Group of parents wanted by the teachers’ union – Courant de la côte nord
Newly discovered emails reveal that the California Teachers Association engaged in research, some have called it spying, on the local bipartisan parent association group.
Originally centered on the San Dieguito Union High School District, the Parents’ Association was founded in late 2020 to reopen schools when most public schools were closed due to the pandemic.
The nonprofit PA group expanded almost immediately to include parents representing the San Diego County Unified School Districts of Carlsbad, Oceanside, Poway, San Marcos, and Vista, and is now a nationwide organization. of the state that supports and helps to empower parents as the best advocates for their children. .
In February 2021, the group successfully challenged union efforts to keep schools closed by taking legal action to reopen them.
“We are parents who knew extended school closures were bad for kids,” AP co-founder and San Dieguito chapter director Allison Stratton wrote in an email. “We knew that at the time and we were certainly right.
“We weren’t organized before the pandemic, and we certainly didn’t have any money in our coffers. We have come together to fight for the lives of our children.
Today, these Parent Association efforts extend well beyond pandemic-related school closures and mask mandates.
The AP advocates for members of independent school boards to put students’ needs first, something AP organizers say unions are not doing.
Teachers’ unions defend teachers, not students. Sometimes these interests overlap, but certainly not always.
Whatever his personal leanings, it is nevertheless a remarkable story of how desperate the CTA and local teachers’ unions were to fight an organized effort by parents to defend the interests of their children.
The California Teachers Association was established in 1863 and is one of the largest and strongest teachers’ unions in the state with more than 300,000 members, according to the CTA’s website.
Union money is often used to influence the election of union-backed school board candidates, who then support pro-union policies and spending.
After controlling the school board for decades, the San Dieguito Teachers Association union became agitated when voters elected three independent members of the San Dieguito District Council in 2020 who were not endorsed by the union.
The involvement of the parents’ association in supporting these three (out of five) independent trustees, and the PA’s successful lawsuit to reopen the schools, have apparently caught the attention of the CTA.
In emails provided to the PA through a public records request, CTA strategic research specialist Ann Swinburn emailed San Dieguito residents and union allies asking assistance in obtaining information about the parents’ association.
“Thank you for reaching out,” replied attorney Michele Macosky, whose office is located in Carmel Valley. “We have collected information and would be very happy to share/collaborate.”
She then asked if other parents could join in the discussion.
Swinburn replied, “As long as it’s people you all trust, I’m fine.”
San Dieguito activists Heather Dugdale, Holly Butte and Adam Fischer (listed in the leaked emails as reported and linked by the New York Post) were then asked to connect with Swinburn and Macosky via a live meeting.
The purpose of the meeting, according to Macosky’s email, was to “share information” and find out “some of the ideological orientation of the groups that fund the reopening of the prosecution.”
Email requests for comment went unanswered at the time of publication from Dugdale, Macosky and Swinburn.
The story, covered by numerous outlets, “went viral,” said AP co-founder Stratton. “It captured the outrage parents feel knowing that a political organization conspired against parents who knew schools could and should have opened in the fall of 2020.”
“We have been horrified at the extent to which the CTA and its allies slander parents who defend the welfare of their children,” said Parents’ Association co-founder and executive director Ginny Merrifield. “The long-term school closures have exposed how little the union cares about children.”
Merrifield and Stratton said they believed the CTA was trying to uncover any connection between the parents’ association and far-right ideology.
Merrifield said the AP had no ties to any political group and parents only wanted to look out for their children’s best interests and get them back to school.
“Parents want nothing more than to have a seat at the table,” she said. “They want a school board that represents the interests of the family and doesn’t just rubber stamp the union agenda.
Parents united and came together and created a threat to the union agenda, she said. And that “has a chilling effect” on public education.
Lance Christensen, candidate for California’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, said in a statement on his homepage, “Conducting opposition research is standard practice in political campaigns. But the fact that the teachers’ union is devoting staff to politically targeting mothers and fathers protecting their own children and voicing their First Amendment rights is both surprising and disgusting.
“Embedded special interests have used their war chests over the past two and a half years to intimidate and threaten anyone who dares challenge their ineffectual rule over public education. This must stop.
“The school closures demanded by these unions have single-handedly resulted in decades of learning loss, declining public school enrollment and the lowest literacy rate in the nation. Good teachers in California want to focus on reading and writing, not on swashbuckling that further divides our communities.
Christensen is running against current Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, who is backed by the union.
Parents weren’t represented before, when all was ‘good’ and school board members were aligned with unions, Merrifield said, pointing out that independent school board members pose a threat to unions and are more important than ever.
In San Dieguito, the loss of the union-backed council majority was a fierce union goal, which parents’ association leaders say led to orchestrated efforts to destabilize the district and employ tactics aimed at disrupt board meetings and reframe issues.
In 2020, the San Dieguito school board “transitioned from a body that had long had a majority of trustees backed by the teachers’ union to a body with a majority not backed by the union,” reported a 2 July in The San Diego Union-Tribune.
Duncan Brown, president of the San Dieguito teachers’ union, said in the Union-Tribune article, “The union is not responsible for the district’s continuing problems.
His quote from that article, which essentially admits that the union and its allies are indeed responsible for the unrest in the district, says it best: “When we don’t have candidates who see things the same way (as the union), we have the chaos that we are seeing now.
Marsha Sutton is a local educational journalist and opinion columnist. It can be attached to suttonmarsha[at]gmail.com.
The columns represent the views of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the ownership or management of North Coast Current.
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