The CEA delegate assembly is in Denver this weekend. It’s no secret that I’m supporting Jody Dosher for CEA President. Jody was one of the founders of the R.A.V.E. caucus (Re-igniting Association Values for Educators). In the R.A.V.E. caucus we strive to bring social movement unionism to the people of Colorado. We work hard to unite teachers, parents, students and citizens across Colorado as we tear down corporate education reform and rebuild, bringing equity and democracy back to our public schools, with communities leading the way.
At R.A.V.E. we hope to serve as a catalyst and a model for locals and our state affiliate to shift from business model unionism to social movement unionism. We are incredibly lucky to have this opportunity, this weekend at the delegate assembly, to vote into office a president for our state NEA affiliate, CEA. Jody Dosher has my vote for CEA president. He not only believes in social movement unionism, he acts on it. I was with Jody in Nashville this year at NCUEA where he introduced three NBIs which included allowing teachers to inform parents of opt out, amending IDEA to require families of special education students to be informed of all their options – including opt out, and finally, supporting teachers who refuse to administer these high stakes tests. All three NBIs passed at NCUEA and now Jody will introduce them at the CEA delegate assembly, asking for member support to move these forward through our state affiliate.
If elected, Jody Dosher will lead a social movement union by looking to us, the members, for direction.
These are indeed hopeful times.
Often I get asked – what is the difference between business model unionism and social movement unionism? In order to answer the question, I would first ask each of my readers to look within themselves. What does the union feel like within you – as, you, are the union? What does the union look like, and sound like, in your own personal life, and how does it reside as an entity within your own school building? Social movement unionism has a strong presence in the schools and educates teachers to stand up for their communities, their students and for themselves.
Teachers become what Henry Giroux has termed public intellectuals. He states: To deny educators the opportunity to assume the role of public intellectuals is to prevent teachers from gaining control over the conditions of the work, denying them the right to "push at the frontiers, to worry the edges of the human imagination, to conjure beauty from the most unexpected things, to find magic in places where others never thought to look," and to model what it means for intellectuals to exhibit civic courage by giving education a central role in constructing a world that is more just, equitable and democratic in dark times.
Lois Weiner states it well here: The ideal of social movement unionism relieves you from needing to know all the answers when you are elected to union office. Your job is to mobilize the membership and revitalize the union’s organization so that members tell officers what to do.
An example of social movement unionism could be seen with bargaining which would start at the local building level. Each building would share their vision of what they want and need for teachers and students. These visions would then go to the bargaining committee and this committee would create a list of demands that would then be given to the members for a vote.
Business model unionism focuses mainly on bread and butter issues. Members only get involved when voting on contracts, electing officers, and goals are typically focused mainly on members’ immediate economic issues, versus moving out into a movement that incorporates our concerns for our communities, and ultimately our nation and our world.
Bill Fletcher explains social movement unionism here: In a social movement union on the other hand, the union derives strength from its ability to mobilize members to struggle on their own behalf. Power comes from the bottom up, as it does in social movements, and the union’s organizational form is just as important as its purpose. Within a social movement union, the members’ self-interest would be broadly defined – going beyond immediate economic and contractual concerns. Such a union struggles for its members’ stake in creating a democratic and equitable society, and allies itself with other movements also working for social justice, peace, and equality.
Right now across the country new unionism is indeed being reborn. Educators are tearing down the business model union through caucus work, creating a base that is working its way up to rebuilding our unions at the local, state and national levels. We can see it best by simply turning to Chicago and CTU. But here in Colorado, R.A.V.E. planted the seed this year and created a solid base of Colorado citizens who unite AFT, NEA, parents, teachers, students and community members to exemplify a social movement union. Jody supported our work and his candidacy for CEA President gives me great hope to imagine what CEA could look like a year from now, and how that leadership could help transform our locals.
Unfortunately, CEA has been highly involved with groups who are engaged in destroying the teaching profession, privatizing public education, and weakening our unions. It’s important to take a step back and look at what has occurred under our current CEA president’s leadership. The following examples exemplify business model unionism. Within a business model union, union officials appear to have a seat at the table with the politicians. Sadly, this seat at the table is aiding in the dismantling of our teaching profession, our public schools, and our unions. Business model unionism is not about children.
Here are a few examples of Kerrie Dallman’s involvement with other organizations who support the corporate education reform. These are simply facts to consider when casting your vote on Saturday.
Under Kerrie Dallman’s leadership, in October of 2014, CEA gave Raising Colorado $50,000 leading up to the elections. The director of Raising Colorado is a DFER. Jen Walmer, the director, is the registered agent for Raising Colorado, an independent expenditure committee affiliated with DEFER. DFER worked hard to ram SB191 down the throats of legislators and teachers.
Kerrie Dallman was also selected as a “prestigious Aspen Teacher Leader fellow” for the Aspen-Bellwether Institute Teacher Leader Fellows Programs. The Aspen Institute has received close to 60 million dollars from Bill and Melinda Gates to promote Gates’ policies, and Gates’ policies are being used to privatize public education and destroy the teaching profession.
Kerrie Dallman supported inBloom. inBloom was a data-mining extravaganza which came very close to being a reality here in Colorado and would have allowed student data to be shared with for-profit vendors. The amount of data inBloom would have collected was insane – 400 data points on each child, including sensitive information: names, addresses, test scores, grades, economic and racial status, as well as detailed special education, immigration and disciplinary records. A detailed profile would follow a child through his/her educational career and could indeed narrow a child’s opportunities within school and after graduation. inBloom also was considering charging vendors for access to the data – which is comparable to selling children’s data or renting it out. Parents worked hard to shut down inBloom and they succeeded. They were watching out for their children.
Finally, the horrific SB191 teacher evaluation process which Colorado teachers have had to endure this year was crafted by Senator Johnston, with recommendations from Kerrie Dallman. Granted, she expressed some opposition to SB191 , however, she co-authored a Denver post article with Senator Johnston titled Giving Colorado’s teacher evaluation bill time to succeed. Succeed? This bill is an absolute failure. There will be no success for children, teachers or public education via SB191. SB191 will be used to destroy real student learning, the teaching profession and our public schools. It will further the divide between the haves and the have-nots as test scores become 50% of our evaluation. It will eat up important planning time and instructional time as we are forced to fill out the tedious evaluation as well as create SLOs to support the 50% test score component. Our schools with the greatest need will be punished the most.
I share these facts in the hopes that everyone can make an informed vote this Saturday. As I read the 2015 CEA Candidate Statements in the CEA Journal this week I found myself comparing the two candidates through the lense of the business model union and the social movement union. It was a fascinating comparison. Current CEA president Kerrie Dallman referred to three issues in her statement: school funding, toxic testing and quality professional development. It’s an interesting comparison because Kerrie’s statement is filled with numbers - number of members, dollar amounts for reducing the negative factor, and dollars for professional development. It is all valuable information I suppose, but ultimately these numbers do not equate to educating members who must rise up to save our profession and our public schools. Right now, we need our members to be leading the way.
Current CEA candidate for president Jody Dosher discussed our members as being a source of knowledge to determine the direction of our profession and our public schools. Every sentence in his candidacy statement began with We will. He discusses working hard to repeal SB191. He also states: Our members are justified in questioning partnerships with legislators who want to privatize public schools and eliminate our union. I recommend that all CEA members take a look at their CEA Journal which should have arrived in your mailbox this week to form your own opinions.
It is also important to recognize that Amie Baca-Oehlert is not running on the same ticket as Kerrie Dallman. The website (www.kerrieandamieforcea.com) is very misleading as a member might believe that if they vote for Amie they are required to vote for Kerrie. That is not the case. Amie is running unopposed and one can vote for Amie and Jody if they choose to do so.
Democracy is messy. I look forward to a union in which the members indeed tell the officers what we need, what we must do and how we must move forward to support a public education system built on equitable funding and democratic values for our children. I look forward to helping create a union that is focused on caring about the health, intellectual, social, emotional and physical development of the child. I look forward to creating a social movement union in which the parents are our allies, and we are able and willing to inform them on all issues and situations that currently are harming their children under our watch. Our schools are owned by all of us – the parents, students, teachers and citizens – and we must all be involved in reclaiming them and demanding all for our children – democratic schools funded equitably where children are the focus and the heart of public education.
Have a wonderful delegate assembly everyone. Vote for Jody Dosher for CEA President. Jody has over 25 years of classroom experience and has extensive association experience which you can read about on his website here: http://www.jodydosher.com . Let’s rebuild this union as a social movement union for the children, our communities, and in order to save our profession, our public schools , and ultimately, our democracy.