By Jenny Rivera, SDEA Board member/Dailard AR
Something odd seemed to be going on at SDUSD school board meeting on Nov. 19, 2013. When I checked the agenda posted online, I noticed that Up For Ed was slated to receive a Proclamation from our school board singing the praises of the recipients. Well, was this the same board that told our union members that groups that support the idea of using the Parent Trigger to convert our schools to charter schools (featured on Up for Ed’s website) have no place using our districts resources for their agenda? Were these the same board members who sought and received endorsements from SDEA? Yet, they are praising a group that does not support our union and would like a seat (but are fortunately denied that, at this point) at the bargaining table negotiating our contract? I had to see this for myself!
When the time came, school board member Scott Barnett actually walked off of the dais and spoke at the public’s podium, to his fellow board members, praising Up for Ed. He stated that all five board members had already signed the Proclamation. He requested that they join him for a photo with Up for Ed members, although they did not do that. Several Up for Ed people spoke about their group.
SDEA President Bill Freeman also spoke, saying, “I am not here to speak against this Proclamation” but to ask for inclusion of other parent groups that do good work within our district systems, such as PTA, SSC or SGT. I was a little taken aback by the fact that he didn’t demand that these politicians, whom we helped to elect, and who have repeatedly promised our membership that they do not support Up for Ed’s anti-union agenda, immediately denounce the Proclamation. Our membership has made it abundantly clear that this is what we expect.
As you may remember, back in October the Rep. Council unanimously passed a motion I made that was directed towards our school board members. In essence, the resolution requests that the board quit playing both sides of the fence. If they stand with SDEA and are against outside groups, sponsored by Parent Revolution or San Diegans 4 Great Schools (remember them?) gaining a foothold in our district, then they must stop encouraging, praising and enabling Up for Ed’s presence within our schools. We have well established parent groups working side by side with our teachers. Let us strengthen these bonds and move forward together. On the other hand, if the board wants to continue to actively promote groups associated with the parent trigger law, we as a union must let the board know how destructive that relationship can be. It is also something we must seriously keep in mind as we enter into contract negotiations with the district.
I raised my concerns at the next SDEA Board meeting, asking why we hadn’t complied with Rep. Council’s direction that we present our own resolution about Up for Ed to the school board?
A significant amount of time had passed since we passed the resolution at Rep Council so I pushed for a specific time to present our resolution to the district. During discussions with Freeman, I kept getting the feeling I was being discouraged from moving forward with the resolution. But no matter. I attended the SDUSD board meeting Tuesday, Dec. 2, to present our Rep Council’s resolution. Freeman and SDEA board members Ramon Espinal and Shane Parmely also attended. When we were called up to speak during the public comments, Freeman spoke about a different matter and then sat down. Espinal stood off to the side as he waited to speak about our resolution. Parmely took a few pictures and then stood behind me. We must continue to show the SDUSD Board members that SDEA is a strong and united Union that absolutely expects SDUSD to support their teachers and students. Together we are stronger.
Note: Here are video links of Jenny Rivera and Shane Parmely’s addresses to the school board: