I’ve been slowly catching up with the School Board meetings, mainly because sometimes they are so damn hard to find and sometimes because I’m lazy and it’s exhausting to listen to sometimes. I did want to address one overarching theme though that I’ve been thinking about a bit. I think the last School Board meeting, not last Tuesday’s but the one before that, where it really crystalized for me.
So, presently, Board Member Trish Spencer has been sort of the de facto voice of Alameda Education Associates (AEA aka Teachers’ Union) on the Board. For almost every issue, almost, she tends to vote against whatever the issue is and say that AEA should be consulted on the issue, irrespective of what the issue is. For example, there was the agenda item about the School Facilities Bond and after talking and talking about it Trish Spencer essentially said that she couldn’t make a decision on the School Bond without first consulting with AEA.
Then another example was her vote against a contract with BaySci which does professional development for AUSD science teachers. Even though Science teachers, you know the population of folks that would be affected by the contract, had been asked and consulted about this program because AEA had not been consulted or because they had not given their stamp of approval Trish Spencer voted against this contract.
Here’s the thing, this relentless “support” in the form of voting against really ordinary stuff because AEA hasn’t been consulted is just not effective. While there are definitely big picture items that AEA should be consulted on these things that Trish Spencer has been using to justify her “no” votes reflects poorly on her and on AEA. In fact, I’m not sure that AEA necessarily supports Trish Spencer using their organization as a rationale to vote “no.” I mean, they might, but when she uses them as her reason for voting no, it is implied that they do agree and on some of the agenda items she votes “no” on, it makes you wonder why they would oppose that item.
In fact, I found when AEA spoke during their allotted time they were 100% more effective in that short amount of time than Trish Spencer has ever been in her desire to “advocate” for AEA. Some of the issues that they raised made the administration look super petty — which is what I am assuming that they wanted to do — and therefore, very effective. Such as stating that the Superintendent intervened in what should have been an issue between AEA and the Human Resources Director. The other item raised was the fact that teachers were not allowed into their classrooms early to set up. Given that there was no explanation provided by the administration, the only side of the story that we have is that of AEA and it was a powerful message they sent.
Anyway, based on last Tuesday’s School Board meeting, it appears that Barbara Kahn may be heading down the Trish Spencer pathway by insisting that AEA be involved in discussions about Common Core implementation. Although for that one, I don’t disagree that AEA should be involved. So far, Barbara Kahn has not yet stepped into that Trish Spencer territory, but I think it becomes too easy to vote “no” on an issue and then use AEA consultation as a rationale. AEA is doing fine advocating for their interests on their own and — from my impression — does better without having Board Members speak on their behalf.