Apr 10, 2016

Why I'm Running for WTU President in 2016

Candi Peterson and GeLynn Thompson
Candidates for WTU President & GVP 2016
By Candi Peterson, Candidate for WTU President 2016

Disclaimer: I AM NOT a member of the current WTU Contract Negotiations team. 

For the first time, my decision to run as President of the Washington Teachers’ Union is rooted in a strong desire to lead our much-beleaguered union to a respectable level of teacher/member representation that embraces and fosters union democracy to the greatest extent possible.  The deterioration of union democracy has imperiled DC educators and WTU members for too many years and is manifest in the loss of job security and dignity, without which, teacher unions'  become obsolete.  Job security is the hallmark of any good union. WTU’s continued path of apathy and passivity is unacceptable if it is to survive as more than a vehicle for high union dues that benefit salaried employees, currently not WTU members, and the AFT, our parent organization.

My years of advocacy and service to WTU, first as a member of the Board of Trustee during the Parker/Saunders’ administration, and as General Vice President for both the Saunders’ and presently, the Davis/Peterson administration, have equipped me with the ability to lead and restore our Local to both sound fiscal and respectable leadership.  To have gone for nearly six years, two administrations and not have negotiated a contract for members, who have worked for more than four years without a pay raise, amplifies the current crisis in WTU leadership.  The membership is the highest authority in the union; thus, to continue on a path of apathy and dysfunction will not evidence the recognition and respect our members deserve and pay for.

Whatever one’s leadership style, whatever one’s temperament, no union leader will be successful using a top-down management strategy; in fact, without shared decision making and meaningful collaboration with its rank-and–file members, the current autocratic style of WTU leadership does not foster the much needed active participation necessary to build a strong union in a time of teacher turnover, bait and switch, disrespect and outright blame, and assault.

To promote the change members seek and need, I have joined forces with a diverse group of old school and new school teachers who like me believe in accountability, collaboration, transparency and social justice unionism.  I announced my candidacy for WTU president in 2015 and became committed to finding a General Vice President and a slate to run in the 2016 WTU elections. (Please see Peterson WTU slate flyer- below).

I have been fortunate to partner with GeLynn Thompson, a graduate of the DC Teaching Fellows, and a special education teacher at Randle Highlands Elementary School who has worked for DC Public Schools for 11 years. GeLynn has worked as a WTU Building Representative for five years and has been a strong advocate for teachers in our schools.  GeLynn is a daughter of the union. Her father was a member of the United Steel Workers (USW) and she and her family witnessed first hand how the USW union helped her father move forward in his job despite suffering from epilepsy.

A career educator, GeLynn is the embodiment of the new educator, deeply committed to union democracy and social justice unionism.  As veteran educators, we must reach back and reclaim all members and bridge the generation gap, whether TFA, teaching fellows or traditionally certified, or otherwise our union will become extinct.

If elected, I expect you to help to keep me honest and in line.  No human being is perfect, or always right; however, if you vote for the Peterson/Thompson team, we commit to promoting and adhering to the following priorities:

The first priority of the Peterson/Thompson slate after four years of failed efforts is to get teachers’ a contract that includes transparency as well as a compensation package that does not exclude teachers’ planning to retire.

We want to cultivate a productive and respectful relationship with DCPS management, adhere to bi-weekly meeting schedule with the Chancellor’s management team, as well as resolve some of our issues at the lowest level possible.

We recognize the importance of fiscal integrity, regular monthly financial updates by our treasurer, open governance and adhering to our proposed budgets and not overspending beyond our means. WTU finances will be open to all members for inspection, debate and discussion.

We want to ensure that each teacher receives an Effective evaluation or higher. It’s easier to help you keep your job then fight to get it back. We will hire three Teacher Center Coordinators and staff to provide differentiated professional development on the Teaching Learning Framework and ensure that all Teacher Centers are fully operational.

We plan to ensure that a new teacher mentoring program is developed by the Chancellor and the WTU President as provided in Article 2 of the WTU Collective Bargaining Agreement. We believe this is long overdue.

We must fully staff WTU Field services to represent members in workplace complaints, all field staff openings will be filled and all qualified rank and file WTU members who apply will be considered. We must also rethink fighting one case at a time. We need a comprehensive legal and political strategy.

We have gone too long and have failed to develop the much-needed partnerships with parents and community. It’s imperative that we develop community coalitions, alongside them we can work collectively for high quality education for students and better working conditions for teachers in all wards and give voice where our less resourced schools have become social experiments.

We believe our union must adhere to our own WTU Constitution and By-Laws. We plan to ensure that the twelve union committees are fully operational and chaired by Executive Board members as required in the WTU Constitution and By-laws. WTU will hold timely elections without interference from WTU administration.

 I know I’m going to be the target of all kinds of personal attacks, but I’ve put my reputation on the line for the last decade as an activist and The Washington Teacher Blogger when no one else would stand up to tyrants like former Chancellor Michelle Rhee. I created this education blog to be a voice for our teacher members.

I’m going to stick to the issues and offer a new type of leadership that offers to Bridge The Gap between the old style of top down – My Way Or The Highway leadership – and get the rank and file re-engaged with our Union.

The Truth Hurts, but we have lost our way, the last two administrations have procrastinated and not gotten the job done and we need to get back on track and get a CONTRACT! Vote Peterson WTU Slate in 2016. Ballots will be mailed in May.

© Candi Peterson, 2016

Vote Peterson WTU Slate 2016 (Scroll down to see 2nd page of flyer)


Anonymous said...

Way to go Candi! Glad to see that you are finally running for the top seat. It's long overdue.
You got my vote.

Anonymous said...

I hope you win Candi--I honestly think you will kick some serious but in DCPS Central Office. These people are long overdue the way they have messed over teachers for years!