I am a teacher at one of the schools in the Culver City Unified School District. As I fear retribution from our union leadership, I prefer to use the name Nota Sheep. Certainly, my parents were not that mean, and this is not my real name.
Every two years, our union leadership chooses one or more candidates to support in the school board elections. Union leadership does not consult with the teachers to ask who we would like to support. Union leadership doesn’t meet with teachers to decide what questions to ask the candidates. The union leadership picks the candidates that they want, and then tells everyone who the teachers support.
I remember some years ago that the union leadership supported a man by the name of Gary Abrams. I never met Mr. Abrams but after hearing him speak and reading his letters, I was ashamed that we supported him. Four years ago, our union leadership publicly announced support for Karlo Silbiger even before the last date for the candidates to sign up. I don’t know how the union leadership knew that Mr. Silbiger was the best candidate before it even knew who the other candidates were.
This year was the worst. Going against what I believe that most teachers wanted, our Union chose Karlo Silbiger, again, Claudia Vizcarro and Vernon Taylor. Our president, David Mielke sent out a letter supporting just two of these candidates. I was uncertain what happened to the third candidate, but I later learned that because our union wanted money, we teamed up with the Los Angeles Federation of Labor. The Federation didn’t like one of our three candidates, so he was left off the letter. Of course, the Federation’s name wasn’t on the mailer, only our union. So, it looked, incorrectly, like our teachers had withdrew our support of this third candidate. I was ashamed again.
Apparently our union sought other unions help in this election, including the Federation, the California Federation of Teachers, the California Teachers’ Association, and the United Teachers of Los Angeles. You would think with all this union support, our candidates would thrive.
A letter sent by the United Teachers of Los Angeles contained some misstatements. When he was asked about those misstatements, the author, UTLA President Warren Fletcher explained that he had only cut and pasted information that he got from David Mielke, and that the misstatements were not Mr. Fletcher’s. Apparently, the misstatements were those of David Mielke. I was ashamed once again
Just last week, our union sent out a mailer that said “Our Teachers Agree, Taylor, Silbiger and Vizcarro for School Board.” The mailer didn’t say it was from our union. At first, I was disappointed that I wasn’t asked to be in the large photograph taking up over ½ of the front page of that mailer. Then I looked and saw that I didn’t know anyone in the photograph. I guess not too many teachers agreed with the union, because none of the people pictured were CCUSD teachers. None were African American, either. After reading this mailer, I looked in the mirror and all I saw was shame.
I was not surprised when “our” three candidates finished 4th, 5th and 6th out of 7 running. I wonder if “our” candidates would have won had David Mielke and the union endorsed someone else. Maybe in the future we could select candidates that we don’t like so that when David messes up, our candidates can win.
The common thread in all of these debacles is union president, David Mielke. He’s been the president as long as I’ve been in the school. Sometimes, change is needed. This is one of those times.
People always wonder why Culver City teachers are so poorly paid compared to teachers in other districts. I think I know the answer. David Mielke is our negotiator.
Like I said, its time for a change.
Editor’s Note – Although we do not allow anonymous email or comments, the writer has clearly stated why they are using a nom de guerre, and so we are allowing this as an exception to our regular editorial policy.