Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Elect Craig Gordon

Re-Elect Craig Gordon 

for OEA Board Seat #4 

OEA members face a stark choice: Continue to hope that collaboration with administration and Democratic “allies” enable us to save public schools in Oakland or begin to fight hard for the resources students and teachers need for quality education for all.

I began teaching in Oakland in 1990. For five years I focused exclusively on developing as a classroom teacher and didn’t get involved in OEA. So I understand why union activity is a low priority for many of our members, especially new teachers. Nevertheless, we must now engage many more members if public education is to survive in Oakland. But even if we get more members involved, the question remains: What must OEA do to defend and improve public schools?

Some in OEA, including my opponent in this election, emphasize OEA collaboration with the district.  This approach suggests that OEA should convey our views and rely on district administration and promises to make needed changes. I strongly disagree.  I greatly respect OEA’s participants in the recent Quality Teaching task forces and convention (and I have participated in other OUSD task forces), but we should have no illusions that such meetings will bring concrete change. 

Reliance on collaboration has left OEA unprepared to fight cuts that have worsened conditions in our schools for years.  Has collaboration brought a raise, restored counselors, nurses, librarians, or assured current class size limits for next year? Only last year's one-day strike slowed the district’s plans to increase class size. Even with the recent withdrawal of most pink slips, 95 layoffs remain, more than 350 certificated positions are slated for elimination, and Adult Education, serving 25,000 people—parents of our pre-K through 12 students—has been destroyed.

It’s particularly important now to have leaders who clearly understand that—despite sincere-sounding claims to the contrary—District administration is not on our side. The privatizers in GO Public Schools are cultivating members to lead our union into more collaboration with those decimating our union, our schools, and our students’ futures. Our members have a clear choice in this election: 

Ø      Either collaborate with the privatizers or fight ongoing cuts, increasing class size, and violations of the OEA contract.  

Ø      Either accept excuses that “the money isn’t there” or join efforts to build a campaign for a bailout of public schools and services instead of banks and corporations.

Throughout history, each movement for social justice has been derided as crazy. Then the tide turns: some people fight back, a critical mass grows, and suddenly abolition, women’s suffrage, desegregation, and stopping of a war are accepted as common sense. Today we are told that to demand what students and teachers need is “unrealistic,” and that we must accept the “new normal” of worsening educational conditions. But growing numbers of people around the U.S. and the world are fighting back, saying, “no, we won’t pay for the banks crisis.” The choice is ours.  

Also endorsing :  Mark Rendon for 2nd VP / Mark Airgood for Treasurer
Tania Kappner for E-Board Seat 1 / Vincent Tolliver for E-Board Seat 5

A few accomplishments as an OEA leader and activist, E-Board member and Site Rep:
Co-founded the oaklandteachers listserve in 2006/ Initiated and supported efforts to maximize bargaining transparency / Led OEA’s effort to protect rights and educational conditions in new small schools / Co-authored OEA’s Create Success Vision/ Have helped lead the Schools-Not-Banks campaign and actions and the campaign to make large Oakland-based corporations pay for public education / Led fight to save Paul Robeson High School / Have vigorously and effectively represented many members at my site and others/ Pushed for legal challenge to Results Based Budgeting /Led fight to defend seniority and rights of consolidated teachers

I welcome your ideas and questions about how OEA can move forward. Please email me at