By Mike Myslinski
It’s fair to say that veteran eighth-grade science teacher and enthusiastic labor activist Kevin Thompson keeps the “union” in Union Middle School, where he works in San Jose.
Right now, union work means campaign work, so Thompson joined the ranks of CTA members statewide who are talking about Propositions 30 and 32 right up until Election Day.
“Somebody has to stand up,” Thompson says of why he volunteers. “I am a classroom teacher reaching out to colleagues. CTA staff members can go out and talk to teachers, but it’s a lot different when teachers talk to teachers. It’s a good idea.The mood in the room changes.”
His teaching roots and dedication run deep. A former Santa Clara County Teacher of the Year, Thompson grew up in and around public education. His parents enjoyed long teaching careers — his mother worked for 10 years in his own Union Elementary School District, and his father retired after 38 years in the Mountain View-Los Altos High School District.
A past president of the 225-member Union District Educators Association, and the current UDEA bargaining team chairperson, Thompson sees the damage from cuts in higher class sizes and staffing reductions. He takes his campaign work personally.
“I’m a union guy because I believe in what we do, and I believe that we need to be protected,” he says. “My working conditions are my kids’ learning conditions. This fight isn’t about more money for me — it’s really about a better education for the kids that I teach. The only thing that will get me out of my classroom to volunteer is something as important as No on 32 and Yes on 30.”