Union Motives Hurt Teachers

Jerry Coffee
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Wednesday - April 11, 2007
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I’m not sure anyone really gets the “last word” on anything anymore, but I would like to offer one more word (if not the “last”) on the recent “15 1/2-hour workday” supposedly averaged by our Hawaii public schoolteachers.

The March 1 banner, front page headline in the Advertiser conjured up images of frazzled, sallow-eyed, fingers-worked-to-the-bone public schoolteachers cramming personal commitments of marriage, parenthood, life maintenance, nourishment, recreation and sleep into the remaining eight-anda-half hours of the day.

That doesn’t leave much time for a normal life, especially for those who happen to require six to eight hours of sleep.

Appropriately, the newspaper’s editorial staff decided to revisit the article and its headline. “15 1/2 hours a day as an average for all teachers? It defies logic, and we should have been more critical in our thinking.” observed Mark Platte, vice president/editor of the paper.

Local news editor David Butts was the primary editor on the story: “I should have asked more questions about the methodology and the motives of those sponsoring the study.”

Both editors are right, but the operative thought there is “the motives of those sponsoring the study.”

As the story itself points out, “the study was mandated during labor negotiations ... to quantify the extra time teachers spend in the classroom.”

The study concluded teachers spend an average of 510 minutes per day over and above their seven-hour teaching day.

That’s what the study found, but to think that every teacher works 15 1/2-hour days is absurd. Apparently someone decided the “15 1/2-hour day” conclusion would make a more dramatic statement strengthening their bargaining position in near-term wage negotiations.

Whatever the “motives” of the study’s sponsors, our hard-enough working public schoolteachers took the brunt of the skepticism and ridicule.

Their union leadership did them no service with irresponsible exaggeration that the public saw right through.

three star

On April 3, the Supreme Court made a very significant ruling that, at least up through April 5, received stingy coverage by our Mainstream Media (MSM), probably because it represents a victory for the Bush administration in its war on terror.

The court refused to review a lower court’s decision that enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay have no legal right to challenge their detention in U.S. courts because they are not U.S. citizens and are not on U.S. soil. The decision also means the court will not rule further on the constitutionality of the anti-terrorism law passed by Congress last year.

This should put a definitive end to the distracting debate on the constitutionality of incarcerating our sworn foreign enemies at Gitmo for as long as they remain a threat. It should be recalled that more than 200 have already been returned to their own countries, so they are certainly not being held indiscriminately.

The first to be tried there by a military tribunal, David Hicks (Muhammad Dawood, his Taliban alias), is being returned to his country - Australia - to serve out his plea-bargained sentence of nine months. Hicks, an “immature outback cowboy” said he pleaded guilty because the prosecution had enough evidence to convict him. The relatively light sentence could be in deference to Australia’s steadfast support in the war on global terror.

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