Earlier this week Garfield HS AR Emily Neidhart wrote about her first experience attending an SDEA accountability session with one of our School Board members, John Lee Evans (and it certainly wasn’t his first). It’s a great article, and you can read it HERE.
That same night, Tuesday, Dec. 18, I attended a concurrent SDEA accountability session with newly elected (and SDEA endorsed) School Board Member Marne Foster. With this one, the roles were reversed. As a four-time layoff recipient, I’ve been to dozens of these and seen the difference it makes. But this was Foster’s first accountability session, with about 20 SDEA members there to inform her of the many ULPs (Unfair Labor Practices that violate our union’s legal rights) that are currently being filed against SDUSD. This was an important opportunity to set the tone for our relationship with Foster, our newest employer, in the years ahead.
Many of the members shared personal stories of how the District’s ULPs impact their school sites, the students, and their colleagues. One issue we addressed was the District exceeding the hard cap of 36 students in a secondary classroom, which not only violates our contract, but keeps students from receiving the attention they need from their teachers in such large classes.
SDEA members also shared how the District’s refusal to honor our contractual nursing and counseling ratios impact the safety of our students. When sites have no nurses or counselors, what happens when there is an emergency?
SDEA members also informed Foster that the District has unilaterally stopped paying for BTSA for new teachers in our District — and in fact has begun charging them. Foster seemed unaware that this was a change and asked many questions to clarify.
SDEA members also shared with Foster that the voters of San Diego support our students, and that many of us campaigned and voted for Prop. 30 to ensure that our classroom teachers and school staff stay intact. In order to protect our school, voters expect no layoffs this spring. Just like Board Member Richard Barrera said at the Dec. 5 SDEA Board meeting, Foster also agreed to make sure that this year we would see no pink slips.
While Barrera’s and Foster’s promises are verbal and not written at this point, we certainly hope and expect that these two School Board members will stick to their word, do the right thing, and make sure that there is no Pink Slip Season this year.
Foster seemed to understand our members’ concerns. As a fellow unionist, Foster should understand the value and need for the SDUSD/SDEA contract to be honored and respected. In the end Foster agreed that there was no need for layoffs this year, she agreed to direct District staff to look into the ULPs of secondary class size, nurses and counselors ratios, BTSA fees, and retirement healthcare administration fees.
It’s good news that Foster — whom our union just successfully helped get elected — is saying she will keep her promises. But the best way to make sure that actually happens is by keeping the pressure on all of our Board members. There will be similar meetings with the remaining Board members (Barrera, Scott Barnett, and Kevin Beiser) in January. I’d encourage every member to attend at least one of these meetings. No one else will protect our contract, our jobs, or our paychecks for us.
— by Michelle Sanchez, SDEA Secretary