— By Dan Pugh, SDEA Member
At a recent meeting held at my site, several SDEA members voiced an interest in hearing from The Breakfast Club. Though some didn’t support what was occurring with the Breakfast Club, they expressed interest in someone coming out and discussing the group’s history and current activities. I contacted Breakfast Club co-founder Shane Parmely and she was kind enough to agree to come to a potentially hostile meeting.
The meeting turned out to be a very positive experience. Those that were most vocal against the group didn’t attend though notification was placed in the bulletin and even personal invitations/notifications given. The teachers that did attend asked thoughtful questions and had a wide variety of knowledge about the current state of affairs in SDUSD. End of story, right?
No. The story just began! About two days later I was informed by the principal that SDEA President Bill Freeman (himself) had placed a call to her stating that it was not appropriate (my words) to have put notice of the meeting in the bulletin. It wasn’t clear whether he also objected to the fact that we were “allowed” to meet on campus in the first place. This was in light of the meeting being held after contract hours and in the professional development room (not a classroom). The principal was supportive as she had believed it to be a way to hear alternative views and that we had that right. Unfortunately our current union president doesn’t share her beliefs regarding free speech and professional courtesy.
A question keeps occurring to me. How is it that the president of the union, in these most tumultuous times of continued salary reductions and an overall assault on professional rights, considers a personal phone call of this nature a priority? Why didn’t he contact me as a fellow union member instead of seeming to abridge my rights and complain directly to my administrator? This meeting was a request on the part of teachers at my site. It was not called to further my personal agenda nor even to be a regular occurrence. Where is our voice that represents the true nature of a democratic group and supports a healthy debate of policies? How will we make the necessary changes to advance our profession and education as a whole?
Our current union leadership is obviously not that advocate for us. It appears we are in desperate need of a change. True leadership is required now so that real priorities are discussed and decisions are made to better us collectively!