SDEA Dec. Rep. Council Report: Lack of Transparency Continues

Here are the highlights from the Dec. 12 Rep. Council (for more detail, read below):

  • Member requests to have SDEA committee meeting times/dates made public fall on deaf ears with SDEA President Bill Freeman.
  • ARs got a “first reading” of significant proposed changes to SDEA’s Bylaws. These changes are designed to strip down the role of the SDEA Secretary and only the SDEA Secretary — a vocal Breakfast Clubber.
  • Despite protests by the SDEA President, Board and members, all five SDUSD School Board — all of whom our union has endorsed! — voted to bring 25 uncredentialed Teach for America teachers to our District. This vote took place at the same meeting where they approved at 2013-14 budget showing up to $55 million in layoffs this spring.
  • SDEA is planning accountability sessions with School Board members regarding the District’s current slew of Unfair Labor Practices — acts showing flagrant disregard for our rights under our contract and labor law.

Freeman Calls Committee Meetings Open, but Won’t Reveal When or Where

Perhaps the most significant thing at the December Rep. Council took place at the very end. Roosevelt AR Bobbe Abts, who at a previous Rep. Council unsuccessfully called for Bylaws changes to ensure consistent security measures for all elections, requested that all committee meetings’ dates and time be posted on the SDEA website. She explained that all members should have access to this information so we can observe any committee meeting. She would like to observe the committee meetings and has not been able to do so because the dates and times are nowhere to be found. Freeman stated that all committee meeting are open to all members… But in the next breath he stated that he would not post dates and time because the committee members work hard and they don’t want other union members who attend to publicize it afterward or “spread misinformation” about the meetings.

To call meetings “open to all members” but then refuse to tell the members when and where those meetings are, is beyond insulting. It became very evident that Freeman does not want “Breakfast Clubbers” at SDEA committee meetings. Whether Freeman likes it or not, “Breakfast Clubbers” are SDEA members and therefore have every right as any other SDEA member, including the right to access information and the right to share our opinions with our fellow union members. This sort of blatant disregard for our union’s democratic processes is at the core of why we were able to collect well over 1,000 signatures to recall SDEA’s current leadership, and while a recall vote is not happening right now, SDEA’s leadership would be remiss in writing 1,000+ members off as some kind of “fringe dissent group.” We join Bobbe Abts in calling for SDEA committee meetings to be publicized ahead of time so any union member who chooses can attend. Our union is a democracy, not an autocracy.

Bylaws Changes Target SDEA Secretary

Why should we care about whether or not we are told where and when “open” committee meetings are? Because these committees have charges as significant as recommending changes to our permanent union governance documents. At the Dec. Rep. Council, ARs were given our first read of the proposed Bylaws changes, recommended by the Bylaws Committee (just one of the many types of committee meetings we should all be able to choose to attend). The changes included a few typo corrections, but the vast majority focused on the SDEA Secretary position. We had been told previously that the Bylaws Committee would be reviewing all officer positions. However, the proposed changes shared at Rep. Council only focus only on the Secretary’s position — the position currently held by a vocal Breakfast Clubber, Michelle Sanchez. ARs are suppose to return to their sites and discuss the proposed changes, and then debate and vote on the changes at the January Rep. Council.  So make sure your site rep does this, and that your thoughts are taken back to Rep. Council in January.

Over SDEA Protests, the School Board is Bringing Teach for America to San Diego

After a 5-0 School Board vote, Teach for America (TFA) will be entering our District. At Rep. Council, SDEA leadership stated that we would have to stay vigilant to make sure that the terms of the TFA/SDUSD agreement will be followed. Part of the agreement stated that our temporary teachers in the District will have priority when vacancies arise, TFA teachers would be subject to RIFs, and that not all TFA teachers will be placed in the neediest schools. These are things that will be difficult to monitor, to say the least. What wasn’t clear was how prepared TFA teachers will be for the classroom… While it was said that they will receive an alternative credential and participate in BTSA, we don’t see how this could be accurate since you can’t start BTSA until after you have your preliminary credential already.  And no 5 week “intensive summer program” will earn you a preliminary credential.  What was clear is that SDEA leadership has not developed a plan to stop TFA from coming into ours schools, or a clear plan to ensure that our temporary contract and substitute teachers receive the respect and open positions they deserve .

SDEA to Hold School Board Accountability Sessions over ULPs

Due to the numerous Unfair Labor Practices (ULPs) currently being committed by SDUSD against our union, SDEA members will be participating in a series of accountability sessions to hold School Board members accountable for the District’s actions. We will also be there to remind them that SDEA endorsed/supported each School Board member. It is quite obviously that the School Board isn’t taking us seriously, so we need to show up and remind them that we still have fight in us to make sure that our contract is honored. SDEA currently has two accountability session set up on Tuesday, Dec. 18. The meeting with John Lee Evans will be held at UC High at 4:30 p.m., and the meeting with Marne Foster will be held at Millennial Tech at 5:00 p.m.  We hope to see many of you there!

The next SDEA Rep. Council is Jan. 16.

— by Emily Neidhard, Garfield AR

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