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Teachers union dues case vies for Supreme Court

For somebody who says she is pro-union, public school assistant principal Bhavini Bhakta certainly has her union worried.

She is one of the plaintiffs in Bain v. California Teachers Association, a lawsuit that could end the ability of public-sector unions to force workers like her to support its political activities. It is one of three cases vying for the Supreme Court’s attention that could be a serious blow to public-sector unions.

“I would like to see CTA reformed so that it actually represents us. I do believe in labor unions,” Bhakta, a registered Democrat, told the Washington Examiner. “I just don’t believe that what we have now works at all.”

Under California law, unions can charge teachers for expenses related to collective bargaining as well as the unions’ political activities, regardless of whether the teachers support that political spending. Bain v. CTA argues that the political fees are unconstitutional under the First Amendment and dissenting teachers such as Bhakta shouldn’t have to pay for them. Private-sector union workers already have the right to opt out of those fees under the Supreme Court’s 1988 Beck decision.

Bhakti, an assistant principal at Arcadia Unified School District in Arcadia, Calif., and her co-plaintiffs, teachers April Bain and Clare Sobetski, are being represented with help from StudentsFirst, the nonprofit group founded by education reformer Michelle Rhee.

Should Bhakta and her co-plaintiffs prevail, it could be a severe financial blow to the unions, which depend on the funding to their political spending. The Supreme Court already has taken a skeptical view of these fees. In 2012’s Knox v. SEIU, it said the union could not make members pay a one-time special assessment for political spending without giving them the opportunity to opt out first.

Bain v. CTA is before the West Coast’s 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, one of the more liberal appeals courts. “We are just waiting

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Personalized Learning Gains a Big Endorsement

PERSONALIZED LEARNING GAINS…  a big endorsement from a newly released RAND report which finds that students who engage in PL do better in math than their peers and gives an added boost to kids who are behind their classmates and trying to catch up.  The report also found that schools in the study “were pursuing a wide variety of practices to focus on the learning needs of each individual student in a supportive and flexible way;” and that “students experienced positive achievement effects and closed gaps relative to national norms.”  Oh, and it also found that the “implementation and effects both seemed stronger in the charter schools than in the district schools.” Want to learn more about PL?  Start here.

Why A Charter School Should Not Be the Obamas' Choice

This country is great. We’ve just elected the first African-American president, who has brought tremendous pride to many communities, but especially to African-Americans. I’ve seen it myself across the color and political spectrums.

It reminds us that you can have anything you want in America – unless you’re poor, that is.

Nowhere is this more clear than when it comes to schooling your child. Much has been written about where the Obamas might send their babies to school. As they are looking at private schools, their new hometown paper, The Washington Post, is reminding them that there are other people who want such a choice, but the President-elect doesn’t support the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program that allows such a choice with taxpayer dollars.

There are others who want him to go to a charter school. One of his biggest fans, Democrats for Education Reform, a group which really believes he will carry their agenda, is pleading for him to choose a charter school in D.C., one of the 62 or so high quality schools currently serving almost 30 percent of the D.C. public school population.

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