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Learning Curve

  • An F for transparency
    “Look at this shiny thing over here!” – Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma, Oct. 14, 2014.
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EAG's response

Wednesday's blog posting struck a nerve. Here's the response:

We at the Education Group Foundation found it interesting that Journal Gazette writer Karen Francisco made such nasty comments about us in her Jan. 7 blog.

Ms. Francisco never attempted to contact us prior to publication. She was obviously not interested in reporting both sides of the story.

If Ms. Francisco wants to enlighten her readers about an organization, she should do a bit more than a quick Google search. By attacking without researching, she left the distinct impression that she's an automatic ISTA apologist camouflaged in reporter clothing.

We're wondering if Ms. Francisco has written nasty blogs about the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the Indiana Secretary of State's office. Those agencies are currently investigating ISTA for possible criminal activities. Does that make them "union bashers, pure and simple," just like us?

Here's the part of the story Ms. Francisco didn't write.

The Education Action Group Foundation is a small non-profit organization based in Muskegon, Michigan. For the past 2 ½ years, we have turned the spotlight on the negative agenda and nasty tactics of the Michigan Education Association, one of the most politically powerful teachers unions in the nation.

With a staff of three, working on a shoestring budget, we brought attention to the MEA's habit of ripping off schools through its own insurance company, starting ugly recall campaigns against honest school board members who don't vote the union way, paying numerous top union executives six figures while running up a $124 million debt, and shamelessly trying to block Michigan's "Race to the Top" education reform effort.

None of these issues were investigated by the media until we publicized them. Now our work is regularly reported by newspapers and other media outlets across Michigan.

We've worked hard and received a lot of positive feedback from taxpayers, including many school employees who belong to the MEA. Last year several prominent Indiana residents, interested in reforming public education, asked us if we would replicate our work in the Hoosier state. We happily agreed, and we're just getting started.

We are dedicated to helping public schools improve, so they can adequately prepare youngsters for the challenges of the new century. That forces us to confront teachers unions, which automatically oppose any reform proposal that might bring accountability to the classroom.

In that respect, we're really doing nothing more than President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan are doing with their "Race to the Top" initiative.

In her blog, Ms. Francisco mentioned that we do not identify our private donors. We have that policy because teachers unions are notorious for trying to intimidate political opponents – even going so far as leaving animal carcasses in mailboxes – and we refuse to expose our donors to such abuse.

Besides, if the information we provide the public is true, does it matter who we are, where we're from or who our sponsors happen to be?

Ms.Francisco also suggested that we're preparing to "smear" Indiana teachers with "innuendo." We have never attacked, or even mentioned, any individual teachers. We know Michigan has thousands of terrific teachers, and we're sure Indiana can say the same.

The problem is with their corrupt and unscrupulous unions. We want to help free teachers from these organizations of ill repute, so they can be the true individual professionals they were trained to be.

Ms. Francisco should be aware that she's not heard the end of us. We're learning more about ISTA every day, and we're going to do our best to help Indiana residents better understand the self-serving, anti-reform agenda of their state's teachers union.

Steve Gunn, communications director

Education Action Group Foundation

Muskegon, MI

Karen Francisco, editorial page editor for The Journal Gazette, has been an Indiana journalist since 1981. She writes frequently about education for The Journal Gazette opinion pages and here, where she looks at the business, politics and science of learning as it relates to northeast Indiana, the state and the nation. She can be reached at 260-461-8206 or by e-mail at kfrancisco@jg.net.

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