2008: Orange County Teachers Buck Union, Back Prop. 8 / Edge, Boston

Note that this article is from a newspaper catering to the gay/lesbian readership in Boston, so it clearly dispproves of what the Orange County teachers have done.

I know quite a few Orange County teachers, some of whom are LDS or conservative Christian. I can verify that they are VERY disturbed by the actions of the state board.

Congratulations, O.C. Teachers!! You get our “Saving our Civilization” award. Children are well served by such approaches.

See the original at the Edge magazine website at this link.

Love & Thanks,

Steve St.Clair
Orange County Teachers Buck Union, Back Prop. 8
by Kilian Melloy
EDGE Contributor
Monday Nov 3, 2008

Proposition 8, the anti-gay ballot initiative set to appear on California’s ballot, has been compared to the infamous 1978 Briggs Initiative, which sought to criminalize gays and lesbians taking teaching jobs.
But some of Orange County’s own teachers have rejected their union’s institutional support for marriage equality and sought to provide support of their own for the amendment, which would revoke the already existing right of gay and lesbian families to marry in California.
The Orange County Register reported in an OCt. 31 story that the California Teachers Association’s $1.25 million donation to help defend marriage equality provoked anger from some of the union’s membership. For some, the issue was marriage itself: who should be allowed to participate, and who, in their opinion, should be legally barred from accessing marital protections for their families.
For others, the issue had to do with strained resources and the teaching profession’s scope of responsibilities.
The article quoted sixth-grade teacher Jim McPherson, who said of the Union’s pro-marriage stance, “I’m tired of having them suggest all teachers support [marriage equality].”
One point of contention for teachers opposed to marriage equality: TV ads saying that California’s teachers are against the anti-gay amendment.
Added McPherson, “I know not all teachers support it.”
For kindergarten teacher Chris McLaren, the issue was more about using union funds for problems more immediately tied to education and the teaching profession.
Said McLaren, “They’ve always endorsed candidates and issues, but we have so many problems in education and all that money should be funneled toward protecting class sizes and teachers’ jobs.”
Added McLaren, “Many teachers at my school are looking at getting pink-slipped for the fourth year in a row.”
A pro-Proposition 8 demonstration drew an estimated crowd of 120, the Register article said, including teachers and other opponents of marriage equality.
But though some teachers may oppose the union’s official stance, union officials said that defending civil rights has historically been part and parcel of the group’s work.
Union spokesperson Frank Wells was quoted as saying, “Equality and fighting discrimination are a big part of our mission statement.”
Added Wells, “CTA is a democratic organization, and we recognize that not 100 percent of its members are going to be represented by the majority viewpoint, but the opportunity for representation is there.”
Wells said that the “overwhelming majority” of teachers in the union had voted for the union to lend its support to efforts to ward off Proposition 8. Like any other democratically governed institution, the union went with the wishes of its majority.
As for the $1.25 million that the union contributed toward defending California’s families, Wells said, that’s not so much money that other union work will be diminished; indeed, the article reported, the group contributed $60 to different causes in the year 2005.
Moreover, the CTA has also contributed to a number of other ballot initiative campaigns this year, without the heated backlash of the sort being generated by anti-marriage equality teachers.
In part, that may be due to the social hot-button nature of the ballot initiative, which has gotten some teachers so worked up that they are considering leaving the union over its support of the civil rights of gay and lesbian families.
Said one teacher, Jon Hendrickson, “I’m probably going to withdraw my name from the union.”Added Hendrickson, “It’s the only way we’re going to make a statement. Talking does something, but action does more.”
But that might be a recipe for disaster: teachers who do not belong to the union do not enjoy the benefits of its power of representation-and the cushion it provides if, say, a teacher is sued, the article said.
Though the money spent on defending California families is insignificant compared to the $60 million spent on other political causes a few years ago, there’s still a perception that too much money is going toward this particular political campaign.
The article quoted Brad Barber, who claimed, “Even the teachers who are No on Prop. 8 are upset by the money the union is spending on Prop. 8.”
One simple action that could be undertaken by teachers not wishing their dues to be used for political causes: fill out a form saying so. That, according to union officials, is all it takes for teachers who don’t want their dues going to political campaigns to ensure that the money they pay in is dedicated to advocacy for their profession. For some teachers, the stories spread by anti-marriage group Yes on 8 has been effective: pointing to a state law that says that students receiving comprehensive sex ed must take a class on marriage and committed relationships before graduating high school, the Yes on 8 campaign has made the claim that young children, even kindergartners, could be taught about families with two mothers or two fathers.
No on 8 says that these claims are wild distortions, and points out that the state law allows parents to keep their children out of any or all sex ed classes.
But at least one teacher was persuaded that a danger for students exists if gays and lesbians are allowed to continue marrying.
Said Eric Keawekane, whose art class shares a room with a home-economics class, “I listen in sometimes because they share my classroom, and it’s part of the actual curriculum to talk about future planning–and marriage is always part of the discussion.”
Claimed Keawekane, “I don’t hate. I’m not anti-gay, and I have lots of gay friends and colleagues, but I’m totally for Prop. 8.”
Kilian Melloy reviews media, conducts interviews, and writes commentary for EDGEBoston, where he also serves as Assistant Arts Editor.

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