Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace

Greetings All:

Many of you are aware of a recent editorial regarding the upcoming appointment of a Teacher Representative to the Board of Education. (You can view our response under correspondence from the president at our website It has come to my attention that Ambrose Bennett has asked the governor to block our request for my appointment to the BOE, and to allow him to stay on until the governor can find another candidate. I understand the concerns regarding my current position as Acting Vice-Principal, but the membership has voted and decided this matter already. Barring a constitutional restriction, it continues to be the position of the Association of Commonwealth Teachers that our president be our candidate for Teacher Representative to the BOE.

ACT has worked hard to limit the amount of negative publicity received this year, and we have been largely successful. However, this may be the time we must stand speak out. Otherwise, those who are more vocal may take it upon themselves to make the decision for you, which we have already made. We have voted more than once on this matter, so I know I'm following the path you have asked me to take. (I trust if I veer off course you will let me know!)

I do not agree with Mr. Davis's statement in the paper as taken from "Letter to the Editor: Two Issues" (Marianas Variety December 11, 2007)"...Other than Ambrose Bennett, am I the only person that has a problem with the idea that a school principal should be the teacher representative on the Board of Education? Does no one else believe that there is an inherent ethical dilemma and a serious conflict of interest? I’m sure Ms. Miller has the best intentions, but isn’t that what the road to hell is paved with? As a matter of integrity, Ms. Miller should withdraw from the election. If no one else is nominated and elected, then the teachers will have made obvious what they think of the office and the process."
JOHN H. DAVISFina Sisu, Saipan

In theory, I agree with Mr. Davis that the best candidate for Teacher Representative would be a classroom teacher. However, I do not view the fact that no candidates came forward as representative that “teachers have will have made obvious what they think of the office and the process.”

Another point of view may be that teachers have faith in my ability to continue to represent them will professionalism and integrity with the Board of Education and general public. It may be that they have looked at my actions and responses while serving as ACT President and “Acting Administrator” through setting up a teachers website, sending weekly updates to the membership, taking annual leave to speak on their behalf at every BOE meeting, organizing Pre-Election Round Table Discussions to raise awareness of the needs of PSS for our incoming legislature, organizing surveys regarding safety concerns in our schools, limiting the amount of negative publicity surrounding the organization, and felt satisfied with how I was representing them.

Please understand, I am not outlining all of the above because I feel that I deserve any sort of recognition or acknowledgement. These activities are my responsibility as President of the Association of Commonwealth Teachers. I outline these activities above as proof that I am (and have been since August) very capable of representing the needs of teachers while serving as an “acting Vice-Principal” in the public school system.

In the meantime, we look forward to continuing the positive relationship we have established with the Board of Education. I will continue to speak on your behalf regardless of the governor's decision as to who to appoint to the BOE. I welcome your comments and concerns, as I do with all teachers of the CNMI, and will continue to act upon those the membership feels are within their best interests.

I encourage you to speak out either through this blog, via e-mail, or the newspaper, should you feel so inclined. All I ask is you maintain a general level of respect for other points of view when writing. The last thing the public wants to read is teachers arguing amongst themselves...AGAIN!

Those wishing further information as to the history of this situation are more than welcome to contact us at or check out our website at

Betty Miller
ACT President

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