Why the Supreme Court’s labor union decision is a win for freedom and education


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UNION MANDATE STRUCK DOWN BY SUPREME COURT

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, one of the final decisions of the latest term of the Supreme Court came out about a week ago. It ruled that government workers cannot be compelled to contribute to labor unions. The 5-4 decision in Janus v. AFSCME scrapped a 41-year-old ruling that allowed states to require public employees to pay fees to unions, the so-called “fair share fees.”

World Magazine came out with an op-ed piece talking about the fact that this is a great boost for school choice advocates. Why? Well, former Florida governor, Jeb Bush, founder and president of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, puts it this way: the court’s decision provides parents, educators and reformers the opportunity to overcome two of the biggest obstacles to transforming education in America — the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers. Experts say this will have positive implications for those who are advocating school choice.

DR. REEDER: Tom, one of the most powerful instruments in politics are the contributions that come from unions in general. What this ruling dealt with are the unions that exist in the public sphere — that is, the sector of government and government employees. 

And the ruling then extends itself that they cannot coerce their members into joining and paying the fees. Well, if they have the fees, then they have the unbelievable cache of money that they can use to advance their agenda, which they sell as being an asset to the teachers and to those who are in the public-school system.

NEW RULES MAY MEAN NEW FREEDOM FOR TEACHERS AND PARENTS

And so now they’re told you can’t make teachers join and that means you can’t take their fees. Historically, every teacher had to pay whether you joined or not and, of course, the coffers then allowed them to have an outsized influence on the political process — particularly, by the way, the Democratic Party has captured the money from these unions. I am aware of literally dozens that do not want to be a part of such a union and for them to be in a position where they’re not punished and they do not have to participate, this ruling now opens the door for them to “declare their independence” from these controlling unions.

Tom, let me put it in a very positive way: I actually live in an area where there are a number of excellent public schools. And one of the reasons that there are a number of excellent public schools is that parents have gotten involved and the reason they’ve gotten involved is the public schools are serving — unlike yesterday’s program where we saw the public schools disenfranchising parents and their families and furthering the LGBTQ agenda in Virginia and in Pennsylvania — I’ve seen here a number of our districts actually attempt to work with the parents and respond to the parents.

We’ve had administrators and we’ve had teachers that are not only gifted but highly committed to their calling and properly supported by parents and, therefore, there are certain school systems that people really want to be a part of as well as charter schools that are advancing the cause of education in at least somewhat of a beneficial curriculum and outcome.

WHAT WILL THE RESULTS BE IN THE POLITICAL ARENA?

I think this ruling is going to have potentially significant outcome, not only because the cache of money that’s been available to buy influence and then the political parties that have made use of that to accomplish their ends and declare that, “Oh, well, all the people in the public-school system support us and the unions support us.” No, there is a small group of people who control the unions that support you. Actually, many of the teachers are not voting for those candidates.

And so that money is now going to be removed because these teachers are not going to have to join and they’re not going to have to give their dues. I think you’re going to see some significant movement in terms of teachers, administrators, the increase of school choice in some form or fashion, whether it’s vouchers or charter schools.

I think you’re going to see all of that, which only portends for a brighter future for the possibility of electing the kind of leadership you need for the public-school systems in the school commissions and the school councils. And then, also, that teachers are going to be able to vote with their feet, and vote with their heart and vote with their lives in terms of what they think needs to be done for the lives of the children. Now the sociologists that are in control of these unions with their cultural agenda are going to be disenfranchised. This is really interesting how this headline ties into what we looked at yesterday.

TRUMP ENDS OBAMA-ERA AFFIRMATIVE ACTION GUIDANCES

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, let me also bring up another story out of World Magazine. “The Trump administration will encourage schools not to consider race in admissions, a move that reverses Obama-era guidelines on affirmative action. The Justice Department just recently rescinded seven policy guidances from the Education Department’s Civil Rights Division and restored Bush-era policies of race-neutral admissions. This out of The New York Times.”

DR. REEDER: What’s really interesting, personally, I just want you to know, Tom, I have vacillated on this issue because there is little doubt in my mind that, in the Jim Crow era of the “separate but equal,” the notion that equal resources were available to everyone is just demonstrably and objectively proven wrong. Does there need to be some kind of catch-up on that? Yes.

DOES THIS LEAVE ROOM FOR BETTER CHANGE IN EQUALITY?

However, I have been persuaded — and, by the way, by some African-American brothers — that many of them sense that this actually contributes to a paternalistic racism that, unless we change these metrics, you can’t succeed. I know that that’s not true because we’re all made in the image of God and so I fully reject that.

I actually think that what you may see in this decision is perhaps an exceptional explosion of advancement of education across the board into every segment of our society because we all are being challenged that we all can respond to the curriculum and you can succeed. And, when you put the effort in and succeed, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from, you are going to be affirmed and rewarded according to your commitment to compete, according to your commitment to improve and according to your commitment to mature. And the places where it has already been applied, we’ve already seen that in those educational institutions.

And then, when people are looking at each other in the community, they aren’t looking at segments that have come through a different portal, but they are looking at one another who, as a group, have made this progress together under the same challenges. I think that will actually produce more unity in our country, which of course is something I love for and desire. And not just, of course, is something I long for and desire — it’s something I would call all of our listeners to promote as well — is that what we would develop in this country is an ideal of what it means to function with virtue and value, embrace what is good and beautiful and true and encourage one another through that process together as Americans who aren’t defined by any ethnicity or any race, but are defined by a certain set of virtues and values.

BRINGING GOD INTO THE CAUSE HELPS US BENEFIT SOCIETY AS A WHOLE

And I believe those are best supported and only rightly supported by God’s common grace and the influence of Christianity which promotes public policies and virtues and values whereby humanity flourishes, establishing the sanctity of life, the sanctity of sexuality, the sanctity of marriage, the sanctity of work and the sanctity of equality — not that we’re all interchangeable, but that we all stand on the same ground before God, and we all stand having been made in the image of God and we all stand with certain inalienable rights from God which are liberty, life and the pursuit of happiness.

It’s not the guarantee of a government check for the government’s definition of happiness in the arenas of life, but the government protecting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and then, everyone on the same level playing field, moves toward that pursuit of happiness with the values and virtues that permeate the culture and God-ordained institutions that are foundational for life.

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin, editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News, who has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and whose work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

46 mins ago

Van Smith scores impressive victory in Alabama’s HD 42 primary, advances to November general

Autauga County Commissioner Van Smith is the presumed winner of the Republican special primary election in House District 42.

The primary to fill the vacancy left by the the death of State Rep. Jimmy Martin (R-Clanton) occurred on Tuesday in parts of Autauga and Chilton Counties.

According to the Alabama Republican Party, unofficial results of the primary were as follows:

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Van Smith – 2,237 (56.85%)
Jimmie Hardee – 686 (17.43%)
Allen Caton – 622 (15.81%)
Shannon Welch – 390 (9.91%)

While provisional ballots will be counted on August 27 and the certification of votes will occur on August 28, a statement from the ALGOP stated that Smith is seemingly the Republican nominee for HD 42, impressively avoiding a runoff in a very competitive race.

Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan said, “I offer my congratulations to Van Smith on his apparent victory in the Republican Special Primary Election for Alabama State House District 42.”

“While this district is considered a solid Republican area, we will not take anything for granted and plan to work hard to ensure we hold this seat,” she concluded.

Smith was endorsed by the Business Council of Alabama (BCA), Alabama Farmers Federation and Alabama Forestry Association in the primary.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

15 hours ago

Birmingham’s new Sidewalk Film Center and Cinema is ready for its premiere

The new, permanent home of Birmingham’s Sidewalk Film Festival will open its doors this weekend, just in time for this year’s event.

Chloe Cook, executive director of the Sidewalk Film Festival, said the 11,500 square-foot facility is not complete, but is far enough along to be used as a festival venue this weekend.

“After the festival we will go dark for a week,” Cook said. “Then we will have a soft opening Labor Day weekend before our grand opening September 13-15. We’re very excited.”

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Sidewalk Film Center and Cinema a dream come true from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

The cinema, located in the basement of the Pizitz building on 2nd Avenue North, features two 89-seat theaters and an education room for special events. Outside of the festival week, it will function very much like a typical movie theater, operating seven days a week on a year-round basis, screening the latest independent feature films on one of two screens.

“We’re excited to have something slightly larger than a jewel-box movie theater, but not a huge multiplex-type facility where we can carefully curate the programming for our community,” Cook said. “When I took the job in 2009 I did not imagine this would come to fruition. I really think a lot of redevelopment in the north side of downtown Birmingham has happened around our annual festival and it continued happening to the point that we felt like the timing was right to pursue this project and fill that cultural void.”

Cook said the $4.9 million facility would not have happened without the generous support of a variety of contributors.

“We have been so fortunate to receive generous support from our corporate community, including Alabama Power (Foundation)Regions BankBlue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama, as well as our foundation community,” Cook said. “We’ve seen support from the Hugh Kaul Foundation, The Stephens Foundation, The Daniel Foundation, but we’ve also seen a lot of individuals who are not people who could start a foundation but they can send in a check for $250 or $25. That’s been really rewarding.”

To learn more about the Sidewalk Film Center and Cinema, visit MakeMovieMagic.com. To learn more about the Sidewalk Film Festival, visit SidewalkFest.com.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

SchoolFest sets the stage for Alabama children

The following is the latest installment of the Alabama Power Foundation’s annual report, highlighting the people and groups spreading good across Alabama with the foundation’s support.

 

Plato said art imitates life. Oscar Wilde said it was the other way around. It’s an argument that continues. However, one art form brings us face to face with the connection between art and life, perhaps better than any other: theater. It’s here people act out stories, hoping their audience forgets for a moment that it’s all make-believe. Were it not for the SchoolFest program of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival (ASF), many Alabama children might never be exposed to the magic of theater.

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Every year, 40,000 students attend SchoolFest in Montgomery. From the professional actors to the costume and set design, the productions are the same as those presented to other ASF audiences. Thanks to grants from the Alabama Power Foundation and others, ticket prices are discounted and many schools attend for free, exposing students from all walks of life to art.

For some, it’s an experience they’ll never forget. For others, like Emily Prim, it’s life-changing. Prim is assistant wardrobe supervisor at ASF. She remembers distinctly when the “theater bug” bit her. “I was in seventh grade at St. James School in Montgomery. We had a field trip to SchoolFest, where we saw ‘James and the Giant Peach.’ I remember it so well, because there was a Ferris wheel on stage that was the peach, and I thought that was so cool. I was sorta thinking about theater, because of shows we had done in school and stuff, but when I came to see ‘James’ here, it made me start thinking that this is something I could do after I graduate,” Prim said.

Prim’s experience is what ASF is all about. Executive Director Todd Schmidt put it this way: “It’s really a bedrock of our mission at ASF, which is to create communities through transformative theatrical experiences. It’s a lot of kids’ first introduction to theater. It’s important to do that, especially in this time of continued cuts in arts funding.”

Shakespeare Festival’s SchoolFest puts the arts at center stage for Alabama students from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Just in the past year, students have seen productions of “The Sound of Music,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Our Town,” “Steel Magnolias” and “Four Little Girls: Birmingham 1963.” The latter featured 24 students from Montgomery Public Schools in the cast. Schmidt chooses shows that are appropriate for audiences of all ages. SchoolFest builds many of these productions around school curricula.

“We put our programming out to schools, and then they select what they think is relevant to what they’re doing and what they want their kids to be exposed to,” Schmidt said.

What started decades ago as productions appropriate for students has continued to expand. In addition to SchoolFest, ASF offers educational programs. There are theater classes for adults and children, and summer theater camps for students. ASF has hosted a series of conversations that are tied – at least in part – to the shows. U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell spoke alongside a cast member from “Four Little Girls: Birmingham 1963.”

“These are not about our productions, but they focus on themes of the productions,” Schmidt said. “There’s one coming up that talks about women dealing with glass ceilings, working in fields normally dominated by men, which ties somewhat into the production of ‘Steel Magnolias’ and a new production, ‘Into the Breeches.’”

Lonny Harrison, director of theater at St. James School in Montgomery, has been bringing students to see productions at ASF for 21 years. “We have some students who, up to the point they’ve hit SchoolFest, have never seen a live production outside of a school play. This definitely helps get them more into the arts.

It seems like kids respond differently to every show, but whether it’s something that’s the most amazing thing to them, or something that makes them think more critically, it at least makes them think about it. When we left ‘Romeo and Juliet’ the other day, kids were saying, ‘Let’s do some Shakespeare!’ I had to tell them, ‘Small steps.’”

Harrison has a long history with SchoolFest. He saw stage productions at ASF when he was in school. His experience echoes that of many Alabamians. Were you to poll the state, you’d likely be amazed at the number of people of all ages who’ve shared the marvel of live performance in a theater at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival.

In Alabama, it’s a generational thing. When it comes to the art imitating life vs. life imitating art question, perhaps Shakespeare got it right when, in the second act of “As You Like It,” the character Jaques said, “All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts.”

The parts being played by the men and women of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival are a rich and vital service to the people of our state. These are the people who transform our children, who show them a new and lively way to understand stories, and life – its comedies and tragedies. These are the “players” who expand the minds of our young people, and show them a world that lives within their own ability to imagine.

For more information on the Alabama Power Foundation and its annual report, visit here.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

19 hours ago

Aderholt’s advice for Alabama’s 2020 U.S. Senate candidates: ‘Make it very clear that they’re supportive of the president’

Although it is still the early going of the 2020 U.S. Senate Republican primary election campaign, U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) has some advice for the handful of candidates seeking the GOP nod.

When asked what he saw as important to him and his constituents in Alabama’s fourth congressional district, he said it was support for President Donald Trump.

In the 2016 presidential election, Trump dominated Aderholt’s district by winning more than 80% of the vote and was the only district in the country to break the 80% threshold.

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“They’ve clearly got to make sure that they make it very clear that they’re supportive of the president,” Aderholt said. “I mean, this president has as much support of any since I have been in office. I have never seen a president that has the support this president has. He has, everywhere I go, people are very optimistic that they are very positive about what he is doing. And they’re optimistic about the future. So I would first of all — they need to let their constituents, future constituents that are voters, know that they’re someone who would stand with the president.”

“As someone who is in another branch of government, we always want to make sure we don’t do just exactly like the executive or the president wants to do regardless of who it is,” he continued. “The Founding Fathers wanted the different branches to be a watchdog on each other. But, as I have seen from this president, the things that he is doing is consistent with what the voters want and what has been good for America. I’m fully supportive of this president. I think they need to communicate they’re supporting the president. I think that is probably the biggest thing right now. Alabama is a very pro-life state, and I think they need to communicate that, which again is consistent with the president’s message.”

Aderholt also suggested the Senate candidates should be supportive of Trump’s efforts to renegotiate NAFTA.

“I am also getting the feedback that the Mexican-Canadian trade agreement that the president is trying to negotiate — to redo NAFTA, people are very supportive of that,” Aderholt added. “But again, the president has been very supportive of these issues. What the president is doing, I’m very supportive of. I don’t see any issue as far as supporting what the president’s issue is.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

19 hours ago

Georgia-based Colonial sues contractor over Alabama spill

Georgia-based Colonial Pipeline Co. has sued an Alabama contractor over a spill that threatened gasoline supplies along the East Coast three years ago.

The pipeline operator contends faulty work by the Birmingham-based Ceco Pipeline Services caused a crack that spilled at least 250,000 gallons of gasoline in rural Shelby County in September 2016.

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The spill shut down a major pipeline for weeks, tightening gasoline supplies along the Eastern Seaboard.

The pipeline carries fuel from Houston to metropolitan New York.

With headquarters near Atlanta in Alpharetta, Colonial Pipeline filed the federal lawsuit Friday seeking an unspecified amount of money.

Ceco Pipeline Services has not filed a response in court, and general manager Luke Hotze declined comment Monday, citing the lawsuit.

Hired to replace coatings that protect the pipeline’s exterior, the contractor failed to adequately replace dirt around the pipeline after maintenance work, the suit said.

The failure left a void beneath the pipe, which bent as it sagged.

The bend caused cracks that led to the breach, according to the suit.

The failure cost Colonial Pipeline lost income, plus money spent on repairs and cleanup, the lawsuit said without specifying an amount.

The lawsuit said Colonial Pipeline transports an average of 100 million gallons (378 million liters) of refined petroleum products daily through a system that includes more than 5,500 miles (8,850 kilometers) of pipeline.
(Associated Press, copyright 2019)

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