Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Other ACT Members Respond (including Betty's personal opinion)

Greeting Collegues:

Below you will find the opinions expressed regarding the upcoming appointment of a Teacher Representative to the Board of Education. They are in no particular order, I just thought it might be helpful for members to see all the opinions compiled all in one place.

I have also included my personal thoughts, as a few members have expressed an interest in hearing my perspective. (As opposed to expressing what the membership has decided.)

Hilda Joyner…….I believe it's a "Conflict of Interest"

Name withheld at request of the member…….As a member of ACT who only believes in speaking when the urgency arises, I want to make it known that I, for one, support you to be our teacher rep. This is a no brainer in so far as Mr. Bennett has done nothing to represent anyone but himself, and now is no different. You have my vote and good luck. Keep doing a great job and keep the e-mails flowing. They really are appreciated.

Guadalupe Borja-Robinson….PLEASE stick with the program. You are doing a GREAT job and have the complete confidence of all the teachers I have spoken to.
In the words of a great naval commander "Damn the torpedoes, Full speed ahead".

Jim Rayphand….You certainly must be having fun...I think responses by Ron Mandell and Jaime Vergara together make a solid case for your dual role. I remember telling you that I thought you should not remain in contention for teacher rep. and admin, but I take it back. Maybe this sort of forged alliance between management and teachers is just what PSS needs at this time...I know I tried my best to eliminate any top-down notion of management while I was there...I hope that was evident. I am primarily concerned about the sheer volume of work you will need to juggle, but if you can handle with equal vigor on both ends then more power to you...I know I wouldn't have wanted to do both (slacker to the end); however, if anyone can do it, I suspect you are the one.

Also, I would stay amenable to members of Act revisiting the issue because I have heard mixed opinions about the issue from teachers throughout the community.

Name withheld.....You are doing an excellent job. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise. Forget about Ambrose and his agenda. Let him talk all he wants (in this case writes). He had his chance to make life better for teachers and well....
If you believe in what you are doing, then go for it.

Bryan Jones….To all ACT members ...
I still support Betty Miller as our president and "Do Not" want to
give the Governor any power to decide ACT's future.

Sam Joyner…….Please don't be's the frustrations talking) What difference does it make whose right or wrong? Let the record show that I am one of those teachers that your organization do not represent.... I do respect your views and you have done an excellent job....But its the type of stuff that discourages me and many others from involvement in ACT....You got 76 votes out of 500+ teachers.... that's the evidence.... The work that you are doing is exceptional... so why are teachers not responding? It's because ACT has been in fighting from the very start and everybody agree to disagree.... You are doing a great job with the technical stuff but the real issue is teacher unity or lack of.... You guys must figure out a way to agree, stop all this fighting and get pass contesting every step of progress.... Ok 76 teachers want you to stay and be the President of a teachers association and be the teachers representative... Let me ask you how do you feel about that? What do you want? What was your vote? dogs just don't represent cats... And cats are not presidents of dog organizations... It's just against the nature of things...against the grain.... At any rate you guys go ahead and fight and continue to drag down motivation and moral... But bottom line... this is not unity....Lastly... you can't remove a dark cloud with a dark cloud... You are doing a great job for the BOE because the very last thing that they wish to see is teacher unity....That would mean a voice which has no place in this school system...Its time for me to crawl back into my shell and close my mouth.... I have already said out of frustration more that I had intended.... You guys go head and fight tho... I will be over here watching with my popcorn and coke....

Valrick Welch…It has been my experience that principals are often the front line
Defense for the teachers. In Hawaii the board and commissioner are
more intimidated by certain principals than they are of the union. Our
former principal, Jim Rayphand, fought the commissioner and board over
the forced termination of employees. He basically told them if they
needed to fire someone they could fire him. I don't have a problem
with a principal being a teacher representative; especially one who
has spent more of their time as a teacher.

Ron Mandell…These are my thoughts on the subject. I was present at the ACT planning
meeting when it was first announced that you would possibily be offered the
position of Vice Principal at San Vicente Elementary. My first reaction at
that time was that this could be a real boon to the teachers you represent
in both your capacity as ACT President, and in your future capacity as
Teacher Rep to the Board of Ed. I continue to feel that way. Yes, at that
time the issue of a possible conflict of interest arose. . . (I believe you
brought it up yourself) . . ., however knowing your sense of integrity as
well as I do, I dismissed it out of hand.

In respect to your capacity as President of ACT, my feelings that your
appointment as an administrator would be an asset to the organization,
center around my observations over the last decade or so that a large number
of PSS teachers have been reluctant to become involved with ACT due to
intimidation - they feared that involvement with ACT might not be viewed as
"acceptable" or as "politically correct" by the powers that be - the Board
of Ed, the Commissioner of Ed, and/or their school principal. They feared
that to be identified with an "unpopular" cause (as defined by these
powers), might bring them into disfavor, which would have negative
repercussions on their careers, or even their very employment. In this
regard, my immediate thought was that your appointment as a school Vice
Principal would serve as a very clear indicator to PSS employees, and the
community at large that ACT (and its goals) was not only NOT out of favor
with the powers that be, but that the organization was now welcomed by them.

In regard to your position as Teacher Board of Ed Rep. . . I knew that
being an administrator would put you in the position of meeting with the
Commissioner of Ed on a regular basis, and in receipt of other daily input,
which would make you much better informed, and up-to-date than normal
teachers concerning new policies, procedures, directives, and shifts in
stance coming out of the office of the Commissioner and the Board of Ed. I
knew that this background knowledge would sharpen your input, and serve
teachers in good stead, in your dealing with the Board, while representing
them as a Board of Ed member.

I also felt that your position as an administrator would have another
positive impact upon your effectiveness as Teacher Rep to the Board - that
being, that it would serve to enhance your credibility with Board members.

In short, having just now read Commissioner Borja's comments on the
subject, I find that I am in total agreement with him regarding the positive
aspects of having a Board of Ed Teacher Rep, who is also an administrator.

Regarding faith in your ability to represent teachers on the Board. . .
Earlier this year, I happened to be in attendence at several BOE meeting
at which you were also present as ACT President, and you sold me. What I
mean to say is that these were not the first BOE meetings I had attended,
and thus, I speak with some background when I say that I was impressed by
the positive reception the Board gave both you and all of the input you
offered on the behalf of teachers. I was also impressed by the rapport I
observed between themselves and yourself, and the smooth way in which you
interacted with them. With an eye to achieving their eventual aims, I can't
think of anything teachers need more right now than this type of positive
interaction with the BOE.

Betty Miller….My Opinion (Not speaking for the membership, speaking from my heart) In theory, I believe a Teacher should speak on our behalf on the BOE. However, we live in reality. To me, it all comes down to "How do we want it to be?" Time and again we teachers have complained about having no voice to the BOE. Although we had a Teachers Representative, frustration rose over a lack of communication amongst teachers and this representative. Improved communications among teachers and ACT, have greatly assisted in building a more interactive and positive relationship with the BOE. This is exactly what we wanted. I would like to see this continue, regardless of who the governor appoints as a new Teacher Representative. No other candidates have come forward for this position. I believe I have effectively demonstrated my ability to balance my responsibilities as an administrator and President of the Association of Commonwealth Teachers. If at any time a perceived conflict of interest should arise, I will excuse myself from the discussion, and allow another member of the organization to speak on behalf of teachers during the public comment phase of the meeting.

In summary, I would like the opportunity to continue to speak on behalf of teachers to the BOE until such time as the membership desires to have someone else fulfill this role. I also assure you should the membership chose to meet or vote on this matter, I will graciously accept the desires of the membership without public conflict or controversy, as these types of interactions are detrimental to the progress of the organization and public perception of teachers as a whole.

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