be solved. But we’ve been doing that for decades, and education achievement hasn’t improved.

Given that the global economy is here to stay, our dismal academic performance becomes more dire every year.  Our students are no longer competing against just those in San Francisco and Seattle, but Stockholm, Singapore and Sydney. Yet compared to our top 30 global counterparts, the U.S. is, at best, in the middle of the pack and more often, much lower.

The solution is to instill accountability to our schools and rein in the out-of-control unions.  And with a new Governor and state legislature poised to tackle the tough issues, the political will to enact meaningful changes is not just possible, but probable.  Here are two immediate steps that would help bring vast improvement to Pennsylvania’s educational system:

Inject competition by enacting school choice.  When….

Read the rest and post a comment on Philadelphia Magazine’s Philly Post:

http://blogs.phillymag.com/the_philly_post/2010/12/08/pennsylvania-teachers%e2%80%99-unions-are-losing-their-cool/

Fiery Non-Debate on FOX 29:

http://www.myfoxphilly.com/dpp/news/local_news/heated-debate%3A–teachers-striking-in-pa

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com

Readers of his column, “Freindly Fire,” hail from six continents, thirty countries and all fifty states. His work has been referenced in numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, foreign newspapers, and in Dick Morris’ recent bestseller “Catastrophe.”

Freind, whose column appears nationally in Newsmax, also serves as a guest commentator on Philadelphia-area talk radio shows, and makes numerous other television and radio appearances, most notably on FOX.  He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

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December 8, 2010 at 11:09 am Comments (0)

Bucks Co Fortune Telling Shooting

Awesome story, but really bad for your business model.

Rivalry between competing fortune-telling businesses appears to be at the center of an armed home invasion in Horsham that involved death threats and a psychic victim, according to court papers released Wednesday.

Now, a father and son from Lower Bucks County face criminal charges in connection with the Friday night incident at the residence that doubles as a fortune-telling business at the corner of Meetinghouse Road and County Line Road.

A quote…

” ‘Listen to me little girl. I told you and your sons not to pass literature on Street Road. Street Road is mine,’ ” Mitchell said, according to a criminal complaint.

Shouldn’t Mr Mitchell have known the other guy was going to pass out literature? An actual fortune teller would have just shot him, straight up. Pre-emption and all.

” ‘If I ever see your sons and husband, I’ll kill them,’ ” Mitchell said, according to court papers.

If?

If?!

A real psychic would have said, “when.”

But then again, Psycho Readings is not really a good name for a business.

November 11, 2010 at 5:28 pm Comments (0)

Pa-8: Turnabout Is Fair Play

Heh.

Patrick Murphy is responsible for outsourcing jobs.

How else to explain the Democrat congressman’s actions on Saturday (Oct30) when he arrived at his Levittown press conference in a new blue Subaru, a car that is manufactured by the very same Japanese car company responsible for eliminating thousands of union jobs the past two decades.

Subaru has repeatedly rejected going union.

But Murphy could apparently care less.

“Look at that. He’s driving a foreign car,” one Levittown protester said when Murphy arrived at a press conference. “Wonder what his union buddies will say about that,” the protester added.

November 1, 2010 at 9:41 am Comments (0)

Murphy fires up the yooon-yun base in Bucks County

If you are going to speak to the unions, you must speak “union-ese.” Or so goes Patrick Murphy.

The following Roll Call video was posted by Robert Costa on the Corner.

Warning: Strong language begins at about the 2:00 min mark. Not safe for work or kids.

And the crowd comes alive when Murphy drops the *s*-bomb! I’m sure that before Murphy came to rally the dozen or so faithful union members who showed up at this event, he took a quick video tutorial like the one below demonstrating how to connect with your Union base when you look like that sleazy banker-type that Tony Goldwyn played in “Ghost.”

Video below the fold really not safe for work or kids.
(more…)

October 14, 2010 at 8:04 pm Comment (1)

Patrick Murphy’s Top Aide: I’d rather be in Chicago

So just how bad are things for Patrick Murphy in PA-8? Submitted for your consideration, Murphy’s top aide couldn’t (or wouldn’t) even wait until after the election to jump ship. NRO’s Battle ’10:

If you were waiting for a sign that Mike Fitzpatrick is drawing blood from Democrat Pat Murphy, you’ve got it. Incumbent Murphy’s chief of staff Scott Fairchild, who guided Murphy to a razor-thin election victory in 2006 and has served as his chief of staff since 2007, is heading to Chicago to serve as Rahm Emanuel’s campaign manager.

Murphy is locked in a tight contest with Fitzpatrick for the southeastern 8th district seat. According to the latest Franklin & Marshall poll, released on Sept. 23, Fitzpatrick led 49 percent to Murphy’s 35 percent among likely voters, and an enormous 47 percent of registered adults said it was “time for a change.”

At first glance it would appear that abandoning Murphy for Rahm is indeed moving on to greener pastures. However, Hillbuzz did a little on the street reconaissance and reports that Rahmbo is not quite the shoo-in he might think he is:

It’s exactly as we thought: walking the neighborhood, stopping people on the street, and popping in to chat with some local politically-connected Southsiders, everyone is saying the same thing, and it’s: “F*** Rahm Emanuel. F*** him good”.

There is no love for this man with blacks — nor should there be. Emanuel seems to think the Obama love the black community has would rub off on him, but it doesn’t. At all.

Blacks want a black Mayor…either Tim King (head of a very successful charter school) or Reverand James Meeks (who is very popular, but is a watered down version of Jeremiah Wright, at the end of the day). Carol Mosely Braun is running too, but she’s largely irrelevant. “Miss Fancy” is what she’s called by a lot of the people we talked to this morning.

Jews are not backing Rahm Emanuel either, because of his foul mouth.

How depraved and vile do you have to be for Chicagoans — of all people — to literally cringe at the sound of your name because you are considered too ill-mannered and caustic to be Mayor of this city?

The only way we can describe the reaction to Emanuel’s candidacy is it’s the same as if Andrew Dice Clay was in the running. No one we know, or have ever spoken to, wants this man to win.

Then there’s the issue of his legal eligibility to run, which many lawyers say is impossible since he has not been a legal Chicago resident since 2009…and he had to be a resident of Chicago from February 22nd 2010 through February 22nd, 2011 to qualify to run for Mayor of Chicago.

People we talked to today in the black community are already beginning the prep work to file lawsuits and challenges against Emanuel’s candidacy.

Republicans need to get on the ball and get the very best law firms in Chicagoland to file challenges as well — do not sit back and let Democrats do this on their own, because for the right bribes Dems will always drop their suits and let Emanuel have a clear path.

So how bad are things at the Murphy camp that Fairchild would leave there for a potentially DOA mayoral campaign halfway across the country? Consider this footage recently shot in Bucks County:

October 5, 2010 at 9:37 pm Comments (0)

Earth To Neshaminy Teachers’ Union: Have We Met?

In their heyday, unions represented 36% of the American workforce.  

How things have changed.

Now, that number stands at only 12 percent, and when you factor out the public-sector unions, the number plummets to a paltry 7 percent.

While unions were formed for good reasons —to combat deplorable working conditions and slave labor wages — shortsighted union leaders have made a habit of biting the hand that feeds them.  Ironically, the biggest casualty to organized labor’s greed are the rank-and-file members, as evidenced by the numbers above.

It is precisely for this reason that union leaders are the driving force behind card check legislation, which would eliminate the secret ballot in union elections.  While admitting to themselves that this is an inherently un-American tactic, labor leaders see card check as the only viable way to preserve the union movement.

Funny, but something else much more simplistic comes to mind that would achieve the same objective — without violating a member’s right to secretly cast a vote.

Common sense.

But for that, there is one prerequisite: you have to live in this world.

Not upper Uranus.

So for a classic case study of how space cadets operate, let’s take a look at the ongoing legalized extortion occurring in the Neshaminy School District.

The teachers union in that Bucks County district has been at odds with the school board for months.  Why?

Because they want a “fair” contract.

Pretty much everyone else on this planet calls it greed.  Unadulterated greed.

What are they asking from the taxpayers?  Salary increases, retroactive to 2008, of 2.75 percent in each of the first two years, 3 percent in the third and fourth years, and 3.5 percent in the final year. 

So a teacher making $100,000 a year now will be taking home a guaranteed $116,000 salary for nine months’ work in 2013.  What a deal! 

And there are quite a few teachers at or near that level: 64 make over $100,000, and over half make over $90,000, not including health care benefits.

But hey, times are tough, so the union leadership has another demand, one from which it won’t budge: continued free health care.

That’s right.  Neshaminy teachers do not pay a single penny towards their health care premiums.

Nothing.  Nada.  Zip.

How’s that for living in the real world?

Instead, the forgotten taxpayer foots the bill for their high-end plan, to the tune of around $27,000 per teacher, per year.

And it doesn’t stop there. 

The taxpayers’ largesse also extends to Neshaminy’s retired teachers, many with lucrative pensions (some over $100,000 per year) who also enjoy free healthcare.

But in the private sector —that forgotten place which employs the people who pay for all the teachers’ salaries and benefits — pay raises in today’s economy are the exception, and employees typically shoulder at least 30 percent of their healthcare costs.

Not content with the negotiations, however, the teachers showed their “class” by repeatedly boycotting Back to School Nights.  In addition, their classrooms aren’t decorated, bulletin boards remain vacant, recommendation letters are on hold — and reports have stated that the contract dispute has been discussed in the classrooms, which is the very last place it belongs.

But hey, the union’s demands have nothing to do with greed, we are nauseatingly told. No, no…. it’s all about the children!

Sure it is.

And pigs can fly. 

*****

Speaking of the airborne Neshaminy union leaders, let’s discuss the real issue. You know, the one that everyone —parents, teachers and union officials — pretend isn’t there.

Our educational product is failing.

All across Pennsylvania, and yes, in Neshaminy, too.

The beauty of math is that numbers don’t lie.  And Neshaminy’s numbers are dismal.

Only 67 percent of the district’s 11th graders are proficient in Reading.  In Math, it’s 72 percent.

So let’s tell it like it is: one-third of Neshaminy’s students can’t read proficiently and almost the same number can’t add or subtract.

And the real number is even higher, since students who have already dropped out of school — a significant number — aren’t counted. 

Yet the taxpayers are pumping out $17,000 per student, per year. And the results?

Pure mediocrity. 

Getting a 67 on a test is an F.  In the real world, being content with a 67% success rate is unacceptable.

*****

Several weeks ago, Governor Rendell celebrated the news that 82 percent of our schools met basic benchmark levels.

And that’s reason to celebrate? …..

Read the rest and post a comment on Philly Mag’s Philly Post:

http://blogs.phillymag.com/the_philly_post/2010/09/28/earth-to-neshaminy-teachers-union-have-we-met/

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com

Readers of his column, “Freindly Fire,” hail from six continents, thirty countries and all fifty states. His work has been referenced in numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, foreign newspapers, and in Dick Morris’ recent bestseller “Catastrophe.”

Freind also serves as a weekly guest commentator on the Philadelphia-area talk radio show, Political Talk (WCHE 1520), and makes numerous other television and radio appearances, most notably on FOX 29.  He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

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September 30, 2010 at 8:40 am Comments (0)

Patrick Murphy Afraid of the Label?

Hmm.

The http://patrickmurphyforcongress.com/index.asp website doesn’t use the word “Democrat” on it. Murphy even refers to being a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, (the group formerly known as the Blue Dog Democrats.)

Forgetful or embarrassed?

Side note, I saw a billboard a couple of times around Wildwood NJ this past week. It was two names (who I naturally forgot) next to the GOP elephant. Bigger than life. No idea what office even, but two guys, proud to identify as Republicans.

August 21, 2010 at 7:03 pm Comments (0)

Bucks County Republicans Are Imploding

Bucks County Republicans Are Imploding

Mirriam-Webster dictionary defines “grow” as “to spring up and develop to maturity” and “to increase in size…to expand.”

Unfortunately for the Bucks County Republican machine, the idea of growth seems to be an alien concept.

For evidence of that, just look to the controversy that erupted within the GOP during the May 18 primary election.

*****

Ten grassroots activists looking to rebuild a wayward GOP decided to run for State Committee, the body charged with vetting and endorsing statewide candidates.

The unendorsed slate had little resources, so running against the might of the Bucks Establishment made their prospects of dim, at best.

Nevertheless, they pressed on, making no secret of their disagreements with the Republican leadership, whom they viewed as more interested in patronage and insider deals, rather than articulating Republican issues.

The Establishment, worried that any “insurgent” winner could weaken their political structure, responded by pulling out all stops.

There’s nothing wrong with both sides having a healthy debate, but the rules of fair play should prevail.  And in this case, it seems that they did not.

*****

In the early morning hours of Election Day, a court hearing was held to determine if a piece of campaign literature touting the challengers was legal. At issue was whether the disclaimer on the sample ballot was appropriate.

The ruling favored the plaintiffs, who happened to be three endorsed State committee candidates, with a court order prohibiting the distribution of the literature in question.

Over the next several hours, reports poured in that the unendorsed candidates and their supporters were bullied and intimidated, with some threatened that they’d be “hauled off to jail in handcuffs” if they failed to comply.

Unless scores of grassroots activists — many of whom are new to the political process — are outright lying, the powerbrokers behind the Bucks Machine made it abundantly clear that, since they were in charge, they could do anything they pleased. 

And their response was akin to shooting a gnat with an atomic cannon.

*****

The judge’s ruling may, or may not, have been the correct one. 

In lieu of delving into legal minutiae, suffice it to say that there is enough ambiguity in the law to conclude that this wasn’t an open and shut case.

Whether the disclaimer was worded correctly and whether the Election Code even applies to State Committee candidates remains an open question, since the Department of State does not require campaign filings for those offices.

The answer will only come after that issue is adjudicated.

But that’s hardly the point.

A closer look at the situation reveals some very troubling events and raises questions about the judgment of the Bucks County GOP hierarchy.

Consider:

1) A source told Freindly Fire that the sample ballot was given directly to the Vice Chairwoman of the Bucks GOP, Pat Poprik— a State Committee candidate herself—several weeks prior to the election.

And here’s where things get interesting.

Poprik has been quoted as saying, “”I hope they (the unendorsed candidates) come on board and work with us…I welcome them with open arms as wide as I can spread them.”

But under scrutiny, Ms. Poprik’s genteel attitude seems to disappear.

If she knew a problem existed with the ballot but didn’t alert the activists — some of whom were first informed of the court order by constables — then the rift seems irreparable, with the gulf between both sides larger than the Grand Canyon.

It fails the sniff test to believe that the three plaintiffs, all of whom are closely affiliated with Poprik, would file the suit by themselves without the vice chairwoman’s knowledge.   

But to be fair, one of two possibilities exist:

Read the rest at Philadelphia Magazine’s Philly Post:

http://blogs.phillymag.com/the_philly_post/2010/06/08/bucks-countys-republican-trouble/

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June 8, 2010 at 11:12 am Comments (0)

Neshaminy SD: Kids Walking Out to Be Fined

Nice.

Students at the Maple Point Middle School in Langhorne, Pa., left their school around 8 a.m. to protest a work-to-contract action by teachers. Groups of students at the school ran away from the buidling into a nearby woods.

Some of the young students “mooned” a Fox 29 video jourrnalist who tried to photograph them.

Then police had to go into the woods to round up the students, because teachers would not act to bring the kids back to class.

Union troubles continue to plague the Neshaminy School District. Teachers there received a letter earlier this week urging them to do the bare minimum wok at school. At issue is a contract that expired almost two years ago.

Parents of the students will be fined $500.

The dirty hippy in me thinks it’s good to see students protest. Especially if it’s anti-union.

[An 18 year old senior] said of the teachers, “They’re just not doing all the extra things to help out and do stuff. They’re just sticking completely to their contract.”

Of the protest, she said, “Yeah, they’re going to be all in the hallway. So I’m getting kind of mad and stressed, so I’m leaving. I’m 18 and I live on my own, so I signed myself out.”

Teachers weren’t able to carry out their Wednesday morning weekly protest, either.

Students say the teachers call it a “solidarity circle” around the flagpole before homeroom. It likely wasn’t carried out because news cameras were on hand and the superintendent was ordering everybody inside.

“I guess they knew you guys were coming, so they sat in their cars instead of standing outside. I guess they didn’t want to look bad,” said district bus driver Chuck Torpey.

He added, “Everybody I know is very upset at them, especially standing out there. Even students are upset at them. I’m a bus driver. I want to work for the district. I want to work. I’m willing to sacrifice to keep my job, and I think the teachers should sacrifice a little bit, too.”

So much for teaching for the love of it.

May 27, 2010 at 11:55 am Comments (2)

Doylestown: Not Cawley Country

In my inbox this morning, these were hanging all over Doylestown this morning, in particular, the Republican and Democrat headquarters:

May 12, 2010 at 7:25 am Comments (0)

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