Thursday, October 20, 2011

Measure 2 will stop these special interests

Taxpayers Should Question North Dakota DPI’s Cozy Relationship With The State Teacher’s Union

Rob Port • October 20, 2011

Social conservatives and I don’t often agree on issues like homosexuality, but I think concerns being expressed by social conservatives in North Dakota over the NDEA’s statewide teacher conference in Bismarck today and tomorrow are valid.

This conference has always bothered me, because I don’t understand why they hold it during the school year. Don’t teachers have months off during the summer where they could hold their conference and union meeting without interrupting the school week? But when you look at the agenda for the conference in Bismarck, there are some real problems.

Janne Myrdal of Concerned Women for America has been leading the charge on this (read her SAB post on the subject here), and makes some good points about whether or not the involvement of state employees in this conference is appropriate:

BISMARCK, ND – The North Dakota Education Association and North Dakota’s Department of Public Instruction are holding an instructional conference in Bismarck this week, but the agenda for the conference is causing some controversy. Janne Myrdal, state director of the socially conservative Concerned Women for America, says a scheduled seminar on gay, lesbian, transgendered and questioning students is inappropriate.

“I don’t really know what that’s got to do with safe education for our students,” sayd Myrdal during an interview on the Scott Hennen Show today. “It doesn’t improve my children’s education to have teachers focusing on this.”

She also questions the involvement of a state employee in the seminar. “The one that’s actually holding the seminar is a taxpayer funded employee of DPI,” said Myrdal.

According to an agenda for the conference posted on the NDEA website, DPI employee Sandra Tibke will lead the seminar which is described as “an interactive training where teachers will learn how to start creating a safe school environment for LGBTQ students.”

But Myrdal says the question of student safety is already being covered by another seminar at the conference. “There’s already a bullying seminar.”

Here’s another fun fact about the conference: It’s called “Sharing The Change Together.” Which, uh, sounds remarkably similar to a certain President’s 2008 campaign slogan.

And when you consider that this isn’t the first time the state’s Department of Public Instruction has pulled a stunt like this, you begin to see a problem.

Any close observer of North Dakota politics knows that the North Dakota Education Association – the state’s teacher union – is an overtly political group. It may as well be a liberal advocacy group which also dabbles in representing teachers. Their building in Bismarck houses not just the union staff itself, but the offices of a myriad of liberal activist groups as well.

There’s a lot of hidden politics in North Dakota’s education system, starting with state Superintendent Wayne Sanstead who is supposedly a non-partisan elected official but makes no bones of his allegiance to Democrats.

Now, the NDEA is a private group. Whether or not they’re appropriately representing their membership is between them and their membership. And they can promote whatever political agendas they want at their conferences. But state employees and taxpayer dollars ought not be involved.
Tags: north dakota education association, North Dakota News, sandra tibke, wayne sanstead

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