The union representing the support staff of Culver City Unified School District is calling for the website parentshaverights.org, as well as parent Yahoo groups, to refrain from posting erroneous or misleading information that is fanning the flames surrounding the issue of the El Marino adjuncts.
The Association of Classified Employees-Culver City fully supports parent involvement and participation in their children’s education. Unfortunately, there is a lot of theory, rather than fact, being put out in the public domain that is unnecessarily upsetting parents. It is not, nor has it ever been, our intention to disrupt the El Marino language program or replace the existing adjuncts with other district employees. While we believe that the adjuncts are performing our bargaining unit work, there is more than enough room for compromise and we urge El Marino parents, as well as parents throughout the community, to give us a chance to work through this process collaboratively with the district.
We are aware that volunteers throughout the district may be doing comparable work to our unit members in classrooms every day, but there is a definite distinction to be made between parent volunteers who are in the classroom intermittently and paid employees that do our work on a daily basis. I’ve read several accounts of this issue in recent days that refer to the adjuncts as “paid volunteers,” but how is that accurate when by definition a volunteer is a “person who performs a service willingly and without pay?” We are also aware that there are employees in the district whose salaries are paid by various parent fundraising groups, and those positions are not at issue, either—nor will they be in the future.
At issue, however, are approximately twenty positions at El Marino Language School that have been funded by Advocates for Language Learning El Marino (ALLEM). There are a few different concerns that surround this issue. Several year ago, when the federal law, No Child Left Behind went into effect, all of the members of our unit had to become “highly qualified” in order to keep their jobs. The federal criterion that needed to be met by anyone working with students in the classroom was an AA degree or better—or equivalent training. In an effort to avoid a massive lay-off of our members and to ensure that our members became “highly qualified,” A.C.E. negotiated with CCUSD to provide that training at no cost to the employees, and it was taught in-house. As a result, all current district employees working as support professionals in our district: instructional assistants, librarians, even P.E. aides, have met this criterion. If the adjuncts at El Marino are not already highly qualified, they would be given an opportunity to take the same district provided course to enable them to meet the same qualifications. This benefits not only the adjuncts, but our students.
Secondly, while we applaud all of the parents in our district for their commitment to our schools and students, we realize that not all parent groups will be equally successful in their fundraising efforts. This creates an unfortunate disparity between our schools and creates a climate of “haves” and “have-nots.” For any parent in the community who does not think this would ever happen, you should be aware that while El Marino is fortunate enough to have 20 adjuncts at
their school, La Ballona, which also hosts a Spanish Immersion program has none for their immersion students. So, how can the modeling of target language be an integral part of the immersion experience for the students at one site, but not for the students of the same program at another? El Rincon has four instructional assistants for the entire school, and three of them are restricted to working with only Title I students and split their time between 23 classrooms.
Even if we were to assume that this inequity did not exist, can you imagine a district in which every site had a successful booster club that had total autonomy over who they hired, fired, or how much they paid “their” employees? In what position does that place the district? What is their liability if employees of the booster clubs are involved in legal actions brought by parents or students? Do we even think for a minute that the district would be held harmless if this should happen? Has anyone thought of the chaos having seven different “employers” within one small district would create?
And last, but certainly by no means, least, we’ve seen a lot of rhetoric out there from parents who “support” unions, are actual members of unions, value the important work that unions do, have worked for unions, or value the work the classified employees of this district do every day, but somehow feel it’s appropriate to demonize me in public for wanting to provide the adjuncts they “love” a living wage, a few paid sick days and a few paid holidays by bringing them into my unit. Contrary to what you may have been told, this will not destroy the program at El Marino. It will enhance it.
To all of the people who have posted in their Yahoo groups or Letters to the Editor that I should be “ashamed” of myself for wanting to improve someone’s quality of life and the quality of education, let me assure you, I am not ashamed of it.
I am proud.
Association of Classified Employees—Culver City