Polski3's View from Here

Quote of some personal revelence: "Is a dream a lie, that don't come true, or is it something worse?"

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Talk to Teachers? Not Barbara Kerr, CTA President!

Boy, was I shocked this evening when I read my local newspaper! It seems that the President of the California Teachers Association, Ms. Barbara Kerr, was here visiting my hometown. But that was yesterday. The rank and file members of CTA who teach here were never told our state union President was going to be here. I would have liked to ask her a question or two. But aside from that, I believe it would have been nice for her to visit some of us teachers who have been teaching since 30 June, 2003, without a contract. IS it too much to expect, from the President of the State Teachers Association, to say a few words of encouragement to her members who have been maintaining our professionalism in our classrooms, busting our buns to try to move our students forward towards those black hole of doom NCLB requirements/expectations, worrying about health insurance coverage for our families, taking a big hit in our take home pay due to a lack of progress in the contract negotiations and still have to pay a Union dues increase each year ? I guess so. She did have time to talk to those members of local school boards who were invited to hear her speak and visit with her. She did have time to talk to the presidents of the local CTA affiliates who were invited to the local union fortress (aka, Uniserve Office) to meet with her. BUT to take even ten minutes to talk to any of the rank and file members ? No, she did not have time, or maybe, just maybe, she did not WANT to talk to us ?
It is sad and frustrating, that this union does not seem to care much for its rank and file members. Will I vote for Ms. Kern if she runs for another term as President of CTA ? NO. But then again, I did not vote for her at all. IN FACT, I was not even allowed to participate in the selection of candidates, the "election" of union officers or anything else hinting at this CTA/NEA being a democratic organization.
Years ago, during my first full-time teaching job in the wilderness of Northeastern Arizona, our local, the northeastern-most in the whole state, was visited by the President of Arizona Education Association, Dennis Van Roekel. I greatly appreciated and admired Dennis for making the trip up to see us and listen to our comments and concerns. It was a seven hour, (one way) drive from Phoenix to get to Red Mesa, AZ. It was great that Dennis took that much time to come visit us. And, he knew what classroom teachers were facing every day; he was not too long out of his classroom at Paradise Valley and into the job of President of AEA. IF you are familiar with the politics of the national teachers unions, you may know that Dennis Van Roekel is about to become President of NEA. I did not get to vote for Dennis either. BUT, he did take the time and make the effort to talk to his rank and file members. Something Barbara Kerr of CTA should learn.
Oh, and what questions was I planning to ask her ? I would of asked her to address the issue of a lack of democracy in CTA; why can't we, the rank and file members, elect our union officers or even have a say in approving any union dues increases. I would have asked her why CTA forced our local association to change our by-laws and constitution to make us a less democratic organization and to make it much more difficult for the rank and file members to hold local union leaders accountable for their actions or lack of actions. (This topic will be discussed in an upcoming blog, so stay tuned to THE VIEW FROM HERE if you are interested)
Thanks for reading my blog. You comments are welcome!