Month – April 2011

T/E Teachers Union Offers Salary Freeze . . . TESD Rejects Offer, Wants Pay Increase Waiver

Tredyffrin Easttown School District is struggling with the budget crisis much as other school districts across the state and the country.  Serious budget issues escalated last month with Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposed budget, which contained massive cuts to public education funding. 

School districts nationwide are looking for ways to balance their budgets in the face of looming deficits. Often budget discussions focus on teacher unions, which quickly turn into a debate about whether they have given too much or not enough at a time when school dollars are scarce.  There are those that vilify teacher unions as the cause of escalating school district budgets, claiming that their pensions, health care coverage and guaranteed salary raises have increased the property taxes of those who pay the teacher salaries.  Counter to this attitude are public school teachers and their supporters who claim that politicians are looking to balance budgets on their backs.

School districts and the teachers unions are vying to make their individual cases to the public.  As budget discussions become more heated, often times the divide increases between the two sides. School district officials are looking to balance their budgets and teacher union leaders struggle to protect the rights of their workers. There are always two sides to a story but there is a very important third party, whose rights are often overlooked in the debate . . . the taxpayer.

“ . . . It is well understood that this school district [TESD] like so many in this country is facing a financial crisis.  It would appear that this is the time for all of us to work together instead of against each other.  As a good first step, I would propose that the information disseminated be supported.  Unfortunately, when situations reach a crisis level within an organization (whether it is the school district, local government, corporations, etc) rumor mills explode and before you know it, things are out of control.”  Community Matters, January 18, 2010

I wrote these words 15 months ago in the post, ‘Is the Teacher Union aiding in the Fact vs. Fiction Component of the TESD Budget Crisis” and they are just as important today.

I believe in the value of transparency and availability of information from government to the public.  To understand a situation and to make an informed decision requires knowing the truth.  As I said in January 2010, “. . . when situations reach a crisis level . . . rumor mills explode and before you know it, things are out of control.”  Nothing could be closer to the truth. 

Residents in the T/E School District were told by the T/E School Board that letters (dated April 6, 2011) had gone to the two district unions, Tredyffrin Easttown Education Association, TEEA the teachers union and Tredyffrin Easttown Non-Instructional Group, TENIG.  According to the school board, the letters could not be made public for legal reasons. It is my understanding that the school board letters contained a request to both unions for a pay increase waiver for next year.  If you recall, Gov. Corbett had suggested that teachers unions in Pennsylvania encourage their members to take a salary ‘freeze’ for next year to help their budget shortfalls. Several residents have contacted me and some have spoken up at the school board meetings to ask about the TESD letters, and if there has been a response from either union.  With hands apparently tied legally, our school board was not able to provide much detail.  I was told last week that members of TENIG were considering some kind of ‘give-back’ offer to the district and were to vote yesterday on their offer.

Until earlier this week, I assumed that the teachers union was not considering any type of ‘give-back’ offer or concession. My impression from attending district budget, finance and school board meetings was certainly that no response (or offer) had been received by the district.  During the course of this week however, I have had phone calls and emails from numerous sources suggesting that a salary freeze offer was made to the T/E School Board but that the offer was rejected.  To clarify, these sources of information were not TEEA union leadership. 

Clearly confused but believing in the publics ‘right to know’, yesterday I contacted via email the members of the TESD school board and Pete DePiano, TEEA union president. The following email was sent to the School Board and DePiano asking for clarification:

Dear __________

I am in receipt of information that indicates, among other things, that there was an offer made from Tredyffrin Easttown Education Association teachers union for salary freezes for next year, in advance of the negotiations for the next contract.  According to several sources, the TESD school board rejected the teacher union’s salary freeze offer, citing that such an offer would only be acceptable if the current teacher’s contract were opened and renegotiated. 

I am working on an article on this topic and I am affording you the opportunity to comment on this matter.  If you wish to comment, I will need the information within 24 hours, by 10 AM Friday, April 29, 2011. 

Kind regards,
Pattye Benson

From the President of TEEA, I received the following email response:

On April 15, 2011, TEEA formally offered a salary schedule pay freeze to the T/E Board of School Directors.  The Board formally has responded to TEEA that they cannot accept the offer.  As the T/E School District prepares to finalize its budget for 2011-12, TEEA will continue to work diligently with its members behind the scenes to attempt to reach another cost savings offer.

Pete DePiano
TEEA President

In response to my request, I received the following response from T/E School Board President Karen Cruickshank:

Dear Pattye:

Many thanks for contacting the T/E School Board about a teacher offer in T/E.  As you know we are in a significant budget crisis, and have asked both of our unions in a sense of shared sacrifice to participate in a pay waiver.  At our Monday night Finance meeting we will provide a detailed presentation about why we can not accept a pay freeze but would welcome a pay waiver.  I would encourage you to attend the meeting so that you can see the entire presentation and ask any questions that you have of the board.

Many thanks for your commitment to providing information to our community. 

Most sincerely,
Karen Cruickshank
T/E School Board President

Karen Cruickshank sent a follow-up email:

Dear Pattye:

In regards to your request for information about union offers in the T/E School District, the TESD School Board does not negotiate in public.  We continue to remain in close communications with both of our unions.  

As I did say in my earlier e-mail there is confusion over the difference between a pay waiver and a pay freeze, and we will clearly point out the financial differences between them at our Monday night Finance Committee meeting.  The Board as always will be most happy to take questions from the community at the meeting.

Most sincerely,
Karen Cruickshank
T/E School Board President

Although we learn from these responses that there was an ‘offer’ from the teachers union and a ‘rejection’ from the school district, what did the offer letter and the rejection letter actually say . . . ? It is obvious there is confusion between a salary ‘freeze’ and a salary ‘waiver’ and it is noted from both of Cruikshank’s responses, that the school board intends to clarify those distinctions at TESD’s upcoming Finance Committee meeting on Monday night.

I did not receive copies of either the TEEA letter to T/E School Board or the letter from the T/E School Board to TEEA.  However, with a bit of research online I was able to track down both letters.  The letters are available online (and therefore public) and can be found at www.teeacher.org .

In addition to the TEEA and TESD letters, there is a note to the teachers from DePiano:

To all TEEA members:

Below are two letters. The first, dated April 15, 2011, is TEEA’s response to the TE School Board’s request that we waive the fourth year of our contract. It consists of a refusal to waive the contract and an offer to freeze the contract for one year and extend it.

The second, dated April 27, 2011, is the District’s response, a refusal to consider any agreement that involves extending our contract.

To clarify: A waiver would cancel the fourth year of our collectively bargained contract and put us into immediate negotiations for a new agreement. A freeze is essentially a one-year pause. We would work in 2011-2012 under the same provisions we have this year. We would then realize the negotiated final year of our contract in 2012-2013.

Yours in solidarity,

Pete DePiano, President TEEA

You will note that the TEEA offer letter dated April 15, 2011 to TESD states in part,

“ . . . In an attempt to prevent more painful cuts from having to occur (including program cuts, increases in class size, or an outsourcing of the custodial staff) yet also honor the contract that was negotiated in good faith, the Representative Council of TEEA has authorized a salary freeze proposal for the Board’s consideration.  This includes a salary step freeze for 2011-12 based on the current 2010-11 salary schedule, with the final year of the originally bargained contract realized in 2012-13, including step movement and salaries.  It provides PSERs clemency to staff that will be retiring next year, and maintains status quo on all other provisions of the collective bargaining agreement. . . . I estimate this proposal will generate over $2.5 million in savings for FY 2011-12. . . “

The T/E School District response of April 27, 2011 rejected the TEEA offer stating that their letter of April 6, 2011 called upon the unions to accept a

“. . . one-year pay increase waiver as their contribution to the shared sacrifice to support T/E students.  After June 30, 2011, a waiver indicates that there will be no movement vertically or horizontally on the matrix for the 2011-12 school year.  The settlement of the new bargaining agreement effective July 1, 2012 will direct the placement of staff on the salary matrix for future years.  A one-year pay increase waiver would waive contract raises for the two unions’ employees for the 2011-12 school year and would result in a cost savings of approximately $3,000,000. . . “

Again, as I said more than a year ago, “rumor mills explode” and there is only one way to correct misinformation and that is with the facts. 

The budget crisis facing the school district and our community should not be about ‘picking sides’ . . . it should be about providing transparency, factual information and letting the public draw their own conclusions.

Proposed School Voucher Bill (SB 1) Unstalled and Inching Forward

Thank you to Larry Feinberg, keystonestateeducationcoalition.org for the following update on the proposed school voucher legislation.  Sounds like SB 1 is ‘unstalled’ and is moving forward again.

HI Pattye -

Here’s the latest update on the voucher bill SB1:

Allentown Morning Call Capitol Ideas Blog
John Micek, April 27, 5:49 p.m.

Senate Repubs, Corbett Reach Agreement On Voucher Bill

Senate Republicans And Gov. Tom Corbett have apparently resolved their differences over a stalled school vouchers bill, Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware, said this afternoon. Because we have friends in all the wrong places, here’s the amendatory language that’s under consideration (this part is strictly for the Trainspotters amongst you):

· Effective date of Implementation of Opportunity Scholarships and EITC increase/changes delayed until July 1, 2012.
· New timeline as a result:
· 2012-2013 – Year One – Low-income children in failing schools eligible for Opportunity
· Scholarships;
· 2013-2014 – Year Two – Low-income children in attendance boundaries of failing schools;
· 2014-2015 – Year Three – All low-income children statewide.
· As a result, there will be no significant budgetary costs in the upcoming fiscal year.
· Year Three Opportunity Scholarship recipients will be capped at 3% of the previous year’s Basic Education Funding (BEF) appropriation – projected at approximately $163 million in 2014-2015.
· PDE will administer the program.
· The Education Opportunity Board will remain in place in an advisory capacity and to approve the guidelines issued by PDE.
· The Governor will appoint the initial three members of the Education Opportunity Board with successor appointments confirmed by the Senate (modeled after the Philadelphia School Reform Commission).
· PDE’s definition of “LOW-ACHIEVING SCHOOLS” will be utilized with a separate ranking of elementary and secondary schools focusing on the bottom 5% of combined math and reading scores on most recent PSSA.
· In Year Four (2015-2016):
· Entire amount in the Excess Fund will start funding the Public School Choice Demonstration Grants for school districts to establish their own tuition grant programs (Public to Public) and for funding the Middle-Income Scholarship Program;
· Middle-Income Scholarship Program eligibility will increase to 350% of Federal Poverty ($78,225 for a family of four).

Read more:  http://blogs.mcall.com/capitol_ideas/2011/04/senate-repubs-corbett-reach-agreement-on-voucher-bill.html#comments

Budget Ax Falls in Philadelphia; Pink Slips Could Go to 3,820 School District Employees

Late Wednesday, the Philadelphia School District announced that 16% of the district’s 24,000 employees . . . or 3,820 positions might be eliminated.  The district has a shortfall of $629 million and estimates they will need to severely reduce the work force to meet the deficit. A budget for the district must be approved by the end of May and the clock is ticking.

If Gov. Corbett’s proposed budget is passed, Philadelphia School District stands to lose $292 million in state funding – representing close to a 10% reduction in the District’s overall funding.  As a result, pink slips could go to hundreds of aides, custodians and central office staff, plus about 12 percent of the teachers. The school district will be forced to cut the workforce by 3,820, which includes 400 members of Central Office staff, 1,260 teachers, 650 aides, 430 custodians, 180 counselors and 51 nurses. The district also plans to increase class sizes and curb spending on transportation, special education, summer school, arts, music and sports.

Some are forecasting that teacher cuts will be on the newer and probably younger teachers. On hearing the District announcement of massive teacher cuts, a friend forwarded me an email from a young Philly teacher.  Sad words from a dedicated teacher:

This whole thing is so terribly sad. I am a new teacher in fear of being laid off. In view of the circumstances, it may be likely that I will not ever be called back for my job.

Like many other teachers, I put my heart and soul into my job. No expense was ever too great for my students. I feel like I did not even get a chance to prove myself in becoming an even better teacher. My heart goes out to all teachers in fear of losing their jobs. I wish they would let us know so that we can try to make sense out of this and try to cope with this.

I feel like my heart has been ripped out, and I have been robbed of true happiness in doing what I love. I wish everyone the best—including the new teachers who probably will be the first to go.

In addition to the major reduction in the workforce, the District is looking for $75 million in budget help to come from teacher union concessions. As to be expected, union membership feels that they have given enough . . . collectively, the teacher’s are saying, “they do feel the pain!”

We learned this week from Harrisburg that the state school voucher program is inching forward again and discussions are continuing on proposed legislation that permits furloughing of teachers for ‘economic reasons’.. The teacher pension crisis continues to underscore the severity of the current economic situation.  In the morning news, it is reported that New Jersey’s unfunded pension liability stands at $53.8 billion, the fourth highest in the country.

Does this news from Philadelphia School District have any significance for local school districts?

A Sign of the Times . . . Corbett’s De-Funding Public Education Plays Out in Teacher Contracts, School Vouchers, Education Rallies . . . What is the Future of Public Education in Pennsylvania?

Gov. Corbett’s plan to de-fund public education in Pennsylvania in his proposed $1.2 billion funding cuts is becoming the backdrop for school district budget discussion statewide. Corbett’s education-funding proposal has left many communities wondering how they are going to make up their budget deficits and are looking to the teachers and non-instructional workers for help.

This week in Unionville-Chadds Ford School District, the teacher contracts appear to have stalled with both sides remaining at odds. If you recall, the teachers have been working under the conditions of the old contract, which expired last summer. Unionville-Chadds Ford School District is struggling with their budget and how to handle the $1.1 million reduction in state spending contained in Corbett’s proposed budget. The non-instructional district support staff agreed to a salary freeze but at this time, the teachers have not.

In Tredyffrin-Easttown School District, the school board sent letters to Tredyffrin Easttown Education Association (TEEA) and Tredyffrin Easttown Non Instructional Group (TENIG) unions asking the members to consider a salary freeze for next year.  Although I do not believe there has been an official response from either union, it is my understanding that TENIG will meet tomorrow (Thursday) for discussion and a vote on a salary freeze.  TEEA members will hold further discussions next week but I do not know if salary freeze is part of the discussion. 

In recent days, there have been many rallies around the state in support of public education. “Cut Corbett Not Schools” signs are seen all over Harrisburg – demanding that the legislature restore the $1.1 billion in education funding. There is a continued push by many to create a state-funded school voucher program (SB 1). Currently the proposed voucher legislation is stalled in the Senate; I think primarily due to the perceived cost of implementation.  The heated discussion of a state-mandated school voucher program continues to widen the divide between the teacher unions and the school choice advocates, who believe that vouchers are the answer to failing public schools.

The bitter debate raging in the state over Corbett’s proposed public education budget cuts has taken a toll on his approval ratings.  Less than four months in the governor’s mansion and today the Quinnipiac University polling is showing a big jump in disapproval for Corbett.  The polling indicated that 52% of Pennsylvania voters disapprove of the way Corbett is handling the state budget and 64% oppose his budget cutting of state and state-related universities.  (To read the April 27 Quinnipiac University poll, click here).

Aside from public approval ratings, what will Corbett’s proposed budget cuts mean for the future of public education? What lies ahead for school districts and our children across Pennsylvania . . . the elimination of art and music, language classes, increase in class sizes, scaling back full-time kindergarten to half-day, cuts to athletic programs? These are budget cuts that will require many school districts to impose higher property taxes, lay-off staff or impose pay-for-play requirements. Pennsylvania has become a battleground for public education funding . . . what does this say for the future of our children’s education?

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A reminder that tonight at 7 PM, State Senator Andy Dinniman will hold an education rally on the steps of the Chester County Courthouse (corner of High and Market Streets) in West Chester.

There’s Money in Naming Rights for School District Athletic Fields, Concession Stands, Auditoriums, etc. – T/E Explores the Possibilities

I attended last night’s School Board meeting, primarily for the presentation from Market Street Sports Group, a marketing advertising company from Lancaster County specializing in event sponsorships and ‘naming rights’ opportunities.  Two Market Street representatives, Frank Hoke and Tracey Brubaker, explained that they have worked with various school districts using Hempfield School District in Lancaster County as an example and one of their clients. Through corporate sponsorships and naming rights on fields, concession stands, etc. the company raises additional funds for their clients.

The Market Street presentation answered some of the advertising and marketing questions.  The school board would retain final approval on all corporate partners, proposals and contracts.  Certain types of advertising is prohibited including advertising of lotteries, promotion of the sale or use of alcohol or tobacco products plus any service, product or point of view that is not acceptable to the school board. The Market Street Sports Group process includes creating an inventory of available resources for naming rights. Signage strategically placed in certain approved areas of schools, athletic fields, gyms, concession stands, auditoriums, or cafeterias are some possible naming locations.

Naming rights and signage can be lucrative to school districts – representatives cited that Hempfield School District earns $100-130K per year with various naming opportunities. A specific example was a banner over the concession stand on one of the school fields earns $30K for a 3-year contract, $10K per year.  The cost of doing business with Market Street Sports Group does come with a price – a commission rate of 30%.  As explained, the first 10% goes to the sales rep at Market Street (for selling the sponsorships), the next 10% to the local TESD representative and the final 10% to overhead costs (billing sponsors on monthly basis, credit card fees, etc.) The process involves more than just hanging a banner on a field – the sponsors require value for their marketing dollars as well as the school districts gaining additional funding.  Through ‘active engagement’, the sponsors reach customers in a specific demographic area through public address announcements, website advertising, promotions and giveaways at sporting events, etc.

Hoke, who serves as chief financial officer of Market Street, was asked if the 30% commission rate was negotiable and his response was vague and not positive.  An audience member who quickly Googled the Hempfield School District (which was used as an example by Market Street) suggested that the average income level in Hempfield was probably half of the average income level in T/E.  She suggested that the T/E community had the capacity for making more money for Market Street (with no greater effort) so perhaps that should be considered when looking at the commission rate.  Although the representatives were polite, I am not certain that the 30% would be negotiable.

School directors questioned how Market Street would find (and hire) a local representative in the TESD.  Working with the school district and administration, the company would look for a community person interested in part-time work and extra money – possibly a TESD teacher.  It was important the person be a local hire, someone who understood the area as Market Street Sports Group is from Lancaster County.

School board member Anne Crowley questioned the company representatives on how they handle competing local companies that might want to participate in naming opportunities, such as three dry cleaners.  Market Street sales rep Tracey Brubaker offered that this competing situation had never occurred and if it did would be solved ‘creatively’.  Brubaker’s response was not satisfactory; her suggestion that this situation had never occurred seemed unlikely.  Well, I think I understand why – after a bit of research, I determined that Brubaker only joined Market Street Sports Group last month.  In her 5 weeks with the company, my guess is that the situation of competing advertisers has not occurred but I believe does require further consideration.

The presentation from Market Street Sports Group was interesting.  However, I think it was obvious to the school board and members of the audience that this topic will require further study and discussion.

Countdown to Primary Day, May 17 . . . Presenting Tredyffrin Supervisor Candidate Resumes

The Pennsylvania Primary Election is 30 days from tomorrow — Tuesday, May 17, 2011.  As was previously announced on April 11, I will provide all the candidates resumes on Community Matters using the following schedule. I hope that by providing in-depth information on local candidates will encourage increased voter turnout for the Pennsylvania Primary Election.  Historically, voter turnout in Tredyffrin Township has been low for the Primary Election, (particularly in a non-presidential year) —  here’s hoping that trend changes next month.

In Pennsylvania, only registered Republican and Democratic voters are permitted to vote in the Primary Election.  As a reminder, this year in addition to the Primary Election, there is a  Special Election in Tredyffrin Township — Independents, as well as Republican and Democrats can vote in the Special Election race.

The Special Election will fill the vacancy in the office of the Board of Supervisors caused by the resignation of Warren Kampf.  The vacancy was temporarily filled by the interim supervisor appointment of Mike Heaberg.  As required by the Township’s Home Rule Charter and the Pennsylvania Election Code,  a Special Election will be held and voters will choose between incumbent Mike Heaberg (R) and Molly Duff (D).  The individual elected will fill the remainder of the supervisor term, ending on December 31, 2011.

  • Monday, April 25:  Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisor Candidates
  • Monday, May 2:  Tredyffrin-Easttown School Board Candidates
  • Monday, May 9: Chester County Magisterial District Judge, District Court 15-4-01 Candidates
  • Wednesday, May 11: Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors Special Election Candidates
  • Tuesday, May 17:  Pennsylvania 2011 Primary

According to the schedule above, today is for the Board of Supervisor candidates.  I have received resumes or bios on each of the candidates listed —  click on the candidate’s name and the link  will take you directly to the individual candidates information. 

I encourage you to review the information that the candidates have provided and welcome your thoughtful comments.

Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisor Candidates:

         ** Incumbent

Anniversary of Gulf of Mexico BP Spill Marked by another Fuel Spill . . . Marcellus Shale Environmental Disaster

On the anniversary of the blowout of BP’s deepwater oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, there is another fuel spill – this time much closer to home. Near Canton, PA thousands of gallons of chemical laced water has spilled due to a blowout at a natural gas well.  Workers from Chesapeake Energy Corp. lost control of a Marcellus Shale well on Tuesday and the extent of the spillage remains unknown at this time.

Chesapeake Energy Corp. is the country’s second largest producer of natural gas.  The company particularly focuses on developing unconventional sources of onshore oil and gas.  As of December 31, 2010, Chesapeake held 13.3 million net acres of land across the United States, on which the company has identified 38,000 drilling opportunities.  

Chesapeake extracts natural gas by an unconventional method using the controversial drilling technique hydraulic fracturing or fracking.  Significant environmental concerns surround this fracturing process – primarily how to dispose of the toxic drilling water is injected to break up the rock formations and release the gas.  Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale has become of the epicenter of the unconventional natural gas industry . . . and now marks the site of the latest fuel spill. 

Fracking has long been a controversial issue, criticized by environmental groups for its potentially adverse effects on the environment.  The chemicals used in fracking fluids have been a contentious subject, as many energy companies have long guarded them as a “trade secret”. Some opponents to fracking suggest that energy companies using this controversial fracking method have injected millions of gallons of potentially hazardous chemicals and known carcinogens, such as methanol, into wells across the country.

This latest chemical-laden fluid spill has contaminated Towanda Creek, a tributary of the Susquehanna River.  A contaminated creek cannot be saved.  Damage done.  Reports are that the creek was stocked with trout on April 5th.  The well blew out near the surface, causing fluid to run over containment walls, through fields, personal property, and farms “even where cattle continue to graze”. Local families have been forced to evacuate due the spill and do not know the future of their drinking water. Private drinking wells are being tested for contamination.  Officials are warning farmers in the area that cattle should no longer drink from the stream.

This latest fuel spill has all the makings of an environmental disaster in northern Pennsylvania. How do you put a price tag on this kind of environmental damage? Is this the legacy of deregulation of natural gas?  When asked to comment on the spill, one Harrisburg politician last night shrugged his shoulders and remarked, “no one was killed . . . mistakes happen”.  

National Tea Party Review Magazine Hit the Newsstands in February – T/E School Board Member Dr. Richard Brake, a Featured Contributor

Whether you lean to the left, to the right, or somewhere in between, there are periodicals dedicated to your political point of view . . . The New Republic, Harper’s, New Yorker plus countless others.

However, did you know that there is a magazine dedicated to the Tea Party movement, the Tea Party Review?  Billing itself as the “first national magazine for, by and about the Tea Party Movement”, the new magazine had its debut in February of this year.

According to their website, the Tea Party Review provides a place “for Tea Parties to come together, to trade ideas, to resolve disputes . . . a place to develop plans for taking our country back from the elitist, arrogant, obnoxious, corrupt members of the Washington establishment and their friends in Hollywood, the news media, faculty lounges, and on Wall Street.” Those are some strong words from the Tea Party Review!

Although this new periodical hit the newsstands in February, I only discovered it today. Beyond my initial surprise that there was a magazine dedicated to Tea Partiers, I was further surprised to find that one of our T/E school board members, Dr. Richard Brake, was a featured contributor in the magazine, recently writing Negative Learning – Why Obama Needs the Youth Vote.  http://www.teapartyreview.com/negative-learning-why-obama-needs-youth-vote

Further online research indicated that Brake has written extensively on the tea party movement.  Here is a sampling of Brake’s prolific writing:

Militant Libertarian contains an article, Elected Officials Flunk Constitution Test written by Brake.  The Militant Libertarian website claims to contain articles and information on “fighting back against the New World Order, the Banksters, the Police State, the System, or whatever label you’d like to give the screw job that is happening to our liberties.”
http://militantlibertarian.org/2011/01/16/elected-officials-flunk-constitution-quiz/

Listed as a featured columnist for the conservative news magazine, Townhall Conservative, a recent edition contains Brake’s article, George Washington and the Need for Enlightened Citizenship.
http://townhall.com/columnists/drrichardbrake/2011/02/22/george_washington_and_the_need_for_enlightened_citizenship

On the Capital News website, there is a post by Brake, which contains ” . . .  I think it’s a great thing that Tea Party members are making it a priority to educate themselves. You can’t read the Constitution with all its ‘Congress shall nots…’ without coming to the conclusion that the Constitution limits government.”  http://capoliticalnews.com/blog_post/show/7913

I discovered Brake was featured on Liberty Line Radio, which is hosted by Andrew Langer, an experienced DC politico and Tea Party Activist.  Brake’s radio podcast featured his recent survey from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI), his employer.
http://libertylineradio.blogspot.com/2011/03/liberty-line-32211-rich-brake.html

Grant County Tea Party in Indiana hosted a conference a couple of weeks ago, Whose Capitalism, Which Free Market?  The conference description was billed to ” . . .  include remedies to today’s crony capitalism by exploring the moral dimensions of a truly free and prosperous market order”. This Tea Party conference at Taylor University in Indiana featured Brake as the guest speaker. http://www.wewantamericaback.net/site/?p=1719

There were many more links for Brake but I suspended my research after I was directed to the Chester County Patriots Tea Party website. Listed as a member of this tea party organization, Brake also appears to host an online blog for the Tea Partiers.  The mission statement for the Tea Party organization states, “Chester County Patriots is a grassroots organization that promotes a return to limited government, personal responsibility, and upholding the U.S. Constitution. Our goal is to educate and motivate the public to embrace these founding conservative principles in order to maximize prosperity and freedoms for future generations. The Chester County Patriots will also encourage and support individuals with conservative principles to become more involved in local and federal government.”

ISI and Tea Party Patriots
Posted by Richard Brake
View Richard Brake’s blog

I’d like to introduce your group to my organization: the Intercollegiate Studies Institute www.isi.org Our mission is to educate for liberty – by transmitting to the next generation of Americans the political, economic, and moral principles that founded and continue to sustain our constitutional republic.

Clearly, your mission and ISI’s mission overlap – so we are now reaching out to grass-roots organizations like you to offer a helping hand of partnership.

And, as a resident of Chester County and local school board member, I am deeply interested in the same issues that motivate you and your membership.

I look forward to meeting you at an upcoming meeting.

Sincerely,
Rich Brake, Ph.D.

Besides discovering that Dr. Richard Brake, a political scientist, is also a prolific writer, it is fascinating to learn of Brake’s Tea Party connections.

Tea Partiers claim that they are a community committed to standing together, shoulder to shoulder, to protect our country and the Constitution. Recently, the country witnessed the battleground in Wisconsin as thousands of Tea Party activists rallied together in support of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker against organized labor.

The TESD School Board will begin teacher contract negotiations next year.  Based on other school district – teacher union contract negotiation experiences; I suspect the process in T/E will also prove challenging. Considering Dr. Brake’s tea party membership and claim of support to the local Chester County Patriot tea party organization, can we assume that as a School Board member, he will not be directly involved in the teacher contract negotiations?  Or . . . maybe there is no conflict for this Tea Party member.

I will reach out to Dr. Brake and see if he would like to offer a comment for Community Matters.

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