Saturday, December 16, 2006

CTA failed Angelides--and the kids of California

by Maura Larkins

Phil Angelides says, "If everyone had done what CTA did in the last election, it would have made a world of difference. You were soldiers. You were lions. And I'll be forever grateful for everything you did."

The problem for Angelides is not what California Teachers Association does at election time, it's what CTA doesn't do the rest of the time.

CTA sabotages the efforts of creative teachers and parents to bring about real reform. CTA makes sure that loyalty, not interest in fixing education, determines not only who rises in its organization, but who is allowed on committees in the district.

In Chula Vista Elementary School District, the Chula Vista Educators (teacher union) board of directors on Nov. 18, 2002 rubber-stamped CTA Executive Director Tim O'Neill's recommendation that "The CVE Board of Directors BE GIVEN THE AUTHORITY TO REMOVE representatives..." Tim O'Neill disingenuously claimed that "It is impossible to predict the circumstances that would result in the removal of a CVE representative to the PAR Joint Committee..." The truth was, he knew exactly whom he wanted to remove. He and others had arranged the removal of Joyce Abrams because they wanted her replaced by a more loyal union member. Joyce Abrams was outraged, and wrote scathing letters about CVE bigwigs Jim Groth and Gina Boyd. Abrams was absolutely right in saying that Jim Groth and Gina Boyd have little respect for CVE rules (she would have been right if she had added that they don't respect the laws of California, either). The problem is that Joyce Abrams helped Tim, Jim and Gina cover-up much more serious actions against another teacher. So who needs to start practicing what she preaches, Joyce?

The Fred Kamper case in Mountain Empire School District

by Maura Larkins

You sometimes wonder if the inmates are running the asylum.

Mountain Empire School District is a case in point. It's hard to tell whether it was the school board, its lawyers, or the teachers union that was most responsible in November 2006 for putting on the school board a man who can't keep enough space between himself and schoolgirls in his care.

The superintendent of Mountain Empire SD is Patrick Judd. He seems to be a problem magnet. (He moonlights as a board member in the troubled Chula Vista Elementary School District.)

Mountain Empire employee Fred Kamper was demoted from his position as principal when his lips "accidentally brushed" a girl's arm. Then he "inappropriately" touched a nine-year-old student who was sitting in his lap.

Daniel Shinoff, a lawyer for both Mountain Empire district, denied that Kamper was guilty, but nevertheless paid the girl's family $30,000. Why would he give away tens of thousands of tax dollars if there was no wrongdoing? Why did he get Kamper to agree to resign? It sure smells like wrondoing to me.

Months after the settlement and resignation, Kamper was elected board member with the help of California Teachers Association. Why would CTA endorse such a person? Part of the answer is that Fred Kamper was a former president of the CTA local affiliate, and CTA defends its local affiliate presidents, no matter what. (CTA also supported abusive and lawbreaking CTA leaders in Chula Vista. And none other than Pat Judd joined CTA in helping those Chula Vista leaders get away with wrongdoing.)

It seems that board members and union leaders seldom agree, but when they do, they are defending teachers and administrators from outraged parents.