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Re: AFT official speaks out...

Dear Kris:

I am the NEA.

I am a full-time teacher (with a combination first/second grade this year). I am president of my local union, and have been for enough years that one of my most important tasks is to develop new leaders to take my place. I am one of about one thousand teachers who hold some kind of statewide leadership position in the California Teachers Association, an affiliate of the NEA. And I have been a delegate to the last several Representative Assemblies of the NEA, where the union annually sets its policy, and where I have successfully introduced resolutions, new business items, and amendments to the legislative program dealing with assessment and particularly with high stakes testing.

I'm a little tired right now because I've just returned from a weekend away from home at CTA's State Council, where we debated policy and took positions on legislation affecting everything from student safety to career and technical education. I apologize for not remembering where you work and what you do. Do you teach in a state with collective bargaining? Teachers in my district have prep periods because of a union contract, and without the contract our superintendent would take them away immediately. Under California's class size reduction program, primary classes are limited to 20 students. That's a lot bigger than it should be, but without CTA that law would have been changed last year to allow at least four more students in each class. Teachers who allow students to read Huckleberry Finn and Harry Potter are protected by the union from firing. We could make a list a hundred items long, but it is no exaggeration to say that every right teachers have came either through collective bargaining or through the union's legislative action.

Of course a union has to be accountable to its members. No other large-scale institution in America, including our government at the state and federal levels, is nearly as democratic as the union to which I belong.

I am the NEA, and so are 2.7 million other teachers and school employees.

At 04:08 AM 3/28/2004 -0500, Kristina Pelletier wrote:
I am not wanting to bash teacher unions like the AFT and NEA, but I am having a
hard time figuring out how they are working for teachers. It seems like they
are using teachers for their organizational purposes. Why is the AFT interested
in "accountability and raising standards for students and teachers alike"? When
did it become the unions role to work on reform that will hold teachers
accountable to the system? I'm probably not making much sense. My point is,
teachers should be holding the union accountable, and not the other way

I would like to understand how ANY teachers union has improved the professional
conditions for educators. If anyone has an example, I would love to here it.

George Sheridan
Northside School
Cool, California 95614