Dec 8, 2008

Newspaper refuses to ask tough questions of anti-union zealot and rightwing activist

The Livingston County Press & Argus still refuses to ask any tough questions of anti-union zealot and rightwing activist Chet Zarko.

I hesitate to even blog about this because this guy absolutely craves seeing his name in print, no matter where it appears. I almost think his ego is the driving force behinds this witch-hunt, but I doubt he does anything for free.

The newspaper chose to take an AP story on the court case involving the Wayne-Westland Community Schools district and compare it to Zarko’s witch hunt. A Wayne County Circuit Judge has sided with the Michigan Education Association (MEA) to stop the Wayne-Westland district from releasing union-related e-mails sought under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

The case is similar to the one Zarko stated back in May 2007 when he submitted a FOIA request on a fishing expedition to get ammunition to smear the Howell teacher’s union with. That case also has been appealed.

The article says,
“He (Zarko) said he expects to find communications about a small percentage of teachers who wanted to accept an additional 1 percent pay increase on top of what was offered instead of the union-affiliated health benefits, which was a sticking point during negotiations and resulted in HEA protests at school board meetings. This is a matter facing many school districts in Michigan, he said.”

The question has to be asked, who cares? Unions are the most democratic organization in the workforce. The union leaders negotiate the contract, and the members vote on it. Each member gets one vote. Tell me, what’s more democratic than that? Why does it matter what the “small percentage of teachers” wanted? The majority of voters wanted something different.

I initially thought this was just an attack on unions, public schools and teachers. Granted, it is, but it appears to be a bigger, coordinated attack on the MEA. Zarko has steadfastly refused to say who is paying him, but clearly somebody is.

The article talked about some vague sounding group called the “Education Action Group.” The paper called it “an organization seeking school spending reform. “ But what it really is, is a Republican front group dedicated to destroying public education and pushing vouchers, something Michigan voters strongly rejected a few years ago.

Its run by former Michigan Republican Party (MRP) staffer Kyle Olson and MRP lawyer Eric Doster. I don’t know how closely Zarko is associated with this front group, but the reporter should have asked.


Not Anonymous said...

"yawn" Same old same old. Beat the drum for the unions, hide the truth and worry about who may be paying for someone to put information out. Let me be clear. I don't care if a Republican organization is paying to get the truth out. I don't see you complaining about the union paying to hide the E-mails. But then, that would be intellectually honest and that aint going to happen.

Communications guru said...

Perhaps you can show me where any truth is being hidden. School boards, township boards, village councils and city councils are allowed to go into closed session to talk about union contracts under the Open Meetings Act. I have no idea why unions can't have the same privilege. But like I said about five times now, release them anyway. You're dam right I'm not "complaining about the union paying to hide the emails." That's' because it's their money, and their elected leadership making the decisions. No one voted for Zarko or this shadow EAG group.

I am questioning Zarko's motives, - which are anti-public education and union busting - and I will continue to do so.

Not Anonymous said...

It is NOT anti-public education. Public education is the worst form of education in this country. Private education and home education have much better records at graduating students with an education. There is no dispute on this. I don't know of anyone that wants to see the public education system eliminated. I do however have no truck with demanding that the public education system improving their system. Unions are a hindrance to that education system. If you're going to continue to have unions, the priority should be education of the students. Unfortunately, today that's not the case.

bluzie said...

Public education is the great equalizer for the children of our country. The children of Livingston County who have gone through our school system have received good educations. Our teacher's children go to our schools as well.
The unions of our country are the working men and women of our country who educate our children, build our roads, our buildings and yes our automobiles.
The anti-union sentiment is just plain un-American in my book.
You are working to undermine the wages, the health care and pensions of Americans and I promise you sir, in 2010 the Republican party will be irrelevant if they continue on this anti union rant.
You better start using that USA chant for the working men and women of our country or we will be in a very different world than we are today and it won't be a postive change.

Not Anonymous said...

The great equalizer? I'm not even going to touch that one. There's just too many things about mediocrity that I could say about that comment, so I'll let it go. Instead, I'll ask another question. I keep hearing liberals talk about the "working men and women". Can you tell me who the men and women are that are not workers?

Not Anonymous said...

I'm not surprised that my question has gone unanswered. It's odd though that the blog creator has been absent for at least as long as Bluzy has been absent. Did he get tired of using the Dargo name and create another?

Communications guru said...

Sorry, it is anti-public education. Public education is the best form of education. It does not discriminate on the basis of income, physical disability, race, religion or academic ability, and they educate every single child. There is no dispute on this. Who would even consider seeing the public education system eliminated for even a passing second? Unions are not a hindrance to that education system. Unions are also about professional development and improvement.

Not Anonymous said...

Interesting comments. By your words, I'm left to assume that homeschooling and private schooling do discriminate on those criteria you list. Homeschooling does not discriminate on the basis of income. In fact, if anything they are discriminated against. Homeschoolers pay for their own education by their parents. In the meantime, the parents, who don't have their children in the public school system are still required to pay for public education. Private schools don't discriminate based on income either. They have a tuition. If you can pay it, you can enroll. Again, in the meantime, the parents of those that attend private school must still pay for public schools.

Physical disability: I don't know of any homeschooled parent that discriminates against their children just because they have a disability. I can't find one example of a private school keeping someone out because they have a disability.

Race, religion: I have yet to hear of a homeschooled parent that has refused to teach their child at home because that child might be of a different race. In fact, I don't know of any homeschooled parents that have children that are of a different race. Now, I suppose that if they adopted, for instance a chinese child, and refused to school that child at home, others would be hard pressed to say they are refusing to teach them because of race. Same thing with religion. I don't know of any homeschooled parents that choose not to school their own children because they are a different religion than the parents.

Regarding private schools and race and relgion, I don't know of any private school that says a child can't attend because they are of a different race. I believe that's illegal if it did happen. As for religion, if someone is a Baptist, would they really enroll their child in a CAtholic school? I doubt it. I suppose it could happen, but again, I have heard of no instances where a school refused to admit a child because of their religion. I'd love to see an example of this if one exists. I'd then make a comment on the facts as reported in the site you might provide.

However, public education does discriminate against religion. No more prayer in school since, what? 1965? Christmas break is no longer Christmas break, but rather winter break. Easter vacation is now Spring break. Halloween is celebrated and advocated, but not Christmas or Easter. Evolution is taught, but not faith. On and on.

Some private schools do have academic requirements. They are schools for the gifted. They are designed for special needs children who are far ahead of their peers.

Finally, there is study after study showing that the quality of education coming from public schools is inferior to home and private schooling. What you're doing is repeating the mantra that the public education system puts out without any basis in fact.

There is absolutely no dispute that public education falls far short of home and private schooling. Say it as loud as you like, as often as you like, but you have no facts to back up your assertion. A simple google search by typing in Public education vs homeschool education will give you numerous studies showing you the facts.

Anonymous said...

Well, "not", I'm going to have to disagree with you. I don't see how public education discriminates against religion.

First, I prayed in school all the time. I prayed that the teacher would call off a test; I prayed that this one hot girl would sit next to one ever stopped me from praying. Usually, they didn't even know. More seriously, there are prayer groups in many schools. But they are voluntary and not a structured part of class.

So there isn't organized prayer and I'm fine with that. My church and my family take care of that fine, thank you very much.

Some people worry about religion interferring with schools, which is an understandable fear. But I join many of the Founding Fathers (and some of the leading Puritans) in the worry that government schools will mess with religion.

Although many (not all) of our Founding Fathers were Christians, they were wary of a Christian nation. They did, however, like the idea of a nation that believed in God, however. They also saw the excesses of government religion in England and the rest of Europe and wanted no part of it.

The prayer in school argument is a red is the push to post the Ten Commandments. Why would we force them to be posted in schools when most churches don't post them? (I know; I've checked.)

Not Anonymous said...


Perhaps I didn't state my case well. I'll give you an example. My wife used to run a child care out of our home. One day, one of the children returned to the house after school was out, as she did every day after school, until her parents got out of work and picked her up.

One day, this little girl came in crying. When asked what was wrong, she said that they were told to draw a picture of what Christmas meant to them. She drew a manger scene.

The teacher hung up all of the pictures on the wall in the hallway except for this girls picture. The teacher told the girl that she couldn't draw religious pictures in school and made her draw another picture. The little girl drew a Santa Claus and it was hung up in the hallway with the other pictures. I asked this girl if I could see her picture of the manger scene. She couldn't show it to me. This is why she was crying. Her teacher, when telling her that the picture was inappropriate, tore the picture up in front of her.

That was the extreme to what I've seen in public schools. There have been more subtle things, but that was the most extreme.

Communications guru said...

You have to be joking, unknown troll. First, you’re giving me a hard time for not answering quickly enough? Sorry, I have two jobs. I have not been absent. I have put up a front page post everyday. That’s more important than answering the questions of an unknown troll. Second, someone who posts anonymously and refuses to even take ownership with a screen name is accusing me of being somebody else? Give me a break. Here’s the thing, anyone can post as anonymous or not anonymous. Only one person in the world can post as Communications Guru, Bluzie or Dargo. If I wanted to post as someone else, I would just post as anonymous like you.

To answer your question, anyone who lives off a paycheck they earn with their labor.

Communications guru said...

There is no doubt that private schools discriminate. Some people who choose not to send their child to school and home school do so because they may not want to send their child to public school to be around some group. There are very few schools or home school parents who discriminate anymore, but some private schools will not accept handicap children, children who can’t afford the tuition or maybe even restrict on the basis of religion. Public schools educate all students, and they do an excellent job of it. Private and home schooling are good options, but public school is the great equalizer. My children have all graduated, but I understand I still have a responsibility to pay for educating children. An educated workforce is an economic engine.

Public education discriminates against religion? Are you serious? There’s this thing called separation of church and state. Ever heard of it? The government cannot endorse a certain religion. Why can’t it be Hanukkah beak? If you think Christmas is not celebrated in public schools, then you have never been to one. I graduated from high school in 1976, and I never remember Easter being celebrated in school.

I am a strong supporter of public education, and it has bettered the lives of millions of people. Education is not just for the rich. Again, if there are so many studies showing the inferiority of public education, why don’t you provide one?

Communications guru said...

Nice tale about the little girl crying about a manger scene. I’m not buying into it.

Anonymous said...

I've got to agree with mcbluster about the crying girl. Those are the types of stories that circulate around the Internet, usually with far more myth than fact.

I do know that untrained, over-reactive schools have sometimes gone too far to keep the image of separation of church and state. But ripping up a child's piece of art? Unlikely, at best.

Look, Howell was stupid with a 30 percent rule that stopped a German choir from performing its normal show. Common sense should have prevailed. But generally Christians and religious types aren't discriminated in schools and, when and if they are, someone (often the ACLU) steps in.

I have talked to Christians who said they were discriminated against because schools wouldn't teach that homosexuality was a sin. That's not discrimination in my humble opinion.