Ad Astra, Per Aspera

SD Union Tribune Already Crucifying Teachers

In response to the 3/16 editorial: “S.D. Unified: Students First – or Adults?”

Once again, the UT editorial board chooses to vilify and demean the
hard-working, dedicated teachers of San Diego. Sadly, they’re still
trotting out their old, tired “What about the children?” mantra of
days gone by. I sincerely doubt that any of the editors have set
foot inside a classroom, for, if they had, they would see that all we
do is For The Children.

We arrive early every day For The Children. We stay after work and
use our own personal time For The Children. We are emotional
counselors For The Children. We are pseudo-parents For The Children.
We provide interesting and stimulating education For The Children.
We take work home daily For The Children. We use our summer
to plan next year’s lessons For The Children. We continue to
better ourselves through higher education and professional
development For The Children.

The UT Editorial board seems to think that being a teacher
is all about sacrifice. Give of yourself and think only of the
children. We have. We do. Every day, every month, every year.
Some for a few years, others for dozens or more.

So, with all that time For The Children, where does it say that we are
not allowed to take care of ourselves and our lives? Are we not
allowed to provide For Our Family? Are we not allowed to earn
a prevailing wage For Our Family? Are we not allowed to
provide a decent home For Our Family? Or put groceries on the
table For Our Family?

We have deferred contracted raises and other benefits when the
district came to us with their underfunded budget.
We have negotiated in good faith to ensure that all of the children
of San Diego have qualified teachers in their classrooms from
the first day of school ’til the last, and beyond. We have
watched as colleagues lost their homes, families, and lives.

Since 2007 we have generously offered up our negotiated salary
increases in order to keep our district funded and providing
quality education to the students and families of San Diego.
Now, seven years later, with our contract up for negotiation,
we come to the board with a fair proposal. One that will
benefit everyone – children, teachers, families, and the district.
And the UT Editors response is to do what they do best –
drag out the wooden beams, hammers, and nails.

All this does is serve to remind the public that you have not
been able to move past your “what about the children?” stance.
A repetitive essay such as this would earn a failing grade.
Why not come by my classroom? I’m quite sure that
my sixth-grade students could teach you how to write
a better, more persuasive argumentative essay.

I’m Dennis Schamp and I approve this message.  Rather than a scathing rebuttal to posts elsewhere, this is my response to the latest attack on our profession from the fishwrap known as the UTSD.  I urge ALL of my friends and colleagues to send them your own reply in support of teachers everywhere.  Thank you. 


Board Candidates Should Pay Attention When Voting

This Just In:  Leader of the No Waffle Party Publically Waffles! A Nation Mourns.

A Presidential candidate for a Teachers’ Union should stand behind their decisions.  They should be aware of the discussions and decisions being voted on in their board meetings.  They should know all of the details before casting their vote.  And they never, ever, should waffle in public.

And yet, that’s just what happened at the February 19th Rep. Council meeting.  Shane Parmely, the leader of the notorious Breakfast Club and current candidate for SDEA President, approached the microphone and loudly announced her intention to waffle…on an issue that she originally supported.

At the previous week’s SDEA board meeting, a discussion was held regarding the upcoming SDEA elections.  The Board was discussing the chosen company, and the cost of postcard mailers announcing the election to our members.  The members felt that the cost of the mailers was prohibitive, and the Board voted against including them in the contract.  Ms. Parmely, according to her own words, voted in favor of that proposal.  She threw her support against including the mailers.  Ultimately, the motion passed.

Just one week later, at our Rep Council meeting, Ms. Parmely took to the microphone, and indicated that she was now IN FAVOR of including the mailers.  Why?  Well…apparently she wasn’t feeling well that night, or wasn’t paying close enough attention to the discussion, or was confused on the issue she was voting on.  At least, those were the reasons she gave while changing her mind.

That’s right:  The leader of the Breakfast Club…the subversive group whose motto proudly proclaims No Wafflingwaffled.  On an SDEA Board vote, no less.

Now, as an SDEA member in good standing, and one with intimate knowledge of board actions, I can say this with all truth and honesty: Not once did I see Mr. Freeman, Ms. Burningham, Mr. Mullin, or any other Board member vote on a proposal without first getting ALL of the information or discussing it thoroughly with their fullest attention. If a Board member didn’t understand the topic, or needed more information, they ASKED for clarification before voting.  Conversely, in my years of experience, if a board member was unclear as to the topic at hand, they ABSTAINED from voting.

They certainly didn’t vote one way, then publically change their minds one week later.

Is this the type of President we want on our Union Board?  Someone who votes on issues without their full attention being given to the topic?  What would happen if – God(ess) forbid – that vote had been about a contract issue, such as our salary increase or our health care?  What if they had been voting on YOUR grievance?  Wouldn’t you want a President who knows and understands what is being voted on?

I know I would.

And that’s just ONE reason we cannot allow The Breakfast Club to take over our union.  They will take us back to the dark ages, where we sat on the doorsteps of the Pink Palace, dressed in tatters in rags, with our empty gruel bowls held out in the hopes that someone, anyone, would hear our cries of, “Please, Sir…could I have some more?”

If you’ve been listening to their half-truths and lies as long as I have, you’ll know of what I speak.  If you’re new to their propaganda and are being swayed to the Dark Side, I ask that you to speak to a veteran of the Rep Council so that you get the full story.

Come April, I urge you to vote for the Strength and Unity slate of candidates.  They have ushered us into an era of prosperity and respect for teachers.  And that is exactly what we need at the helm of our union.

In Solidarity!

I’m Dennis Schamp and I approve this message.  These are the musings of me, myself, and I.  I do not represent any other individual, group, or breakfast pastry.  But I have developed a strange craving for a Nutella-covered-bagel.  Go figure

SDEA vs. UTLA: Brains over Brawn

Hello readers.  I’ve been away from this blog for a bit, because until now, things have looked quite rosy in our little corner of the education world.  However, with the spring SDEA elections rapidly approaching, the doomsayers from The Breakfast Club are once again trying to fill your heads with propaganda and half-truths, in order to scare you into voting them onto the union board and positions of power.

I say thee, “Nay!”  As evidence, I offer this commentary on their latest barrage of twisted facts, written by SDEA board member Shane Parmely.  (Her comments in italics.)

This past Wednesday, the Los Angeles teachers union UTLA Rep. Council voted to go to the bargaining table IMMEDIATELY to demand a 17.6% raise, plus lower class size, the restoration of laid off positions, and other member priorities. How? What? Why?Because it makes sense.

How nice for them.  I’m glad they felt like demanding things of their district.  I do believe that, when times warrant that behavior, marching in with anger blazing could get things done.  But, the climate in LA is much different than the climate in SD, and we have a better relationship with our school board than they do up there. 

In districts all over California, the money for raises and restorations is absolutely there. It’s just a question of how each district chooses to spend their increasingly large funds—and how hard each union pushes.

The money is absolutely there? Wow.  I didn’t know that the BC had that much pull in Sacramento, to be able to walk in and see the budget documents from the Governor’s office.  I’d love to see the proof of this statement, and how she was able to find out such information. 

On January 9, Governor Jerry Brown announced his planned state budget for 2014-2015, and it involves massive increases in funding to education, to the tune of $10 billion (yes, BILLION dollars) more than anticipated. According to CTA, that means a 10.9% increase over current, already increased funding levels. Plus, all remaining deferral debt (the imaginary future debt the District points to every year to justify their current cuts) is totally wiped out. Um, wow!

Yup, just like he’s required to do by law, the Governor released his first preliminary budget plan for the coming fiscal year.  Don’t those numbers look beautiful?  And yet, as we all know, by the time the final budget is released in May/June, those numbers change quite a bit.  Sometimes higher, sometimes lower, but NEVER what was discussed in January.  Brown has some high hopes.  Does this mean it’s true?  Who knows – but we shouldn’t base our desires on what might be…only what is.

What does this mean for SDUSD? A LOT. As in, A LOT OF MONEY. Based on the District’s July 1 budget for the current school year, our 13-14 ADA funding is $6,813.66 per student. Back in July, SDUSD projected that next year’s ADA would be $6,936.66—a measly 1.6% increase for 14-15. Brown’s 10.9% increase would put SDUSD’s 14-15 ADA at $7,556.35. That’s an extra $742 per student! With the District’s projected enrollment of 104,019 for next year, we’re talking almost $80 million above and beyond this year’s funding levels! It’s also $65 million more than the District thought they’d be getting next year. Again, um, wow!

Ah, yes.  The superintendent’s preliminary budget information makes for interesting reading.  If I’m not mistaken, there’s also a notation in that budget that our district is predicting a several-million dollar deficit in the coming year—at least, according to an article by McGee in the UT earlier this month.  So, which numbers are we to believe?  Again – who knows?  Just like the Governor’s first budget release is based on projections, so goes the Superintendent’s first budget release.  Why…because the district’s numbers are tied to the Governor’s numbers.  As we’ve seen in the past, once the actual state budget is released, our district budget changes drastically from the first projected numbers. 

That is why other teacher unions in California are wasting no time in reacting. In the plan approved by the UTLA Rep. Council, they are asking for raises to begin kicking in ASAP. As in, during the current 13-14 school year. It’s a “get it before they spend it campaign.” Sounds about right to me.

Well, of course.  Because being confrontational and demanding and bullying is absolutely the best way to get what you want.  Remember, the UTLA is “demanding” their money right now.  Demanding is great.  But it doesn’t always work.  In some cases, it’s the wrong thing to do.  Especially if you’ve built up a modicum of trust with the party you’re dealing with, like we have with our district.  To be sure, I’d love to have my restoration kick in right now.  But, unlike the Breakfast Club, I’m not willing to risk our upcoming contract negotiations to get it. 

I really hope that this lights a fire under our own union’s leadership to push for our raises RIGHT NOW. At OUR last Rep. Council, our SDEA ARs voted NOT to push for the rest of the 6% salary restorations we are owed to happen any sooner than July 1, 2014. Yup. Our Rep. Council voted AGAINST fighting for a raise for this year, led by SDEA Vice President Lindsay Burningham and President Bill Freeman, who turned over chairmanship of the meeting in order to speak against it from the Rep. Council floor. The motion to push for our salary restorations to happen now, not next year, was made by La Jolla HS AR Pat Thomas, and defended by many Breakfast Club caucus ARs. But it was defeated after comments defending the District’s budget by Freeman and Burningham, as well SDEA Board member Ramon Espinal, former SDEA President Terry Pesta, and SDEA Budget Committee member/Hoover HS AR Dave Erving.

That’s right – OUR Association Representatives listened to your group’s version of a bullying tactic and voted it down.  Quite handily, I might add.  Based on the number of NO votes I heard after the reading of your motion, I wouldn’t be surprised if several Clubbers voted against it as well.  And while members of the Board spoke against your motion, so did several general members.  While your intentions may have been admirable, the format of your motion was not.  It was an attempt at bullying, plain and simple.  And as we all know, bullies don’t last long, wherever they may be.  And therein lies the flaw of your nefarious plan.


Well, the extra $65 million in unanticipated funds in 14-15 frees up A LOT of funding for our District THIS YEAR—funds the District has been “setting aside” to fill their fake budget holes two and three years out. Those holes just got incontrovertibly filled. It’s never been more clear that the District has the money to pay us the raises we bargained back in 2010, right now. Shouldn’t we “get it before they spend it” too?

Unless you’re a financial analyst, and can show me how you arrived at this conclusion, you have no way under God’s blue sky to know what is and isn’t available for funding this year in our district.  Have you sat on a budget scrub panel?  No.   Have you reviewed their budget line by line with a CPA or other financial specialist?  I sincerely doubt it (but would be willing to retract that statement if you can prove that you have).  How did you arrive at the “fact” that “…the district has the money to pay us the raises…right now?”  Please show your work.  Because that would go a long way to make a believer out of me. 

That’s what I’ll be pushing for as an SDEA Board member. If you feel the same, let your SDEA leaders, starting with your elected site AR, know. The voters passed Prop. 30 to see lower class size, no more layoffs, and an end to substandard pay for educators. So what are we waiting for?

Hmmm.  As an SDEA Board Member, you should be pushing for the will of the people – the members you represent.  NOT your own personal agenda.  That’s a good way to have a recall petition started…

Bottom line:  We have contract negotiations coming up in just a few months.  SDEA has conducted barging sessions with over 80% of our members, and have a clear priority of what WE want to see in our new contract.  We have a contract in place now that is working well at restoring our previously-deferred raises.  Heck, we just received another returned furlough day, resulting in an additional .54% salary increase for the coming months.  And that was done without demands, without bullying, without anger.  It was done with collaboration and hard work. 

Marching into the district offices with a demand letter at this time will absolutely divide our union membership.  We will be fractured and our throats will be opened to the wolf at the door.  Our bargaining team and contract negotiation team will have wasted all of their hard work for nothing…and all because YOU want us to be like the UTLA.  Well, if you like the way their union runs, perhaps there is a teaching position for you in their district.    

SDEA Board Already Under the Influence of Waffles

For those who may not know, I lost my bid for re-election to the SDEA Board of Directors this past spring.  That’s fine – I don’t mind giving someone else the opportunity to get active and advocate for our membership.

However (you knew there would be one), our BOD is slowly being infiltrated by The Breakfast Club.  Frankly, that makes me worried – and you should be too.

We’re entering a contract negotiation year.  Next spring, we’ll be voting on a brand new contract.  And, while the district will be receiving more and more funding in the coming years, their CFO will continue to tell tales of financial ruin and woe, while advising the SDUSD Board to keep us from our well-deserved due.  That includes our hard-won and hard-kept fully paid health care.  The decisions of our union BOD will become even more critical.  They will – they MUST – work for the good of ALL members, not just the minority factions.

Sadly, at my last board meeting on 6/14, it was already clear the the Breakfast Club’s minions on the SDEA Board are already going to work towards the lesser good.  It seems, based on discussion during the day, that the people who were elected have been given strict instructions to push the Waffle line in all measures and matters.

At one point in our day, we were asked to break out into area groups and discuss what we felt were the priorities for the board for the coming year.  Before we could even get introductions out of the way, newly-elected Area 3 Seat 8 officer Stephanie Marble immediately began touting the Breakfast Club line.  Every conversation within our group was countered with (in various ways), “Well, here’s how the Breakfast Club would do this…”   Every. Single. Time.

How was this made possible?  How did so many waffles make it to SDEA’s sanctum santorum?  Not by any majority vote, that’s for sure. They were elected through apathy.  They were elected because our membership just doesn’t care who sits on the board, as long as they get what they want.  In Area 3, there are approximately 700 members who could have voted.  In the first round, less than 100 cast their ballots.  That’s just sad, people.

I’m not afraid to admit that I’m frightened of my future.  If you think back to last year’s heated discussions on our MOU with the district that saved over 1,500 jobs, you’ll remember that The Breakfast Club was adamantly against it.  They shouted it down during rep. council meetings.  They peppered our BOD meetings with naysayers and doom casters.  They held up signs on the day of voting.  And when it finally passed, with a 2-1 margin, did they actively embrace the change and work towards the common good?.

No – they initiated a series of failed recall petitions,  because WE had voted the amendment into existence.  Of course, they completely ignored the fact that almost 3,400 members voted to pass the changes that saved our jobs, and decided that the BOD was to blame.  Their ME ME ME attitude was detrimental then, and it’s even more so now.

They’ve tried to thwart the good work done by SDEA all year long.  And now, they’ve gone from 2 BOD seats to 5…maybe six (I’m still not sure about one of the new members).  And while their budget decisions must be brought to rep council for approval…well,  you’ve seen/heard how that goes.  Even more syrupy commentary, designed to accuse, derail, and destroy our future.

Unions thrive on solidarity.  We’re one of the strongest in the state.  But the constant distractions by the Club will become our downfall.

What can you do?  Watchdog them.  Attend BOD meetings and questions every decision they make, every good deed they try to unravel.  Watch and hold them accountable when they deviate from the common good to focus on their subversive agenda.  Get your sites involved.  Heck – you could even take the leap to become your site’s Area Representative.  Or – dare I say it?  Run for election next spring.  There will be several more seats opening up come 2014.  Including President.

Do you want SDEA run by President Solidarity…or President Waffle?

I’m Dennis Schamp and I approve this message.  These are the musings of me, myself, and I.  I do not represent any other individual, group, or breakfast pastry.  Not even a tasty Eggo.  ‘Cuz I”m on a diet.

SDEA Spring Election Challenges and Interpretations

It’s easy to be an armchair quarterback.  Watch the others do the job, then swoop in after the fact and tear apart every facet of the work being done.  It is also easy to interpret information to support one’s own agenda.

The Breakfast Club recently released a long, point by point armchair quarterback version of the recent elections.  And I’m accused of having too much time on MY hands…

Within their lengthy diatribe, they attempt to discredit the current election challenges through their interpretation of the standing rules and regs of our election procedures.  Some of these comments sound as if they have merit.  Others give the impression of the “were desperate to take over the board and this is our last chance to do so” variety.

Oddly enough (or maybe not), their long post of violations doesn’t include the violation by their own members with regards to (as they call it) The Email Heard ‘Round the World.  Many of the problems noted by the Club stem from this particular violation.  If their member hadn’t campaigned for their slate of candidates over the district email system, we might not be at this point.  Whether or not Carter was a candidate or not, whether he knew of the rules or not, his email in support of Club contenders violated our rules.

Now, their long list of other violations reads like a police blotter.  All of them come from section nine of the standing rules.  All of them can be interpreted in several ways.  Obviously, since their candidates did not win outright, they choose to interpret them in such a way as to cause shame towards your SDEA leadership and the election committee.  Rather than dive through every rule and show its true meaning, I’ll hit a few highlights of importance.

SR 9.1.E.3 (Procedures) Candidates will receive confirmation from the SDEA office that their Declaration form has been received either by email, US mail, or a written receipt when hand delivered.

When I submitted my own documents for reelection, I made sure BEFORE I arrived at SDEA that I had all of my paperwork in order, that I had dotted my Is and crossed my Ts.  That’s my responsibility as a candidate.  Should Ms. Marble have received a receipt?  Yes.  Did she verify that she had all of her documents in order?  It doesn’t seem that way, or this wouldn’t be an issue.  Looks to me like blame should be on both parties, not just SDEA.  Perhaps the Club should have worked with their candidates more closely to ensure they were ready to run. What you don’t know: After this had all been discovered, Ms. Marble was given the chance to come down and submit her documents to the election committee AFTER THE FACT.  That’s right – the committee noted the error and made attempts to correct their error.  Ms. Marble chose not to accept that offer, and was instead turned into a write-in candidate.  End of story.

SR 9.1.I (Vote Requirement) All vote requirements shall be established in accordance with CTA guidelines.  Unless otherwise specified, all elections shall be decided by majority vote.  Write-in votes are valid and must be counted.

And they were.  Ms. Marble received several write-in votes, the majority of which were counted.  End of story.

SR 9.1.J.4.b (Counting of Ballots) Blank and/or illegal ballots for each office/position shall be set aside.  Examples include the following: Voter’s intent unclear; 

As the item states, “Examples include the following….”  Not “Illegal ballots are LIMITED TO…,” or “Ballots w/o the bubble colored in will still be counted.”  The election committee determined that the ballots w/o a proper vote (the circle colored in on the scantron sheet) were invalid and were set aside.  Hmmmm…if a student taking a test on a scantron wrote the letter of the answer on the scantron rather than coloring it in, I’d mark it wrong because he didn’t follow directions.  The voters didn’t follow instructions – their ballots were not counted.  End of story.

SR 9.1.I.1 (Vote Requirement) A majority vote means more than half of the legal votes cast.

This is the one that really made me angry, especially after the snarky, rude, and condescending speech by Shane Parmely at rep council.  She spoke to election co-chair Karen Ellsworth as if she were admonishing a first-grader about their homework.  Her tone of voice was so vile that groans and cries of “That’s enough” could be heard during here outburst.  Here’s the real story –

According to the election committee, the teller sheets for the board elections stated a victory would be comprised of 50% + 1 of the legal votes cast.  If memory serves, there were 97 votes cast for this particular board seat (mine!).  10 were disqualified, leaving 87 legal votes.  Ms. Marble received 44 of those votes.  Math time:

Problem 1: 87 / 2 = 43.5.

Problem 2: 50% + 1 of 87 = 44.5

Problem 3: Math teachers are supposed to know that when one rounds a number, you round up at 5-9.  Since there can’t be 1/2 a vote (unless you’re only half a person!) we round that number up to 45.

Problem 4: 44 < 45.

Therefore, Ms. Marble did not win by the required majority as stated on the teller reporting sheet.  Hence, the run-off election is valid.

I will say that yes, there is differing information on the SDEA website regarding the majority rule.  The election committee chose to follow the information printed on the OFFICIAL ELECTION DOCUMENTS. End of story.

Is there more?  Of course.  There will always be problems during elections where two groups of unlike-minded people are running for coveted seats on governing boards.  Before you believe everything you read, do your OWN due diligence (like I do) to ensure you’re getting the whole story.  Don’t be a lemming.

I’m Dennis Schamp and I approve this message.  These are the opinions of me, myself, and I.  I do not represent any other person, group, or breakfast pastry.  Especially waffles.  They’re leaving a bad taste in my mouth these days. 

SDEA Election Challenges Properly Continue

At the recent BOD meeting (Wed, 4/10), another challenge to the spring election results was brought to the Board for consideration.  Again, this challenge referenced the campaign email sent out by members of The Breakfast Club, in clear violation of the election guidelines in our organization’s standing rules.

Once again, after a brief discussion, the board voted to uphold the challenge based on the evidence presented.  And, once again, the members of the Breakfast Club who sit on the SDEA Board both voted to dismiss the challenge…even when presented with evidence that the election was tainted.

My question is: does their action constitute a breach of their fiduciary duty to the members in their areas?  We are elected to our board positions in order to represent all of the members.  We should be expected to follow the guidelines and rules of the organization.  And yet, when presented with clear evidence that wrongdoing was committed, these two members attempt to interpret the rules to their own (or guided) designs, and vote how they (apparently) are told to vote…rather than vote according to the rules of our organization.

I would venture that any officer of a major corporation who voted on issues to achieve personal gain would be sanctioned, let alone thrown off the board for breach of promise.

I’ll be frank: I also filed a challenge against this election.  Had I lost through a fair election, I would indeed have been gracious enough to step down and wish the new board member much luck with their new job…because they’d need it.  However, when faced with evidence that a small faction of members chose to circumvent not only the election rules but directives from our own district’s legal department in order to win their seats on the board, I could  not sit idly by.  It would not be fair to the other board members, and it certainly would not be fair to the 600+ members whom I represent with this board seat.

When there is an honest and fair election, I will be happy to be involved and let the results fall where they may.  Until then, I shall fight tooth and nail to continue to help guide our membership into a new era of educational stability.  I’m ready to run again.  And I ask for your support.

I’m Dennis Schamp and I approve this message.   These are the opinions of me, myself, and I.  I do not purport to represent any group, organization, or breakfast pastry.  That’s because my kids keep eating the doughnuts before they go to bed.  

Post Navigation