Ramona teacher places trust in union leadership

By Carolyn McNulty

Who do you trust? That question occupies our attention, whether it’s a small choice between which brand of pasta sauce is truly best or a larger choice between political parties.

Lately, Ramona residents have been trying to decide whether the school district is right in saying that it must take a sizable chunk of money from its teachers or whether the teachers are correct in saying that the cut doesn’t need to be so large.

Who’s right? Both sound compelling. For me, it comes down to history and trust.

I am a Ramona teacher and have been for about 20 years. Each year, the district makes a budget presentation to each school’s teachers.

After listening to these for a number of years, I began to see the pattern. The presentation would be full of gloom and doom, but the final numbers at the end of the year would be well in the black.

I stopped worrying about the gloom and doom. I lost trust in the district’s numbers presentations.

For years, I’ve carefully chosen candidates to elect to the school board. Each seemed to remain the person purported to be during the election. This year, I’ve attended most board meetings. I’ve spent hours watching those people that I helped elect.

I’m frustrated to see the change: one perpetually looks angry, one ignores teacher speakers while shuffling papers, one loses patience with teacher and parent speakers, and one avoids all eye contact.

I’m frustrated by their habit of calling on the public speakers in an order carefully chosen to minimize teacher impact (community speakers on non-controversial topics first, teachers and their supporters next, and finally, when available, a speaker known to be pro-board).

That order was derailed only at the meeting held at the high school at which a pro-teacher speaker was able to speak last only because his request-to-be-heard card had been mislaid. I’ve lost trust in the school board.

Over 20 years ago, I attended a multi-week teacher training on Montessori methods. One of the other attenders was Grant McNiff, now the chair of the teachers’ association negotiating team. Since then, I’ve seen him most years at teacher trainings and grade level meetings.

He’s always been the same: honest, open, direct, and excited about teaching. I trust him.

Since 1994, I’ve taught at Ramona Community School with Donna Braye-Romero. After teaching next door to her for years, attending the same meetings, and seeing her on a number of Wednesday nights with her AWANA group, I feel I know her well.

She’s remained the same: outspoken, direct, and passionate about her students. I trust her.

For me, trusting one side over the other has been easy due to the relationships built up over the last 20 years.

I trust my teachers’ association because I trust its leaders.

Ramona, who do you trust?

Carolyn McNulty, a Ramona resident, teaches at Ramona Community School.

Related posts:

  1. Teachers give union permission to strike
  2. Update on RUSD negotiations with teachers union
  3. District declares impasse in teacher talks
  4. Report fails to resolve Ramona’s teacher, district clash
  5. Ramona teachers union leaders call for strike authorization vote

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Posted by Maureen Robertson on Jun 1 2013. Filed under Commentary. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

9 Comments for “Ramona teacher places trust in union leadership”

  1. John Stockton

    Who do I trust? What has become apparent to me is NEITHER is looking out for the best interests of our children.

    The teachers get up on their soapbox and claim to be "for the kids". Let's be honest, they, or at least their union, are in it for the teachers.

    The administrators (including the Board) are no better. The Board is mostly about self-promotion and power. Being a big fish in a small pond must be appealing to some. The administration is not guilt-free either. Do we really need all these assistant superintendents, assistant principals and other ancillary staff?

    So, you see, we are in the unfortunate position of having representatives in this battle to look out for the best interests of the administration and teachers, but nobody looking out for our kids. At least those employed by the district get their cushy pensions and benefits those of us who support them through our taxes do not enjoy.

  2. Dbr

    Thank you for your comments Carolyn

  3. Jane Tanaka MD

    We tend to trust those who are like us.
    We tend to trust those who trust others, and not those who seem distrustful themselves.
    We tend to trust those who are transparent in what they are doing, and who communicate with us, and are open to our ideas.
    Trust tends to vacillate according to evidence we see of trustworthiness … unless we have blind trust.. but than can enable people who will take advantage of us.
    Its risky to trust , because it can lead to feeling betrayed or disappointed.
    Trust must occur first , in order to have Faith.
    Negotiating in Good Faith… very hard to do without Trust.
    Perhaps, hence 18 plus months of negotiations until an agreement.

  4. Parent

    You teachers continue to show your true colors. Good to know.

  5. Fred

    I too have been at more board meetings than I can count in the last year and a half. I have seen the overly pessimistic budget projections. I seen the non-transparent way the school district admin deals with issues, trying to cover up and exclude the public. And most importantly I have seen an ineffective board who does not ask questions, does not probe the admin's plans, and does not hold the superintendent responsible for making the kind of changes that will be good for the children, the community and the employees of the district. Dr. G should be accountable and the school board are the ones we have chosen for the job of holding him accountable.

    When public citizens like Jane Tanka and the Parents Coalition are doing a better job from the sidelines of asking the right questions, investigating and calling for action, than our board members, something is wrong with our so called leadership.

  6. Fred

    Part 2
    For me it comes down to choosing board members next election who are proactive and brave enough to roll up their sleeves to fix things instead of just riding the superintendent's wave. I hope we will all look closely at our candidates come next school board election. And from here on out, our present school board should start doing their job… represent the community of Ramona.

  7. Jane Tanaka MD

    Thank you Fred, for the validation. But it is easier to be on the sidelines to shout out what logically seems to be right. Its harder to be in public office .. its harder to be the one who might be sued or tar and feathered, especially in Ramona.
    Am aware that labor laws and fear of lawsuits have greatly encumbered the process
    of the negotiations. If you take a look at the California Public Employees Relations Board website, you will see that the negotiations followed step by step what the PERB outlines, and the attorneys on both sides have either advised accordingly or drawn out the process to the hilt. . Its like the RTA and the Board have been behaving like middle school students at a cotillion, afraid of making a misstep.. and its frustrated and perplexed everyone! And yet the PERB told them at the end to knock it off and work it out. Hopefully common sense will rule next time; ie in one year when the agreement runs out.

  8. Fred

    Dr. Tanaka,
    I respectfully disagree. No one would sue anyone if the board were just to start digging into facts and asking the right questions, even before negotiations gets to the point it has gotten to this go around. Like I said they need to be proactive and represent the interests of the community. If initially they had told Dr. G. and Mr. Ostermann to figure out a better offer than the last best and final that was imposed, we never would have gotten to PERB, fact finding, or an imposition. Dr. G was never help accountable because Perfect, Dohm, Stoody and Lasley apparently think they represent him. Why else would they give him a raise first when the district was in such turmoil? They should have told him to fix the problem and then give him the raise. And there's Rajic who doesn't want to decide one way or the other where he stands. Ramona deserves better representation.

    • Guest

      Fred you are correct! It is the obligation of each and every board member to research and know the facts of each and every item that comes before them for a vote. You don't just give staff a blank check to do what they want. These board members are doing the district, the students and the community diservice if they are not researching the facts before making a decision on which way to vote. If its too much work for them then they need to resign and let someone who truly cares take over. Also it is Mr. Graeffs job to make the board look good and informed and to try to keep them out of this type of turmoil. He has failed miserably at that and if I sat on that board (and I've sat on a few, have no desire to any longer) I'd be asking for his resignation. I just hope now for the students sake and the communities sake this can be put behind them for the next two years and in the meantime work on the issues they still have so we don't see this two years from now.

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