Tuesday, January 22, 2013

South Bay United Teachers: "Where Are You?"

In the past two years, South Bay residents have read about "major" stories about dissed and dismissed educators. These teachers and coaches went out of their way to perform for their students, so that they could succeed later in life. No matter what background students hail from, no matter how well-off their parents may be, the growing disrespect toward teachers, along with rising student drug use and deviance in the South Bay, should alarm residents.

"Bullying" has become a major topic in the press and public education. From school shootings to harassment of minorities, intimidation and retaliation are getting more attention, yet teachers and coaches are getting harassed, too, and no one seems to care. "South Bay United Teachers" represents Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach, and Centinela Valley teachers, yet more often than not it appears that SBUT has been MIA on behalf of their members.

Redondo Beach Unified has had its share of drama. Paul White was a nationally recognized teacher who had taken charge at West Valley Leadership Academy, where 80 percent of students graduated, a third higher than the average for the Los Angeles area. His credentials impressed Redondo Beach district leadership enough to hire him for the South Bay Adult School, where White put a stop to promiscuous sexual activity and drug use rampant among students. Yet after ten weeks on the job, district administration with campus security confronted him, informed him that they were placing him on administrative leave, and required him to turn over all access to his classroom and position. On leave for eight months, White received his full salary along with benefits, then he was released on July 1, 2011.
Varsity Basketball coach Tom Maier had a successful career at Redondo Union High School. After eleven years with a 197-111 record, Maier was dismissed without warning. According to Maier, parents were abusing his staff and the team's opponents in basketball games. Even though the principal had issued a gag-order, the abusive parents and their kids never let up. One student actually assaulted the coach, but nothing was done about it. One parent explained that his son came home in tears, then criticized the coach because Maier was not "nurturing enough", and he "mentor" the student.

Maier's final comment foreshadows the drama that Mira Costa's baseball coach Cassidy Olson would face (more on Olson later):

“They[school administration] gave me no help with the situation. I’ve become one of many coaches at the high school level victimized by parents and the administrators who succumb to them.”

At the end of the 2011-2012 year, Redondo Beach Unified School District informed music teacher Scott Sutherland that they would not renew his contract for the next year. According to The Daily Breeze, Sutherland had issued an "impassioned" email to the district officials about a construction project. Sutherland later apologized for his email. Nevertheless, he received a "needs improvement" mark on his teaching evaluation, which was enough to deny him tenure after two years of vastly improving the music program at Parras Middle School. Despite a massive protest from parents and students, Sutherland was forced to leave.

Someone needs to ask Redondo Beach Teachers Association President Monica Joyce: "Where are you?"

Manhattan Beach Unified Teachers Association (MBUTA) has faced off against a district leadership with mixed priorities. First, the district splurged on Ipads, while the teachers had gone without a raise in five years. Next, the school board contracted out retired administrators with five figure salaries to do the jobs which the current leadership was supposed to be doing. Now Mira Costa baseball coach Cassidy Olson has been sanctioned because a handful of irate parents are "defending" their children from his "abuse".

Karl Kurz is the president of the Manhattan Beach Unified Teachers Association (MBUTA). How come his members are facing a culture of hostility? District money goes to non-essentials at the expense of the teachers and the students. When will the MBUTA ask Kurz: "Where are you?"
Centinela Valley Union High School District is the "Valley of Elah" when it comes to abused teachers. Donald Flaherty, the former Hawthorne High School band director, got the boot for standing up to corrupt district administration. Then Principal Vince Bravo of Lawndale High School got promoted, transferred, and then demoted, only to resign in undeserved and undisclosed disgrace. Many CV teachers complained about district leadership, only to receive involuntary transfers or unsuitable assignments per their credential. The CVUTA changed leadership two years ago, then changed again, but has the abuse and disrespect of qualified personnel dissipated?

Jack Foreman, President of the CVSTA, where are you? It seems that CVUHDS teachers are not getting the union representation that they deserve. They have to pay their dues, stand down with their union, but when tenured staff get pushed into a corner, more often than not the district wins. From irate parents to abusive students to inadequate pay to poor district leadership splurging on unnecessary innovations at the expense of the teachers, every educator in the South Bay should be asking the South Bay United Teachers : "Where are you?"

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