If I'm ever sued, this site will go up for sale for the amount of damages sought, along with posting any documents I receive. If you think you can copyright a letter you send to me, go for it.
I'm still learning about blog design and I've found a problem when viewing this blog. It does not behave properly in small browser windows and if your display resolution is less than 1280 pixels wide and/or you are viewing the blog in a window less than 980 pixels blog wide, the right side bar is pushed below any visible post. I've searched the web and looked at the code for hours but can't find the problem. My next step, when I get the time, is to recreate the blog with a new template. Advice is appreciated.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Indiana Teachers Are Asking: HOW, WHO and WHY?.

It's a sad story and it's hard to feel anything but sympathy for the affected teachers in Indiana. I've traveled a bit and as a group, it's difficult to find a nicer, more honest and harder working people than those from the Midwest. Add to that, these are professional teachers and regardless of my disagreements with the way our kids are taught, I don't question the good intentions and dedication of the majority of teachers.

I'm not privy to many of the details of regarding the Indiana State Teachers Association (ISTA) Insurance Trust $60 or $70 million dollar shortage but regardless of how nice and well-intentioned the directors of ISTA were, they are still responsible for a catastrophe that will affect many people for many years. Sorry, you wanted the job and you were responsible. To the members: Sorry, we're all adults and you were the members. At some point, we have to say CAVEAT EMPTOR.

The HOW & WHY of the debacle are pretty simple: it's a lot of money and not everyone in the world believes in the old fashioned Midwest values of honesty and hard work. When you give you money to crooks, you lose it.

I have read nothing that would lead me to believe that anyone with ISTA was dishonest or did anything illegal; instead it seems to be their very values that betrayed them - there are people who will look you in the eye, shake your hand, give their word and stab you in the back! If you're too naive to understand that simple fact, shame on you.

The word I hear is that it's likely member dues will have to be raised in order to recover from the shortage. What the member chooses is an individual decision and it is a fact, the individual member will have little or no say for up to 18 months, the maximum length of time ISTA can remain in National Education Association (NEA) trusteeship. I have no doubt that in time, the union will recover and hopefully it will be no more that a (very) expensive lesson.

The WHO is a very sad story. I have no doubt that every ISTA official responsible was a dedicated educator who's biggest mistake was to trust someone else to take care of the members money and the members trusted their officials. The hard lesson learned is that EVERY MEMBER has an obligation to watch every penny and not sit back and leave the job to someone else. While we sympathize we must still acknowledge those responsible:


Nathan Schnellenberger,

A high school science teacher from Forest Park Jr-Sr High School, Nate has been an Indiana public school teacher for 33 years. Before becoming ISTA President, he served as ISTA treasurer and as a member of the NEA Board of Directors. Nate and his wife Beth have two children.


Teresa Meredith,
Vice President

A kindergarten teacher at Thomas A. Hendricks Elementary, Teresa has taught in Indiana's public schools for 18 years. She also serves as chair of the Indiana Foundation for the Improvement of Education (IFIE). Teresa and her husband Chris have four children.


Kathy Parks,

A language arts teacher at Gibson Southern High School with 38 years in the classroom, Kathy has long been involved in ISTA. Before her election as ISTA treasurer, she served on the NEA Board of Directors. Currently she serves as chair of the NEA Women's Issues Committee.


There may even be an actual bad guy in a black hat. From the Indiana Economic Digest, May 26th, 2009:

"But the lack of investment expertise on its board left the ISTA trust especially vulnerable to the volatile markets and the rapid-fire trades of the trust's broker, Morgan Stanley's David Karandos. During a nine-month stretch last year, Karandos made 4,000 trades involving the ISTA trust's investments."

It's a good read that I recommend for all union members
(& investors of any ilk). My opinion: Mr. Karandos is scum and it's time to revive an old Midwest tradition: tarred, feathered and run out of town on a rail!

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