UPDATE: Olson-Jones wins, 816 to 124.
Tania Kappner, a teacher at Oakland Tech and a community organizer for the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action Integration Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), wants to lead the Oakland teachers union — a post currently held by two-term incumbent Betty Olson-Jones.
Voting has gone on all week, and ends at 6 p.m. Friday. If Olson-Jones defeats Kappner (who challenged her in 2008), this will be her last term.
Kappner is a regular at school board meetings, and her speeches about the state of public education are a staple, too. She uses the microphone as if it were a bullhorn at a rally, shouting passionately about the “privatization” of public education, school closures, racial inequity and, always, charter schools.
Privatization is also one of Olson-Jones’ favorite (or least favorite) terms. And like Kappner, the current OEA president is staunchly against charters. Under her leadership, the union opposed a tax that sought to raise teacher salaries — in large part, because the tuition-free, independently run schools would have benefited, too — and has stopped participating in a another parcel tax coalition for similar reasons.
You can read Olson-Jones’ “Vote for Betty” flier here. Below is an excerpt of Kappner’s campaign statement:
Because we have been so successful in uniting California to stand up and defend public education and the dignity and worth of our students and teachers, Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who is spearheading the attack against public education, is now trying to starve our state into submission by withholding federal funds and demanding complete subordination of our unions as the price we must pay for those desperately needed funds to be released. We can stop mass lay-offs and closures in predominantly Latina/o and black inner city districts and throughout our state, but only if we have a union leadership prepared to stand on principle, tell the truth, defy Duncan and the Democrats and continue to build this new movement on an independent basis.
Our union leadership will not be able to defeat this attack without launching our own counter offensive. But this means we must continue to find ways to give more power to our students and the whole new student movement that is coming forward, while playing a more prominent leadership role as a union. At the national level our union leaders are too scared or too disoriented because they remain completely tied to the Democrats to formulate a strategy to defeat Duncan. With-in the OEA, [Equal Opportunity Now] /BAMN has been the only groups prepared to empower our members over and against state or national union leaders, who will betray our union’s longstanding principles and immediate prospects for victory, if we give them the power to dictate our tactics and fail to act independently of them.
I have proven again and again in action, in deeds as well as words that I can and will organize our union to win. For me, defending public education is more important than avoiding open conflict with anyone prepared to let it go quickly or gradually. …
As your union President, I would do everything I could to make April 10 remembered as the day teachers and other unions called upon the nation to stand in defense of public education, and used our organizational power, knowhow and resources to get a million teachers and their supporters out marching to defeat this insane and unpopular attack against our students and communities. I would see that our main slogans Our Children Are Not for Sale, No More Separate and Unequal and Restore Dr. King’s Vision for America starting in Oakland and Extending Throughout California were known in every household. I would fight to win this great fight for justice, right here, right now. We did not elect America’s first black President to face greater inequality, hopelessness, cynicism and despair. We can win our fight to defend public education, but only if we have leaders bold enough to try.
If you elect me, I promise you, we will not fail. Too much is on the line. Give me your vote so that the best of who we are as teachers, as educators, and as the protectors of our students and communities can shine through.