Grassroot Perspective – July 3, 2003-Estimated 30,000 Teachers Get Layoff Notices in California; Vote Turnout Not an Internal NEA Priority; Targeting the Problem; New Book Series Encourages Critical Thinking in Youth

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“Dick Rowland Image”

”Shoots (News, Views and Quotes)”


– Estimated 30,000 Teachers Get Layoff Notices in California

On Feb. 12, The Oregonian reported on a two-day teacher’s job fair
being held in Portland. Representatives from California’s public school
districts were signing up recruits. “It is the promise of California, a
state with a glut of teaching jobs it must fill,” wrote reporter Jim

A month later, the Los Angeles Times reports that as many as 30,000
California public school teachers are receiving layoff notices — enough
to staff the entire state of Oregon with teachers. This is only the
cherry on top of the giant hot fudge sundae of nonsense going on in the
Golden State.

Because of seniority rules, the teachers who will ultimately be laid
off are those the state and local districts just spent millions of
dollars to recruit and train. And the reaction from the California
Teachers Association (CTA) promises more wasted money. The union
notified members who received layoff notices that they “are entitled to
a hearing before an administrative law judge where the district must
prove it had legal grounds for the layoff.”

School boards and administrators are also looking to alter the state’s
class-size reduction program. A proposed bill would allow them to still
receive state funding for the program if the school averages 20
students per K-3 class, rather than the current requirement of no more
than 20 students in each and every K-3 class. One consulting service
estimates this legislation would save $200 million statewide annually.
CTA President Wayne Johnson called the bill “a slippery slope to
oblivion,” although the California Federation of Teachers supports the
bill. “In budget times like this. we believe you ought to give
districts as much leeway as possible,” said CFT spokesman Mike Weimer.

At the same time CTA is opposing flexibility for districts on class
size, it is putting its full weight behind a bill that would allow
districts flexibility in deciding whether to implement the state’s high
school exit examination. Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, who is carrying
CTA’s bill, said “I think in (budget-cutting) times like these, you
need to leave more and more flexibility to local districts.”

CTA officials aren’t the only ones whistling the theme from “Lost in
Space.” Last week, the California Assembly spent 45 minutes debating a
bill with a provision to refer to lousy schools as “high priority”
rather than “low-performing.” It passed, 51-22. This move came years
too late for manufacturers of the Yugo, who could have launched an ad
campaign calling their car “Your High Priority Automobile.”

– Vote Turnout Not an Internal NEA Priority

One of the things that make teachers’ unions such a political
powerhouse is their ability to identify voters and get them to the
polls. Their methods for doing so are legendary — which makes their
failure to turn out voters for internal union elections all the more

The Education Support Employees Association of Clark County, Nevada, in
the midst of a representation battle with Teamsters Local 14, claims
about 5,000 members. Yet its elections produced a total of no more than
227 votes. Similarly, NEA New Mexico (about 6,700 active members)
generated no more than 273 votes in its recent statewide elections.
That’s a 4.1 percent turnout. EIA estimates that if you added up all of
NEA New Mexico’s statewide officers, state reps, local officers and
site reps, the number would almost certainly exceed 273. This suggests
that even union activists aren’t voting.

Are these two examples representative or anomalous? Who can say? Most
teacher union affiliates do not elect state leaders by rank-and-file
vote, and most do not release turnout figures for local elections.

Above articles are quoted from The Education Intelligence Agency, EIA
Communique 3/17/03

– Targeting the Problem

The former director of the Congressional Budget Office, Dan Crippen,
advised the Senate Aging Committee in testimony on Monday to understand
a problem before spending hundreds of billions of dollars to fix it.

What a novel idea!

The man who produced cost estimates for Congress for four years has
suggested to Congress that it might be wise to start by counting who
most needs help with health insurance and prescription drugs before
enacting hugely expensive new programs.

For example, Crippen said that less than half of the 41 million
uninsured are without coverage for 12 months or more. The other 20
million are between jobs, between spousal coverage, and between public
programs. The average period without health insurance is seven months,
and 40% are uninsured for fewer than four months.

We’ve said for years that many people are uninsured precisely because
we so closely tie health insurance to the workplace in this country,
forcing people to lose their health insurance when they change or lose
their jobs and discriminating with subsidies against those who don’t
have the option of job-based coverage.

The solution is not to decide that everyone needs to have the
“stability” of government-sponsored health insurance – heaven forbid –
but to fix the system that kicks people off the insurance rolls so

“Until the nature of the problem is clear, the solutions we devise may
be ineffective and unnecessarily costly,” Crippen says. This could
suggest targeting new programs to people who are chronically uninsured
and have low incomes.

Crippen makes a similar point in talking about a Medicare drug benefit,
saying it’s important for legislators to recognize that three-fourths
of seniors already have coverage. If the government has limited money
to spend, even the Washington Post recommends a targeted, low-income

None of this is to say that health insurance and drug coverage aren’t
important for those who lack it. Only that Congress should take a
careful look at how it plans to spend taxpayer money to make sure we
get the results we expect.

Above article is quoted from The Galen Institute, Health Policy Matters
March 14, 2003

”Roots (Food for Thought)”

– New Book Series Encourages Critical Thinking in Youth

Author: review by Jay Lehr

Published: The Heartland Institute 05/01/2003

Critical Thinking About Environmental Issues
by the Center for Free Market Environmentalism (PERC) and Competitive
Enterprise Institute Greenhaven Press, 2002, cloth

Two free-market policy groups have collaborated to launch a new series
of books for young people, under the title Critical Thinking about
Environmental Issues.

Unlike many environmental books found in schools today, the first three
works in the Critical Thinking series — focusing on global warming,
endangered species, and pesticides — offer objective and balanced
discussions in a very readable format. The series is published by
Greenhaven Press, which specializes in books for elementary and high
school students.

Emphasis on Facts, Not Rhetoric

Environmental education (EE) in the nation’s elementary and secondary
schools has all too often relied on publications from activist groups
whose primary goal is to brainwash children into believing humans are
abusing the planet. More often than not, EE publications make no effort
to achieve balanced debate and develop critical thinking skills in
America’s youth.

The Critical Thinking series — co-produced by the Center for Free Market
Environmentalism (PERC) and Competitive Enterprise Institute — has set
about to right this wrong in an unusually calm and undefiant manner.
Personally, I might have taken a more pointed approach in confronting
the lies and distortions presented by environmental zealots. But to
their credit, the Critical Thinking authors — Jane Shaw on global
warming, Randy Simmons on endangered species, and Samantha Beres on
pesticides — remained calm and relaxed in presenting all the evidence.

After nearly 50 years of service to the nation’s environment, I have
little patience with the misinformation spread about our excellent and
still-improving environment. Happily, Shaw, Simmons, and Beres took a
deep breath before sitting down to present in simple terminology all
sides of these important issues.

The books are not flawless. In an effort to be fair, they lean toward
political correctness, offering credence to pronouncements made by the
anti-technology lobbies even when those statements have little
scientific support. I presume the authors felt to do otherwise might
close the minds of their potential young readers (or their teachers).

Additional books in this series, expected in late 2003, will focus on
forest fires and energy.

Shaw on Global Warming

Jane Shaw’s brief treatise on global warming is excellent because it
gathers all the existing evidence for and against global warming and
evaluates it fairly. Her logical analysis leads the reader to recognize
that accommodating the Kyoto Protocol to reduce carbon dioxide
emissions would be tantamount to shooting ourselves in the collective
foot in order to clip our toenails.

Shaw traces the history of global warming concerns to pronouncements in
1988 by NASA’s Dr. James E. Hansen — who, Shaw notes, has since altered
his opinions. She traces our knowledge of carbon dioxide as a
greenhouse gas to nineteenth century Swedish scientist Svante
Arrhenius. She exposes the failings of reports issued by the United
Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) … and
quotes the wealth of real scientific evidence produced by senior
climate scientists Sally Baliunas, Willie Soon, Patrick Michaels,
Richard Lindzen, and Robert Balling, to name a few.

Any young person who reads Shaw’s wonderfully referenced 83-page work
will see global warming in a dramatically different light … and face
the future without fear.

Beres on Pesticides

Samantha Beres’ 71-page discussion of pesticides is a bit uneven in its
treatment of bad science. She is far too kind to Rachel Carson’s book
Silent Spring, which science has since proven to be loaded with
unsubstantiated claims.

To support her case for reintroducing the use of DDT, Beres notes the
number of malaria cases in Sri Lanka fell from 2.8 million in 1946
(pre-DDT) to just 17 in 1963 (before DDT’s ban). At the same time, she
appears unfamiliar with the work of J. Gordon Edwards and other
researchers who proved DDT use did not lead to eggshell thinning or
declining raptor populations.

Beres does correctly point out that the Audubon Society’s Christmas
Bird Counts indicated 26 different species of birds increased in
numbers from 1941 to 1960, when DDT use was most prevalent. She
explains that no serious evidence has ever linked DDT to cancer, and
she accurately describes the famous Doll-Peto study indicating
environmental factors generally have little to do with human cancer.
She effectively describes the failure of rodent bio-assays to evaluate
cancer in humans.

On the other hand, she lends too much credence to the technically
terrible book, Our Stolen Future.

Beres concludes her book with a somewhat uneven description of
genetically modified crops, probably erring on the side of alarmism
with poorly understood data on the death of butterfly larvae from
ingesting Bt corn pollen. Nevertheless, the book is worth its price for
the picture and description of Norman Borlaug in the mid-1940s, when
his development of new hybrid seeds laid the foundation for the green
revolution in India — for which he won a Nobel Prize in 1971. Dr.
Borlaug, now 90 years old, still works full time as a professor at
Texas A&M University.

All in all, Beres’ book is likely to be the best thing any high school
student ever reads about pesticides.

Simmons on Endangered Species

Randy Simmons had the most daunting job: explaining the endangered
species controversy to young people.

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) is a leading contender for the blue
ribbon among horrible federal regulations. It tops any “worst of show”
list for the way it has gutted personal freedom and laid waste to the
property rights envisioned by our founding fathers.

The ESA is also a biological bastardization of centuries of
understanding about what makes a true species. Today, if it serves the
purpose of environmental zealots, a new species can virtually be
declared based on color alone.

Simmons leads us very well to the conclusion that protection of many
species is a valid idea … and that the best way to do so may be
through incentive programs rather than command-and-control regulations.
He is very straightforward in criticizing Edward O. Wilson’s
unreasonable premise that man should attempt to save all species,
despite the huge turnover in species that took place long before
mankind’s presence on Earth.

Simmons does a marvelous job of documenting the positive aspects of
species protection where possible through eco-tourism and captive
breeding. He explains how Zimbabwe has successfully protected elephants
by allowing some of them to be hunted. He documents how hunting rights
controlled by villagers become a valuable asset, leading the villagers
to protect their herds.

Simmons also describes the failure of command-and-control species
protection efforts. He explains how restrictions placed on private
property in order to protect species result in the loss of property
values. He tells one of many similar stories about a woman who invested
in land for her retirement, only to see its value drop from a million
dollars to just $30,000 when her 15-acre parcel was deemed critical
habitat for the golden-cheeked warbler. Simmons explains how such
regulations give people a reason to discourage threatened species from
taking up residence on their properties — just the opposite of what
Congress intended the ESA to do.

Simmons describes the inevitability of species extinction, and man’s
impact on some of it, with greater clarity and accuracy than ever has
been done before. It is in fact virtually impossible to fault this
magnificent treatise in any way. Lucky will be the students exposed to
this clear-headed discussion of a major national dilemma.

Jay Lehr is science director for The Heartland Institute.

Above article is quoted from The Heartland Institute, Environment &
Climate News May 2003

”Evergreen (Today’s Quotes)”

“America would be a better place if leaders would do more long-term
thinking. In Iroquois society, leaders are encouraged to remember seven
generations in the past and consider seven generations in the future
when making decisions that affect the people.” — Wilma Mankiller, 53,
principal chief, Cherokee Nation

“Read the Declaration of Independence to your children as a tradition
every Fourth of July. Make sure they understand why the word “pursuit”
precedes the word ‘happiness.'” — Jeff Bezo, 35, founder,

“Just do it. All over America, there are people who are putting their
time and talents where their mouths are, and they are effecting real
change in our communities, our state legislatures, and the halls of
Congress — from the ground up.” — Adam Werbach, 26, host, The Thin
Green Line

”’Edited by Richard O. Rowland, president of Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, 1314 S. King Street, Suite 1163, Honolulu, HI 96814. Phone/fax is 808-591-9193, cell phone is 808-864-1776. Send him an email at:”’ ”’See the Web site at:”’