OEA elections: a new leader, more calls for change

It’s election week for the Oakland teachers union, and that has extra significance this year. Betty Olson-Jones, the Oakland teachers union president since 2006 (since I’ve been covering Oakland schools!), has reached her term limit. She’ll be succeeded by Mark Airgood or Trish Gorham, who are running to replace her.

Olson-Jones has endorsed Gorham — as well as Steve Neat, Chaz Garcia, Vincent Tolliver, Janan Apaydin, Manny Lopez and Andy Young for seats on the union’s executive board.

Ballots are due on Friday. You can find the complete list of OEA candidates and their statements here.

A year ago, I blogged about a small group of teachers called Oakland TIES (Oakland Teachers for Innovative and Equitable Schooling) that proposed a new set of priorities for the Oakland Education Association. Four of the candidates for the 16-member OEA executive board endorsed by TIES members were elected: Kei Swenson, Toni Morozumi, Benjie Achtenberg, and Isabel Toscano.

This time around, a group of four candidates with similar ideas as TIES (which is no longer very active) — namely, about shifting the union’s approach and embracing a diversity of viewpoints — has emerged: Mark Hurty, Cary Kaufman, Marva McInnis and Angela Badami. Emily Sacks, a Redwood Heights special education teacher whom I interviewed last year about TIES, said she is endorsing all four.

Hurty, a second-year teacher and career-changer, even created a website for his OEA campaign. He says he feels the union leadership needs to bring more light and less heat in its dealings with the OUSD administration, that it should be open to new ideas (from revamped teacher evaluations to an online voting system to encourage participation in OEA elections), and that it should stop trying to advance its cause by maligning those at the other side of the table.

“I want us to be the big kid in the room,” he said. “We have such high moral ground under us that we don’t need to resort to some of the dirty rhetoric that gets tossed around.” (When I asked him for an example, he cited the phrase “education deform.”)

Do you agree?

Last year, fewer than 900 of the roughly 2,500 OEA members voted — less than half, as you can see from the results. How do you think turnout could be improved?

Do you feel well represented by the union leadership?

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Oak Teach

    I am voting for Angela, Mark, Marva, and Cary. I do not feel represented by the union as it stands, and hope these ones win.

  • Parent stuck in OUSD

    Do I feel well represented by OEA as a parent? Hmmmm. Well, they are better at that than the district. But I do feel they fall back on old strategies, play old cards of battle. I think they actively participate and inflame the negative discourse between the two and widen the divide. Not as much as the district who seems to operate as it’s own, private entity as opposed to the PUBLIC entity it is. However, I do believe that they have done what they can to guard teachers and I do believe the better the working conditions–including “job security” (how unpopular!)—the better the results.

    I can’t help but notice that only one candidate identified themselves as a parent. From the few candidates I recognize, I know they are not parents.

    Where are the parents?

  • Mark Hurty

    I’m a parent. And when my kids were younger they attended OUSD schools. My older son now lives in Oakland with his wife. I want to work as a leader in the union to make the district better, not just for the kids in school today, but for those children who’ll be attending school here in the future. (In my dreams I’ll be a grandparent soon!)

    Great schools are built on the foundation of an empowered, respected, and professional teaching force. Our union leadership should be focused on assuring that the conditions in our classrooms reflect an acknowledgement of these values.

  • Nextset

    Katy – Can you run the stats on student enrollment at OUSD – in the last 40 years or so, how is enrollment doing? And the demographics if they are available?

    I’m wondering if there is a clear crisis on shrinking enrollment – or if the enrollment is dramatically changing demographically.

    If this is the case it would seem the union should be addressingh the meaning of this for the workers. So far I don’t think any of the factions in the union have done so.

  • J.R.

    More light,less heat…… a little idealistic, but I like that. Someone who looks to change and impact the future, I like that too. I can’t vote, but I will spread the word, Mark. I am trusting that you mean what you say because someone does need to be the adult in the room for the sake of the children.

  • Former Oakland Teacher

    When I was an Oakland teacher, I certainly felt under-represented by OEA. The divisive rhetoric employed by OEA leadership does very little to build bridges that our students & teachers need, and in my opinion might be the biggest stumbling block to progress in Oakland. To be honest, the way OEA leadership handles teacher “interests” was one of the primary reasons why I and many others became part of the 72% of teachers that leave OUSD in less than 5 years. I hope that can change.

    I have seen first hand many times how Mark Airgood (running for President vs Trish Gorham), Tania Kappner (running for First Vice President vs. Steve Neat), and Manny Lopez (running for seat 10 vs Cary Kaufman) all consistently speak in divisive terms and are unwilling to promote positive discussion on these issues. I am sure they are well-intentioned people and good teachers, but nevertheless, their attitudes and tactics have been drivers of the stalemate between OEA and OUSD.

    On the other hand, I have personally met Cary Kaufman and Marva McInnis on several occasions and find that both are respectful in conversations with others, regardless of their opinions. They are certainly forward-thinking teachers who will help take OEA on a more productive path through more reasoned rhetoric and a commitment to balancing student & teacher interests.

    I have not met Mark Hurty or Angela Badami, but I have read their materials and believe they will also act with integrity on the board, just like Cary & Marva will.

    Endorsements – driven by faith that these candidates will bring new, positive conversations to the OEA board, with the hope that OEA can become a key player in moving Oakland forward, rather than maintaining the (rather dreary) status quo.

    President – Trish Gorham
    VP – Steve Neat
    #6 – Angela Badami
    #8 – Marva McInnis
    #9 – Mark Hurty
    #10 – Cary Kaufman

  • Harold

    I wish we had something other than the status quo (Gorman), or BAMN (Airgood) to choose from.

  • J.R.

    Unfortunately it looks as though you are stuck with ultra militants, and the taxpayers can draw their own conclusions.

  • Catherine

    I sincerely hope whoever is elected works to make sure that teachers fulfill their contract to differentiate the curriculum UP as well as down the spectrum of learning. In the time my sons were in OUSD schools only two teachers in their entire education differentiated for gifted students who knew the material before the teachers “taught” it.

    Teachers, the union and principals make all sorts of excuses – they were not trained, they do not want to take classes, we should be happy our kids are bright, our kids were given these gifts from “GOD” and should use them to help others in the class, additional learning should go on outside of school, here are more math problems they can do after they finish the regular work, here are more spelling words they can write three times even though they scored 100% on the pretest and so on and so on.

    We don’t hear carpenters saying the company or the union did not train them on new equipment or new building techniques, nor do we hear attorneys saying they didn’t get a chance to sit in on the class about some new rulings and we don’t hear nurses saying that the hospital did not give them information about new screening techniques. These professionals seek professional development and perform what is their contractual duties to perform.

    Winners – contestants – please be fair to everyone and pledge that you will support excellent teaching AND fulfillment of the contractual obligations to differentiate for all students in your classes.

  • Betty Olson-Jones

    It’s unfortunate that most writers on this blog won’t identify themselves by name; it makes it hard to trust some of the comments, since they appear to be based on hearsay as opposed to fact. I wonder how many of the anonymous writers have any idea who is on the current OEA leadership team (which is very diverse, in terms of race, ethnicity, age, and outlook). I wonder how many have ever set foot in a union meeting or actually attended a union action. And with all due respect to the candidates, how many of the “progressive slate” have ever served on an OEA committee, attended an OEA function, or engaged in constructive dialogue with current leaders? As I’ve said to several of them, I welcome new leadership, and I think most would agree that I have consistently encouraged members to get involved in OEA in a variety of ways — by joining committees, attending Executive Board and Rep Council meetings, attending conferences, coming to OEA socials to get to know the people who are currently doing the work, etc. Unfortunately only one of the “progressive slate” candidates has shown any prior interest in OEA. It’s easy to throw stones at the people who are trying valiantly to defend our rights and the rights of our students in the face of both nationwide and local attacks, working overtime to try and organize our members, collaborate when appropriate with the district and fight back when they violate our contract. It’s a lot harder to join in the hard work.

  • PDD

    The low voter turnout among Oakland teachers has everything to do with a union that seems hell bent on advancing every radical agenda going. As an Oakland teacher I am infuriated by the OEA wasting time and resources in pontificating on international issues that have absolutely nothing to do with Oakland or the needs of our students and schools.

    Neither Airgood or Kappner are honest in their campaign literature about their involvement with BAMN. Their views are utterly unrepresentative of the majority of Oakland teachers and the people of Oakland who do not want a Trotskist revolution. Oakland schools and teachers would get a lot more support if it was made clear that our union was not being infiltrated and/or run by a small clique of America-hating extremists who use threats and intimidation to achieve their goals in the face of democratic decisions and procedures.

    A new generation of teachers is coming up with no connection to, nor desire to relive the glory days of the 1960s. We want ours to be a respected and well paid profession and realize that to do so requires a fundamental change in the practices and policies of teaching unions especially with regards to getting rid of incompetent teachers who hurt our profession and more impotently the students they are supposed to be teaching (as opposed to all often indoctrinating).

    I want an OEA president who, right off the bat, acknowledges that their election does not signify a ringing endorsement for all their ideas. Only a political extremist could see a turnout of 25% and a vote for them personally of about 60% of that tiny turnout as giving them any kind of democratic legitimacy – especially when it comes to making grandiose statements on behalf of all Oakland teachers.

  • PDD

    And where Miss Jones pray tell was the interest for Oakland teachers in the OEA’s decision to “condemn” Israel in its defense of its citizens against the genocidal thugs of Hamas?

    You have no business uttering such things when you and your other board members are elected by no more than about 15% of Oakland teachers. To speak on all our behalves in this and other matters shows a breathtaking arrogance.

    The average teacher does not have time to get involved in OEA matters because we are too busy trying to meet the day-to-day needs of our students. You might recognize this and perhaps temper your language, policies, and activities but I see no evidence of this so far.

  • Manny Lopez

    Experience matters. Period. Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. No time for dilly-dallying. No time for the next new thing. Too easy. Quickly lost anyway. I’ll take experience over romance any day of the week. Check it. At the end of the day, folks should err on the side of informed and relentless advocacy. That said, here’s to the new faces on the block sustaining a presence within the OEA from here on out. So not threatened.

  • PDD

    No Manny we’ve seen the history of the OEA over the last 10 years and we’re determined not to repeat it by ensuring that you have no position of power within the OEA.

    What you’re effectively saying is that only those co-opted by the OEA are fit to serve when what we need is a new leadership unencumbered by outdated and unrepresentative dogma.

    Oh and by the way what on Earth does a person standing for election against you have to do with you feeling “threatened”. Do you feel yourself entitled to a seat? Why is a challenger a threat? This is precisely the kind of divisive rhetoric that was pointed out by another poster above.

  • OEA Needs A Reboot

    I want to know why OEA still defends teachers who are really bad at their jobs.

    One such teacher teaches down the hall from me and the teacher’s ineffectiveness strains everyone: the kids, the teacher, the parents, the hallway, the administration. And when the principal evaluates this teacher out, OEA comes to the rescue.

    Why does OEA protect members, even if they’re really ineffective? Not fair for anyone, especially those of us who work hard and are good for kids.

    Betty Olsen says she is for kids but her actions prove that she is for adults, regardless of quality, performance, improvement, etc.

  • Janan Apaydin

    I’d like to address the perception that ‘the leadership’ of OEA is some monolithic, unchanging group of people with closed minds and a set agenda. It is true that there are some people who have worked in OEA and served in different leadership roles for a long time. It is also true that there are many new faces on the board. I think this mixture of experience in OEA over time is very important. It is good to have people who remember different people, events, experiences and have prior knowledge of the contract, the history, and the people involved. We would be lost without having some people with experience to guide and inform us. We face new challenges, new faces, and these are different times but in the end, things are not so different, and the purpose of OEA – to defend the rights of teachers- remains the same.

    I have just finished my 3rd year on the OEA board, and was active on the CAT team before that. Toni, Isabel, Benjie, Vince, Chaz, Rodney & Aimee (am I forgetting anyone?) have all joined the board since I began, I believe. We do have a great mix of experience in OEA, experience as teachers, grade levels represented, races & ethnicities, ages, gender – you name it. This board has been extremely civil, but not without a variety of opinions and perspectives, which is essential. It is a very dedicated group, doing lots of volunteer hours for all of us. I intend to keep working within OEA whether or not I retain my board seat. I hope others that have stepped up to run will become familiar faces in the organization.

    We have recently had a sea change on the board of sorts, where some people with outside affiliations who were more interested in pushing the agenda of their outside group on OEA members and not doing much work to really build OEA are currently off the board. I worry that this new slate of candidates is really here to do the work of a different organization and not OEA. I myself am here to work for teachers. That said, I feel all teachers inherently are interested in what is best for students, or we wouldn’t be teachers. Anyone constantly calling into question the professionalism of their colleagues should not be trusted to lead the organization that is there to protect (or strengthen) our rights as professionals to do our jobs with some modicum of dignity, benefits, and remuneration.

  • http://hurty.net Mark Hurty

    I appreciate Betty and Manny’s comments, and I agree that experience does matter. I appreciate the anger and frustration that the current OEA leadership must feel about the outcome of past negotiations. I understand why it’s difficult to trust the district administration. But having experience is one thing, and acting on that experience is another. The history that we are doomed to repeat, we have been predictably repeating for some time now.

    Effective strategies produce results, but the results of the strategies the union has employed in negotiations in the recent past have not produced results at the negotiating table. We have an imposed contract.

  • starshaped

    PDD, I find it disappointing that you feel like you have to attack a leader who is ACTUALLY doing something. Manny goes to school sites and helps ACTUAL teachers. Furthermore, OEA DOES NOT protect ‘bad’ teachers. It only protects DUE PROCESS. If you have a problem with a ‘bad’ teacher, that’s the job of your PRINCIPAL to fix, not the OEA. Also, who are you to judge who a ‘bad’ teacher is?

    Also, those individual who are running on a platform that is informed by the right wing propaganda machine of GOPS have done NOTHING in or for OEA. They are not involved in any committees or have tried to help out their fellow teachers in ANY tangible way. Yes, we need divergent voices in leadership of the union. We do not, however, need the meat puppets of GOPS pressing down their anti-teacher, anti-public school rhetoric.

  • Janan Apaydin

    So, Mark, what effective strategies are you proposing?

  • Observer

    Who are the BAMN candidates?

  • J.R.

    Can you ever cogitate ideas without the tiresome right wing boogeyman shtick. Many of these districts have underperformed for decades all on their own with rivers and streams of taxpayer money that hasn’t made much difference. Change will be found on an individual and cultural basis, once personal responsibility is regained. This culture of dependence is to blame, and your union, and people like you,Mr.Wright,Mr.Visnick are all enablers of anti-societal behavior(and or) norms:

    1. The OEA has taken a position against gang injunctions.

    2. Mr.Visnick has proclaimed that society is to blame for aberrant behavior -Quote” Our black young men in Oakland are collectively in deep distress. They are both victims of institutional racism and cause much of the discipline issues in our Oakland classrooms as a result of this oppression”.

    3. Regarding Mr.Wrights beliefs this was taken from SJ mercury “What seems to drive Wright is the belief that, despite rhetoric to the contrary, the same system that deliberately failed him more than 70 years ago remains in place today.

    “It was never intended to let American black people move up from the bottom of the ladder, no matter how often we prove ourselves,” he said.

    So we have(or have had) an AA President,Congressmen,Senators,judges,CEO’s, and so forth and things have not changed? There are differences in how hard the climb to success is, but success or failure is up to the individual(the facts of history are indisputable).

  • J.R.

    After reading the statements, I really can’t differentiate who the BAMN candidates are. No matter what happens, I guess BAMN wins! Shocking! Isn’t it?

  • Katy Murphy

    I know of two candidates who are also organizers with BAMN (The Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration, and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary): Mark Airgood (running for OEA president) and Tania Kappner (running for vice president).

  • Emily Sacks

    I appreciate many of the comments above and agree that there is something to be said for the wisdom that experience can bring. I also understand, however, that we have a serious crisis of participation in our union. I worry about how much of that is caused by the fact that people do not feel welcomed or like all viewpoints are respected when they attend union meetings. I know that at my first Rep Council meeting I personally had an experience that made me question whether I should ever attend again. It took a lot of strength and courage to show my face again and it continues to require strength and courage to stand up to others who may not always agree with my ideas and discount them, when they know very little about me, because I don’t have “experience.” This is not the way to encourage people, especially newer teachers, to become actively engaged.

    While some of those running seem to have not much “experience” with OEA I encourage people to think about whether their decision to run for Executive Board could have come out of a similar experience of attempting to become engaged and feeling unwelcome. It could very well be that in an effort to avoid making others feel this way, certain people are interested in running. As far as I understand, any teacher in the district is eligible to be on the Executive Board and there is no amount of service time to OEA required in order to run.

    I have nothing but respect for many of the candidates running for Executive Board. I truly value the commitment and experience of all of the teachers involved in OEA. I want to put out there that I am also endorsing Trish Gorham and Steve Neat. I thought long and hard and struggled to make endorsements. For seat #9, for example, I find Janan Apaydin exactly the kind of veteran teacher that newer teachers need to meet and learn from. She is welcoming, a good listener, kind, and respectful. In making a final decision, however, I was concerned about a 16-seat Executive might be 3/16 occupied by teachers from the same school (Kaiser Elementary, if Trish and Steve both won). I think Mark Hurty, though a newer teacher, would bring excellent perspective to the table as a former OUSD student and parent. I understand that politics are complicated but I also hope we can avoid slinging insults at each other during this election season and all be glad that we at least have enough interest to make these races competitive.

  • starshaped

    J.R.,do you ever tire of saying ignorant things? There is a concerted effort by the Koch Brothers, Eli Broad, and the Walton Family AND the money used to set up was given by the family behind Dryers whose ONLY goal is to destroy public schools using hand wringing progressives (i.e. conservatives in liberal clothing). The teachers that are part of that group ARE effectively the meat puppets of the right’s attack on unions and public workers. OPEN YOUR EYES!!

    Emily, I like you as a person, but I know Mark Hurdy has not been a part of OEA in any way in the last few years. He could have helped with CAT team, but he hasn’t. He could be part of bargaining, but he isn’t. He could have been involved ALL YEAR BUT HAS DONE NOTHING!!! I’m sure he works really hard for his students and is an excellent advocate and teacher but you have to put the hard work in first.

    In fact Emily, why aren’t you running for the board? You are, in fact, a person who I would support in a run for eboard because YOU DO put in the hard work. Malva, who violently yelled at our president, is exactly who we DON’T need on the board. You have tied yourself who want to the world and they want it now, and frankly, that isn’t going to work on the board. I believe, even if half of these GOPS people get on the board, they won’t show up on time or stay or put in the work because they DON’T KNOW how much work it takes.

    As far as the board having too many Kaiser people, guess what? That is the ONLY school that show up to things on a regular basis and involve themselves in the union and various committees. It’s very easy to complain from the sidelines. It’s a different story when you’re actually playing the game.

  • J.R.

    That covers the last 10-15 years, what about before that? Was it their fault that kids have been under-educated for 3-4 decades(functional illiterates, and low grad rates)? If the system had not failed the children, there would never have been an opportunity for Broad,Gates, Koch’s or anyone else to step in(I am not denying that they are stepping in, but who gave them that opportunity)? You are in deep denial of the historical evidence. As long as the check in in the mail, some people just don’t care!

  • David Laub

    To all OEA teachers who are disturbed by the anti-union, anti-public service worker kinds of remarks. DON’T GET SUCKED INTO THE PURPOSE OF THIS BLOG TOPIC WHICH IS TO TRY TO POLITIC OUR UNION BUSINESS AND ELECTION. Responding to this garbage will only unsettle your senses. OUR ELECTION IS FIRST AND FOREMOST OUR OWN UNION BUSINESS. Let this blog run it’s usual hot air and ill will towards honest workers and true educators. It is a no win situation responding to closed minds and big mouths.

  • del

    It is a no-win situation trying to convince closed minds and big mouths, but clearly some of those closed minds and big mouths belong to union members as well. Starshaped claiming that the teachers running against incumbents are “GOP Meatpuppets” is a personal attack and insult to people who seem to have the best interests of kids in mind. That, I believe, is the knee jerk antagonism that has failed to get any results for the union OR the students for years.
    I do not know ANY of these people personally but I do know this: the union has not benefited its members or its students for years. If the leaders of ANY organization have not done anything positive for the organization, then they should be changed. Experience means nothing if it has not learned from its failures. The last time there were contract negotiations, the union demanded a 20% raise when the entire state was cutting its budgets 10%. The district tried to pass a parcel tax that would have directly benefited teacher salaries, but that was opposed by the union and voted down. What did the “experienced” leaders do to rectify these disastrous decisions that greatly impacted the public’s view of the union?

  • J.R.

    Thank you for posting some facts about union and district blunders. Now, because open-minded people deal in facts some links to back up those facts(re: the raise, and other issues):



  • starshaped

    David Laub is right, this is none of public’s business. This is union business. I just wish the public keep out of it, including GOPS.

  • del

    I believe very strongly that sunshine is the best disinfectant. As a teacher & administrator, I always welcomed the public (in a non-disruptive way) to see what’s really going on in schools. A club running things behind closed doors will always be a problem whether it is the senate, school board, PTA, or OEA. And since the OEA is a union of public employees, payed by public money and working in public schools, I think the public should know. I agree that they should not worry about what anonymous, non voting non members say (including myself) but if the OEA or anyone else has anything to hide (besides legally private information) then we will indeed have problems.

  • del

    One last quick note (oh the joys of being retired)…. I do have a horse in this race. They are my grandchildren, who like myself and my children attend Oakland public schools. The OEA, the district, school admin, janitors, secretaries and my neighbors all have the same ideal in mind: what is best for children. We may not always agree 100% what is best, or how to get there, but we all have the best possible education for these children as our goal. That is my assumption and argument and perhaps not all will agree but certainly if there is anyone involved in education who does not want what is best for students they should remove themselves from their job or be removed by some other party.
    One thing I will say that should also be self-evident is that we need to work together to arrive at a point where the children get what they need. I’ve seen countless divorces that ruin kids because the parents work against each other. I see a country being torn asunder because two political parties refuse to work together. The founding fathers said it best : divided we fall (or fail).
    For these reasons I think that the Union vs District attitude has to change. Certainly there will be disagreements and there is a history of bad feeling on both sides. But if what we care most about is the kids we will put the past behind us for their benefit. (Heck the article cited above is from 2003… kindergarteners than are in high school now).
    For this reason I find some of the rhetoric here and else where scary. I found this quote on Mark Airgood’s campaign flyer: “Collaboration gets us nowhere.” I do not know Mr. Airgood & I sympathize with the frustration of those who give their all every day for the kids, but that is simply not how we move forward in any arena. That attitude would lead to failure in business, government, or family. And in education, when adults fight, kids lose.

  • Angela Badami

    First, a huge thanks to all who have endorsed and encouraged me during this “campaign season.” I would also like to thank all past and current OEA leaders for devoting your time and efforts to teacher working conditions and the academic achievement of OUSD’s students. Finally, thank you to Katy Murphy for opening up your blog to such an important conversation about OEA leadership.

    I would like to explain what motivated me to run for a seat on the Executive Board and why it seems as though I have been absent from OEA functions until recently. Although only one of our “progressive slate”
    of candidates has been formally involved in OEA business, it does not mean that the others of us are oblivious to the issues affecting
    students and teachers. There are various reasons teachers do not join OEA committees or attend OEA functions. For me, it was credential classes, working the after-school program at Westlake, preparing
    differentiated ELA, Math, Science and Social Studies lesson for my SDC class, and making sure that my IEP caseload was finished. This school year has been my 3rd in an SDC classroom (5th overall) and I am more
    in control of my practice than ever before. I have finished my Level 1 credential and am now able to devote some time to help guide policy for our district. I have attended various OEA meetings and functions during this school year. Some examples are the Nov. 2nd General Strike, Mutual Matching forum, OEA contract convention, and the Tribune-sponsored TSA forum. Being part of these meetings inspired me to become more involved in OEA business and I believe I have some good ideas about how to get even more teachers involved. I want OEA members, the district, and the citizens of Oakland to respect our union and to view it as a place where positive, pro-active, student-centered ideas are not only welcomed, but are embraced. I hope to have the opportunity to express my ideas and guide policy as a member of the Executive Board. If I do not end up on the Executive Board, I will continue to be present at union functions and be a voice for my students, myself, and like-minded teachers who may not be able to attend.

    One final clarification: I am not affiliated with “GOPS” (do you mean GO Public Schools?), nor any other educational non-profit.

  • Kaiser Parent


    You’re not the only one who is concerned with the representation from one school! When a parent is looking for a good fit for their kindergartner (and we all know what harrowing experience doing that is in Oakland) one considers many positives and negatives to compare and contrast between schools. It never occurs to one to look at the union standings of the teachers at a school. No wonder the district has it in for our school and is constantly trying shut it down in spite of it’s success. So many things did not make sense before this. I feel like someone just turned the lights on.

    I support the union while not agreeing with everything it does or does not do. I support these three teachers and, indeed, have been hugely impressed with their work ethic. We tend to think of the heavily union invested folks as protecting their hours. I and any parent at Kaiser can attest that our teachers have not seen a 40 hour, weekends off work week—-maybe ever? Certainly not this year!

  • Witness to confrontation

    Starshaped, I have tried to stay out of this discussion, because I have been to union meetings and found them extremely uncomfortable. I am not anxious to get involved in this debate. But, I am assuming you are talking about Ms. McInnis, who you call “Malva” in your commentary. I was at the meeting where she confronted Ms. Olson. What I saw was not violent. What I saw was another frustrated teacher who was unsatisfied with her representation to had the courage to confront our union president. Yes, there were were raised voices and emotion, but there was nothing violent about it. I have heard lots of loud, negative statements come out of the mouth of Betty, Manny and the others, and at times I’ve even found it intimidating. But no one has accused them of being “violent.” Perhaps you choose the word violent because it came from a black woman who confronted a white woman. But I hardly think its fair to use that word. If this is what happens when somebody stands up to our current union leaders, I can understand why so many stay away. I’m routing for Marva and the other new people. We need someone who is not afraid to challenge the status quo.

  • PDD

    Yes Starshaped anyone who opposes the current ineffective and dogmatic policies of the OEA has to be a GOP puppet don’t they? You might not have noticed by most people are firmly in the center politically and this is where the OEA needs to be to gain public support for public education.

    If all you can resort to is consipracy-theory fueled personal attacks then its quite clear that engaging in any kind of substantive argument with you is utterly pointless much like many of your so-called arguments.

  • PDD

    Oh and to answer your question from earlier Starshaped.

    I am allowed to judge people just like you seem to feel free to judge people it’s just that I don’t do it while spewing invective, insinuation, and leaving my caps key on.

    A bad teacher is one with no classroom control. A bad teacher is one with no plan. A bad teacher is one that accepts low performance. A bad teacher is one with no technological skills. A bad teacher is one who milks the system and hides behind what you call “due process” to protect their position at the expense of their students. None of these things of course are things that the OEA seems to worry about. Remind me again how many tenured teachers have been dismissed from OUSD in the last year or even 10 years?



    You’re a hero–“The last time there were contract negotiations, the union demanded a 20% raise when the entire state was cutting its budgets 10%. The district tried to pass a parcel tax that would have directly benefited teacher salaries, but that was opposed by the union and voted down. What did the “experienced” leaders do to rectify these disastrous decisions that greatly impacted the public’s view of the union?”

    OEA is a mess. You’re so right about experience–it should disqualify one from running for union leadership.

  • Steve

    Marva McInnis no longer has my vote. I downloaded her flyer posted through Mark Hurty’s web page in the file menu, Document Properties and it clearly states that it was authored by the pro charter Go Public Schools. Talk about meddling in OEA.

  • J.R.

    I want my dues back,
    Some people earnestly believe that you should stick with what has been working “Oh,so well”, over the last few decades(just look at the results). That is what I call being insulated from reality(Einstein would call it insanity).

  • former ousdteacher

    This has been the healthiest thread on this blog in a while with people actually discussing real ideas and concerns. Real disagreement. Agenda-driven rhetoric on the backburner. Refreshing.

    >.OEA DOES NOT protect ‘bad’ teachers. It only protects DUE PROCESS. If you have a problem with a ‘bad’ teacher, that’s the job of your PRINCIPAL to fix, not the OEA.<>Also, who are you to judge who a ‘bad’ teacher is?<>The last time there were contract negotiations, the union demanded a 20% raise when the entire state was cutting its budgets 10%.<>I found this quote on Mark Airgood’s campaign flyer: “Collaboration gets us nowhere.”<> I sympathize with the frustration of those who give their all every day for the kids, but that is simply not how we move forward in any arena. That attitude would lead to failure in business, government, or family. And in education, when adults fight, kids lose.<<

    Well said.

  • former ousdteacher

    The arrows must have messed it up. Here’s what I said

    “OEA DOES NOT protect ‘bad’ teachers. It only protects DUE PROCESS. If you have a problem with a ‘bad’ teacher, that’s the job of your PRINCIPAL to fix, not the OEA.”

    I’ve got a beach house in Kansas to sell you…

    Reminds me of a conversation I had with my cousin who is a defense attorney. I always chided him about the idiots he represented. His answer was always that the system is set up in a way that if everybody did their job correctly the truth would prevail. It wasn’t until he got sick and stopped working that he confided in me how dirty he felt getting people off who were obviously “nutso”. I wonder if it’s a similar feeling at OEA sometimes. They probably spend most of their time defending the crazies. Most of the good teachers are rarely in need of support outside of making sure they get the best possible contract without bankrupting the system.

    “Also, who are you to judge who a ‘bad’ teacher is?”

    If our teachers don’t know the difference between a good teacher and a bad teacher… our children have no chance. Really.

    “The last time there were contract negotiations, the union demanded a 20% raise when the entire state was cutting its budgets 10%.”

    That’s funny.

    “I found this quote on Mark Airgood’s campaign flyer: “Collaboration gets us nowhere.”

    That’s funny.

    “I sympathize with the frustration of those who give their all every day for the kids, but that is simply not how we move forward in any arena. That attitude would lead to failure in business, government, or family. And in education, when adults fight, kids lose.”

    Well said.

  • Teacherman

    I understand that the executive board refuses to meet with Tony Smith. What’s up with that? When did the OEA become “the party of no”?

  • Manny Lopez

    Really? Can you find that in the minutes?

  • Manny Lopez

    About to go night-night but for the record should state that I have never shied away from meeting with just about anyone, Broad, Gates, and Rhee included (if only to give them a piece of my mind), and have said as much as long as I can remember. I am what I am what I am or something to that effect. Thank you Popeye.

  • Marva McInnis


    I have never made a secret of my GO participation. I admire their work and support their efforts to help improve OUSD. Yes, I did use the GO computers to type my flyer, as it has publishing software that I do not have at home. If the fact that I exercise my right to free association and support community organizations that participate in the effort to improve Oakland Schools is something you find intolerable, then I’ll simply have to live with the loss of your vote. I do not abide guilt by association.

  • Let’s Get Real

    Let us please not forget the purpose of a union, OEA or otherwise.

    Labor union: An association, combination, or organization of employees who band together to secure favorable wages, improved working conditions, and better work hours, and to resolve grievances against employers.

    It is unbelievable to me that unions, which came about to protect workers (including teachers) from abusive treatment from employers, are being vilified the way they are today, and their purpose twisted. This makes the very existence–and strengthening–of unions even
    more crucial.

    Teachers’ unions are not to blame for low achievement in Oakland or anywhere else. If students who come to school with “issues” (and we have many) are to be successful, supports have to be in place where they are needed. In many schools, they are not. Even “rock star” teachers need the right supports and conditions to be effective. In contract negotiations, teachers have fought hard with district officials to create or maintain those conditions. Unfortunately, for students as well as teachers, it has often been a losing battle.

    It almost feels like I’m being politically incorrect to point out that teachers–especially during a period when they’re being attacked from all directions–need an institution that can focus on ensuring their fair treatment. That’s okay. Being PC is not one of my strengths anyway. My OEA votes will be cast for candidates who understand the purpose and the value of our union and who will work to make it stronger.

  • Mark Hurty

    @Let’s Get Real,

    I agree with you. A strong union is a union which works to serve all it’s members. A strong union is a union in which all members actively participate. A strong union is a union who’s leaders speak with a unifying voice. A strong union employs negotiating strategies that secure the rights and benefits that its members deserve. A strong union protects its members from injustice.

    The challenge for our leadership is to stare down that vilification you mention without becoming embittered. Those who vilify public employee unions are chipping away at public opinion, and in some instances, we’re helping them by allowing ourselves to get pulled into pyrrhic battles. We’ve got to stop swinging at pitches in the dirt.

  • Let’s Get Real

    @ Mark:

    Sometimes, merely speaking the truth can sound like it’s coming from a place of bitterness because of the dirt it exposes.

    Playing nice only works when you’re dealing with those who have respect for you. Oakland teachers are not in the best position right now, but past bargaining team members can tell you what position we COULD be in if we let our guard down with district officials.

  • Rodney Brown

    This thread’s headline is misleading and irresponsible. Last year 4-5 teachers got together, called themselves Oakland TIES, and conducted a survey that 100 teachers took. That exercise was no more “a call for change” from our members than this year’s election. Playing musical EBoard seats does not address this district’s decreasing enrollment and OEA’s declining membership.

    FormerOaklandTeacher in post#6 names 3 names as if any three members and/or elected members, or any 4-5 member splinter group, or any 4 candidate slate will ever be the sole voice of OEA membership or leadership. This entire slate could win and discover that OEA Executive Board is a recommendation body to the Site Representative Council. If this “call for change” were authentic and not rhetoric based then it would be driven by actual, current, and consistent participation within OEA and not eleventh hour candidacies for elected positions.