“Team Unity” Divides and Conquers, Targets Laid Off Teachers

By Matthew Schneck, San Diego Early Middle College AR, Candidate for SDEA Board Seat #5

Yesterday, I received a postcard via US mail to my site advertising the incumbent slate of candidates. A week ago, Michelle Sanchez (VP-candidate and Garfield HS AR) wrote about a campaign postcard she received that oddly included her middle name. My postcard similarly followed that pattern, addressed to “Schneck, Matthew P.” It seemed odd that the incumbent slate, whom I’ve never spoken to before the election, would know my middle initial. I decided to ask my colleagues how their postcards were addressed, and a pattern emerged: all cards included middle names or parts of middle names that were given only to the District. But far more disturbing, the only people at my school who received postcards were those who received layoff notices in 2012. I did some outreach to friends at other schools, and they reported the same thing: the incumbent slate is sending campaign postcards only to teachers who got laid off.

Why is “Team Unity” (as the incumbent slate is calling themselves) targeting laid off teachers as their voter pool? That doesn’t seem very “uniting” to me. In fact, it seems like they’re exploiting the same divisions they created with the way they mishandled the concessions bargaining back in 2012.

And where are they getting the names used on the address labels? How did they know the names of previously laid-off educators? Using District or Union resources to campaign is explicitly forbidden by SDEA’s standing rules. On my school’s website, no middle names are posted; in fact, the counselor uses a different name altogether.

After taking roll, and seeing how my name was listed on the top, it hit me. PowerSchool! I asked the school secretary for an employee list from PowerSchool to confirm this. Sure enough, the names on the address labels match up exactly, down to the inconsistent formatting of middle names (some show in full, others abbreviated). The photos below document the violation.

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Additionally, the only way for their slate to target laid off teachers would have been by using a District or Union list from 2012. Either they have access to District or Union lists the rest of us don’t, or they used the list that SDUSD’s Human Resource Department sent to those of us who were laid off, where we were all cc’d and could see each other’s emails. But there is no way they could have used public resources and gotten that information — it’s not public.

For our campaign postcards, the Strong Union, Strong Contract team invested hours and manpower over the weekend to create address lists from publicly available information on school websites. It’s incredibly frustrating to be running a clean campaign and watch the other side cheat over and over again. It’s also incredibly frustrating to watch the people who currently run our Union continue to try to pit us against each other as newer vs. veteran teachers. But it makes me even more committed to fight for Union leadership who will be honest and fair, and who will actually work for unity, not just stick the word on a campaign flier.

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