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.

2 hours ago

Alabama Power Foundation marks 30 years of giving

It’s hard to imagine a time when the Alabama Power Foundation didn’t exist, especially for the dozens of organizations throughout the state that have advanced with its support.

For three decades, the foundation has looked for ways to elevate Alabama and boost communities through charitable giving, giving back more than $230 million to the communities that Alabama Power serves.

“Since our founding 30 years ago, we have prided ourselves in being a catalyst for change and for service to the state of Alabama,” said Myla Calhoun, Alabama Power Foundation president and vice president of Charitable Giving at Alabama Power.

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Alabama Power Foundation marks 30 years of giving from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Organizations that focus on education, the environment, health and human service, civic and community, arts and culture and other areas have benefited.

“We really enable our partner agencies to do what they do best,” Calhoun said. “So, when we talk about our success, really it’s their success that we’re proud of.”

Success like that the Literacy Council of Central Alabama has enjoyed.

“Ever since (our founding), Alabama Power Foundation has been a really strong supporter,” said Katrina Watson, president and executive director of the Literacy Council of Central Alabama. “We couldn’t be where we are without the Alabama Power Foundation’s long-standing support.”

Mark Dixon, president of A+ Education Partnership, said the Alabama Power Foundation doesn’t just give money but takes an active role in ensuring programs are successful.

“Alabama Power Foundation and Alabama Power Company have been a big supporter of ours since day one and over the years provided a lot of funding that really allows us to grow our mission, which is to create great schools for every child,” Dixon said. “We do two programs in schools – the Alabama Best Practices Center and A+ College Ready – and part of that is expanding great training for teachers and advanced placement programs for students. Alabama Power helped us fund those as a partner from the very beginning.”

Calhoun said the foundation’s mission fits in with the history of Alabama Power, with the ultimate goal of elevating the state.

“We believe and it is our hope that what we do creates a platform that makes economic development and community development and, really, the health and vitality of the state a bit easier,” she said. “And that’s what gets us going every day and that’s what makes us think strategically about the work that we do. And that’s what helps us to empower the agencies who day in and day out are doing the hard work in the communities where we serve.”

Grant recipients talk about the importance of Alabama Power Foundation from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

16 hours ago

Alabama-built USS Mobile christened in its namesake city — ‘Best that America has to offer’

MOBILE — At Austal USA’s world-class shipbuilding facility in its namesake city, the future USS Mobile (LCS 26) was christened on Saturday in front of a crowd of thousands of attendees.

The future USS Mobile is an Independence-variant littoral combat ship (LCS) currently under construction in Alabama’s Port City.

Dignitaries, Austal employees, community leaders and U.S. Navy personnel attended the ceremony, which was set alongside — and, for part of the crowd, under — the ship in a massive construction bay.

A symbiotic mixture of patriotism and local pride was the theme of the day, which while celebratory in the trademark Mobile fashion, also turned somber at moments, as the reality of what the ship symbolizes hit home.

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A family tradition

A moment of silence was held at the beginning of the program to honor Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, as well as all of the service members who have, continue to and will put themselves in harm’s way for our nation.

Later, to begin his remarks, U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (AL-01) called for a moment of silence to honor the lives lost at Pensacola Naval Air Station on Friday.

“A loss anywhere in the Navy family is a loss for all of us,” he said.

Family was indeed a major component of the day.

Byrne’s wife, Rebecca, is the ship’s sponsor. Their three daughters are the ship’s matrons of honor, which, as the congressman afterward explained, means that one of them would take over in Mrs. Byrne’s stead if she became unable to continue her duties as sponsor.

“So as long as this ship’s in the United States Navy, a Byrne woman will take care of it, I guarantee you,” he added.

Both Rep. Byrne and Mrs. Byrne come from storied naval lineage.

In fact, the congressman’s grandmother worked at a Mobile shipbuilding company during World War II, one of many “Rosie the Riveters” who were cranking out one Liberty ship for the Navy every week in Alabama during that war.

That grandmother was herself made a sponsor of a Navy ship, the Afoundria, after her Merchant Marine son, the congressman’s uncle, was lost at sea in 1943 after his ship was sunk by a German U-boat.

Mrs. Byrne explained that one of her relatives was a U.S. Naval officer who served on over 30 missions to the Arctic in the early 1900s, including Admiral Peary’s famed expedition to the North Pole in 1909. Additionally, Mrs. Byrne’s great grandfather was a ship captain from Nova Scotia.

And, just this year, one of the Byrnes’ daughters married a Navy surface warfare officer.

History aside, the Navy is now very much part of the family’s present.

Mrs. Byrne commented, “I know now what it means to be a Navy family, which makes this day even more special for me.”

A city of builders

While the Byrnes have long-running ties to the open seas, so too does the city of Mobile have a storied history of excellence in shipbuilding.

From building the H.L. Hunley, the first submarine ever to sink a ship, in 1863 to Alabama Dry Dock and Ship Building Company’s historic work from 1917 until well into the 1970s to what Austal USA is accomplishing today, Mobile has made its mark by making ships.

Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson, speaking on Saturday, remarked, “We are a city of makers, of builders, innovators and inventors.”

Austal is now the prime contractor for two cutting-edge U.S. Navy ships: the Independence-variant LCS and the Spearhead-class Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF).

To date, Austal has delivered 10 of 14 contracted EPFs and 10 of 19 contracted LCS to the Navy, making the company’s Mobile facility the nation’s fifth-largest shipyard in the process. These 20 ships have been delivered just in the past five years, and Saturday marked the third christening in 2019 alone.

The Independence-variant LCS is a high-speed, shallow draft multi-mission ship capable of operating independently or in a group. These ships are designed to defeat growing littoral threats and provide access and dominance along coastal waters. A fast, maneuverable, and networked surface-combatant, LCS provides the required warfighting capabilities and operational flexibility to execute focused missions such as surface warfare, mine warfare and anti-submarine warfare.

Austal USA president Craig Perciavalle stated, “We are blessed to have christened so many ships through the years, but this one is special. It is a distinct privilege to build a ship named after your namesake city and this has truly been a community effort. The support we have received from Senator (Richard) Shelby, Senator (Doug) Jones, Congressman Byrne, the county and city has been incredible and has played a major role in our success to date.”

“With incredible speed, volume, flexibility and firepower, Mobile will be the coolest, most formidable small surface combatant on the planet, one that meets the needs of the Navy of today, while having the adaptability to meet the needs of the Navy of tomorrow — a ship that will represent the best that America has to offer across the globe for decades,” he added.

While LCS 26 will become the fifth USS Mobile in history, the ship will be the first of its name to actually be built in Mobile. Then-Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus in September of 2016 authorized the naming.

Stimpson stressed, “Our community is profoundly grateful for this tribute.”

The first USS Mobile was a side-wheel steamer that operated as a Confederate government operated blockade runner. It was captured by U.S. forces at New Orleans in April 1862, commissioned as Tennessee and later renamed Mobile.

The second Mobile was reportedly a passenger liner operated by Hamburg Amerika Lines between Germany and the United States until the outbreak of World War I. It was taken over by the Allied Maritime Council and assigned to the U.S. after the Armistice and commissioned March 1919.

The third Mobile (CL 63) was commissioned March 24, 1943. It participated in numerous campaigns in the Pacific during World War II and received 11 battle stars for her service by the time she was decommissioned in May of 1947.

The fourth Mobile (LKA 115) was an amphibious cargo ship that served from September 1969 until decommissioning in February of 1994. The captain of that vessel was actually in attendance at the christening on Saturday.

‘Fair winds and following seas’

Each speaker during Saturday’s program gave their version of wishing the future crew members of LCS 26, some of which were in the crowd — including the future first captain of the ship, protection in their travels and service to come. This included Perciavalle, Stimpson, Rep. Byrne and Mrs. Byrne, as well as: Carlo Zaffanella, vice president and general manager of maritime and strategic systems for General Dynamics Missions Systems; Frederick J. Stefany III, principal civilian deputy to the assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition; Vice Admiral John G. Hannink, judge advocate general of the Navy; and Pastor Chris Bell of 3Circle Church.

“I wish you fair winds and following seas,” Rep. Byrne said. “Let me add, as we Irish say, may God hold you in the palm of His hand. And to you all, may God bless you, may God bless our great United States Navy and may God bless the United States of America.”

After Bell gave the invocation for the ship, Mrs. Byrne formally blessed the future USS Mobile through breaking a bottle of sparkling wine across the bow — as is a time-honored Navy tradition.

In his closing remarks, Stimpson presented the future crew members with a key to the city, which will always sail with LCS 26.

“I want to convey that this ship will sail with the support of our entire city,” the mayor emphasized, saying its future crew members should all consider themselves honorary Mobilians.

Stimpson concluded, “My prayer is that this ship and all who sail upon her will always have the protection of the Holy Spirit [and] the bay upon which she was built, for there is no greater protection.”

You can watch a live stream of the event here.

Read more in Yellowhammer’s live-tweet thread from the event here.

The future USS Mobile is slated to launch in the spring of 2020, after which it will undergo acceptance trials. Upon completion of these trials, the ship would subsequently be delivered to the U.S. Navy and an official commissioning, expected in 2021, would then be held.

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

18 hours ago

Alabama’s Hangout Music Festival announces initial 2020 lineup

The Hangout Music Festival, the three-day music event at Gulf Shores, announced the lineup for its 11th annual event to take place May 15-19, 2020.

Here are the artists scheduled to attend:

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The 2020 Hangout will once again include access to beach clubs and Hammock Beach along with beach volleyball, yoga, disco skating at the full-sized Roller Rink. Camp Hangout, dance parties and other activities are among the offerings. Get a full list here.

Tickets go on sale Monday, Dec. 9 at 10 a.m. with a variety of ticket offerings ranging from general admission to a host of VIP options – all-inclusive VIP, Super VIP, Big Kahuna and Cabana packages. Visit here for details on ticket packages and prices.

Fans can purchase presale tickets via American Express or Tunespeak. The AMEX presale starts Friday, Dec. 6 at 8 a.m. and is open to all American Express card holders. The Tunespeak presale starts Friday, Dec. 6 at 10 a.m. and customers can sign up for access at hangoutmusicfest.com. Both presales end Monday, Dec. 9 at 9:30 a.m.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

18 hours ago

Roy Moore pledges ‘commitment to God,’ rails against D.C. amid backdrop of vocal protesters

TUSCUMBIA — The sleepy county seat of northwestern Alabama’s Colbert County was a hotbed for politics early Saturday morning.

Around two dozen protesters showed up at the Helen Keller Public Library to voice their disapproval of former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, a candidate for Alabama’s U.S. Senate seat up next year, who was speaking to the Shoals Republican Club.

However, Moore did not allow those protesters armed with a bullhorn just a few feet and a windowpane away from thwarting his presentation to the Republican club.

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Despite chants of “Go to hell, Roy Moore,” “No more Roy Moore,” and “This is what democracy looks like,” the Etowah County Republican attempted to clarify his position on race and homosexuality.

“Now I’m accused of being a racist and homophobic,” Moore said. “I’m not scared of homosexuals. I don’t hate homosexuals. If I did, I couldn’t wear this cross on my lapel. You’re commanded to love people, but you’re also commanded to abhor sin, that which is evil. My position in this race is freedom of speech and truth. That’s why I’m running — a commitment to God. My sole purpose in life is to serve God. If he would have me in Washington, D.C., I will go — reluctantly, I will go because it is a different world.”

Moore pledged not to be dissuaded by protesters on the left or Washington, D.C. forces on the right in his second bid for the U.S. Senate in just the last two years.

“They hate me there. They have vowed to stop me. In fact, they said the last time around, they said it was a sprint. This is a marathon, said Jesse Hunt, the spokesman for the NRSC,” Moore said as he pointed at a tracker in the audience, urging him to send his statement to Hunt.

Moore also likened President Donald Trump’s impeachment travails to those of former President Andrew Johnson, who he argued was a victim of the radical Republicans of the time. He offered the audience assurances he would serve in the mold of former U.S. Sen. Edmund Ross (R-Kan.), who, despite being an opponent of Johnson, cast the deciding vote against Johnson’s removal from office in 1868, claiming loyalty to his oath to the Constitution.

@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.

20 hours ago

Alabama’s Dauphin Island Sea Lab teaches more than science

For the staff at Alabama’s Dauphin Island Sea Lab (DISL), one mission stands above all: to help others love marine science as much as they do.

“We like to think the impact is life-lasting,” said Tina Miller-Way, chair of Discovery Hall Programs at DISL. “There are many students that don’t realize that we even exist, that the ocean even exists, so the impact stems from opening a student’s eyes. The impact is really seeing that lightbulb going off and having a good time while they’re doing it. That’s worth gold.”

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Dauphin Island Sea Lab makes science fun for all ages from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Miller-Way oversees Kindergarten-12 education efforts at DISL, which last year served hundreds of teachers through training workshops and 22,000 children through field trips, summer camps and remotely operated vehicle (ROV) competitions. DISL’s mobile classroom, BayMobile, also allows her staff to visit underserved schools across Alabama that do not have the opportunity or the means to visit the Dauphin Island Sea Lab on a field trip.

“Not every student learns in the same way,” Miller-Way said. “When you bring students out of that classroom and put them outside in the field or use a different modality of teaching, such as hands-on learning, you’re able to reach a different group of students or you’re able to reach students in a different way.”

DISL is Alabama’s primary marine education and research center, founded in 1971 by the Alabama Legislature to provide marine science programs for the state’s colleges and universities. Lee Smee, chair of University Programs, said DISL’s summer program for undergraduate students is now the largest of its kind in the country.

“We had 230 or so undergraduates here from all over the state (this past summer),” Smee said. “We have 23 different universities in Alabama that send people down here to work with us. That does a lot of good for the whole state.”

Smee said financial support from donors and businesses is helping his program and other programs at DISL grow. One example of that support is a $25,000 grant from the Alabama Power Foundation to help DISL purchase a new research vessel.

Alabama Power is really generous,” Smee said. “They gave us a $25,000 grant toward the purchase of a new research vessel. The Dauphin Island Sea Lab Foundation was able to raise the rest of the money, which they wouldn’t have been able to do without Alabama Power. That’s a huge boost for all of our programs.”

In addition to the two education programs, DISL operates the George F. Crozier Estuarium, a public aquarium specializing in estuarine organisms found throughout the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta, Mobile Bay, the barrier islands and the northern Gulf of Mexico. Miller-Way said every program is successful because the staff rallies around one simple goal: to increase ocean and environmental literacy among everyone they meet.

“The more minds and hands that are involved in designing and implementing these programs, the better the program is going to be,” Miller-Way said. “I love our staff. They are absolutely wonderful at what they do and we work very well together.”

For more information about the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, visit disl.org.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)