Fall 2015 Meeting Summary

November 12, 2015

SW TURN convened in San Antonio, TX, November 5-6, for their fall meeting. Participants included 3 new locals from the state of TX. We were joined by the President Noel Candelaria of TSTA and Texas AFT President Louis Malfaro. The organizations jointly hosted a reception recognizing the efforts of local leaders in school board races in what have become even more important due to recent big money efforts by privateers to control school boards and use them as a platform for voucher programs and charter schools.

National TURN White Paper: Two sessions provided feedback to National TURN on the white paper under consideration by the group. Adam Urbanski, Director of National TURN kicked off the meeting setting the stage for a small group discussion of its strong and weak points and recommended changes for the second draft of the paper. Then, following a session on messaging led by Amy Nichols, President of the Aurora Education Association and Yvonne Bradford, UniServ Director for Central Adams UniServ the participants each took a small section of the white paper and put their new skills to use in making recommendations on the framing of the language to be included that would reflect a better public understanding of our core message about improving schools.

Teacher-Led Schools: This was our first venture into the teacher-led school discussion. Kevin Brewster, VP of the Portland (Maine) Education Association, did an outstanding job as he described the efforts that caused Reiche Elementary to choose the teacher-led path following the loss of the school’s principal. Participants who had previously indicated some ambivalence to this approach decided they wanted to learn more about it. So, we will delve into this topic more deeply at our spring meeting, April 15-16 in Denver and hope to learn from the staff of the Math and Science Leadership Academy (MSLA) that is located there.

PAR/Mentoring: SW TURN has spent considerable time on the subject of Peer Assistance and Review (PAR). At this meeting, we focused on assistance to teachers through effective mentoring. Ellen Bernstein, President of the Albuquerque Teachers Federation, discussed in detail the characteristics of a good teacher mentoring programs and shared detailed contract language governing their program in Albuquerque..

School Board Elections: Finally, we debriefed recent union efforts in school board races and what members thought they had done well and what needed to be improved upon. The final presentation was by John Moriarity of the Jefferson County Education Association (JCEA), who won a tremendous victory in the recall of three far right board member and the election of two new board members so they have an all new five member board. These candidates promised to return to the collaboration that had been the hallmark of the district for years. While these races received national attention locals from all over CO were able to make gains in seating those favorable to public education, its teachers and their students.

Below is a link to all presentations and papers from the meeting