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Alameda Teachers Endorse Board Candidates

The Alameda Education Association, representing local public school teachers, has endorsed three candidates for the school board.

The Alameda Education Association (AEA) representing local public school teachers, has endorsed three candidates for the school board: incumbent Trish Herrera Spencer and challengers Barbara Kahn and Jon Murphy.

The three are among nine candidates vying for three seats on the board in the Nov. 6, 2012, election. (See the complete list of candidates for these and other local races in the Alameda Patch article "Election Watch: Final Line-Up for School Board, Health Care District."

“We are excited about our upcoming campaign kickoff for these three outstanding advocates for students and education in Alameda. We look forward to working together with the community to support Trish, Barbara and Jon for Alameda School Board,” said Gray Harris, president of the 524-member AEA, in an Aug. 28 press release.

According to the release, the campaign kickoff is 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 8, in front of 2200 Central Ave., between Oak and Walnut streets in Alameda.

A panel of AEA members interviewed all nine school board candidates recently, and all candidates participated by answering written as well as oral questions, according to the AEA. The teachers' union chose three people to endorse for the following reasons, the release said:

"Trish Spencer, incumbent, is a parent, attorney and proven advocate for students and education in Alameda. Trish always puts the interests of the students first.

"Barbara Kahn, parent and grandmother, has been active in Alameda schools for over 50 years, and believes a voice must be raised in support of our children. Barbara wants the focus to be on what is truly important in a school district -- students, teaching and learning.

"Jon Murphy teaches nursing at Merritt College, serves as co-chair of the California Community College Budget Committee, and just completed his doctorate in educational leadership. Jon is excited about students achieving their highest potential in a district where parents, teachers and staff can work collaboratively."

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Jon Spangler August 29, 2012 at 04:08 PM
As is often the case, these endorsements say more about the AEA and the attitude of the union's current leadership than it does about the candidates the AEA endorsed. From what I have seen since the collaborative and community-wide effort leading to the Measure A victory, the AEA leadership has seemed to become more combative, defensive, and, it seems, unwilling to cooperate with Alameda parents, the community, the Board of Education, or AUSD administrators. (Yes, there are legitimate issues to be resolved, but the ways in which AEA has approached them seems to have not been solution-oriented.) In a break from my previous voting decisions, I am inclined to not vote for the candidates the AEA has endorsed in 2012--simply because the AEA, with its combative recent tactics and rhetoric, has endorsed them. I suggest that my fellow voters do the same.
Helen Wu August 29, 2012 at 07:07 PM
Jon is completely right. The AEA's leadership is out of touch with the needs of our community and seems at times to be out of touch with reality. As for the candidates endorsed by the AEA, the AEA has selected: 1) Trish Spencer -- a professional contrarian whose sole function as a board member seems to be complaining without offering viable alternatives. She shamefully refused to support both the anti-bullying curriculum intended to protect gay students and Measure E. She has also advocated for the closure of neighborhood schools. The AEA apparently neglected to review her record because, as usual, she pandered to her audience. 2) Barbara Kahn -- who seems to be little more than a shill for the Union -- and one who doesn't have her facts straight at that. She erroneously states in her candidate statement that the Board refused to give the teachers a raise when, in fact, the Board offered the teachers a raise, but the AEA rejected it. Kahn has also indicated that she believes it is in the school district's best interest to keep employees in an indisputably unsafe building just because the building has always been unsafe; and 3) Jon Murphy -- Who? As far as I know he's never done anything in or for Alameda Schools.
Jack Schultz August 29, 2012 at 08:06 PM
The union loudly rattled sabers about a strike on 2 issues (class size and district reserves) which were unanimously voted in the district's favor by the fact-finding panel. Unanimity is rare in such proceeding, as 1 panelist is hand-picked by the union. Even that person saw through the union's BS. Read the report here: http://www.alameda.k12.ca.us/images/stories/pdfs/factfindingreport.pdf Notice on page 5 that the union attempted to duck the meeting entirely. They KNEW they would lose. With friends like AEA, the teachers don't need enemies..... Do we really want the candidates put forth by a body that is needlessly combative, fails to understand the basic elements of budgeting & policy, and negotiates like petulant children?
Jon Spangler August 30, 2012 at 03:10 AM
I am a former card-carrying union member and a longstanding supporter of unions and unionized professions (plumbers, nurses, teachers, musicians, actors, and more) who has spent time walking picket lines. I have always supported the right of workers to organize and unionize. I have supported teachers all my life--including three years volunteering alongside the great teachers and parents at Franklin School here in Alameda. My personal support for teachers--including every teacher in the AUSD--remains as strong as ever, despite my sadness after witnessing the shortcomings of the AEA's current leadership. The AEA's recent disappointing actions and statements, however, leave me no option but to adopt the only principled stance I can discern--the personally uncomfortable position of opposing the AEA and its Board of Education endorsements. If, in recent years, the AEA's leadership had been more accurate, responsible, and collaborative, perhaps I would have other options.
Jon Spangler August 30, 2012 at 03:11 AM
I truly wish I did....
Jack Schultz August 30, 2012 at 01:26 PM
So Spencer advocated for firing teachers en masse (that's what happens when you close schools) and the union STILL supports her? When will the union's membership wake up and realize their dues are buying poor leadership? A housecleaning is very much in order....

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