By Dina Martin
Jeff Johnston’s triplets
Jeff Johnston has a lot to juggle lately. He’s using his Google calendar to ensure he gets out to 50 school sites, collecting voter commitment cards from members of the Lodi Education Association, planning upcoming phone banks, and, oh yes, fathering the triplets born to him and his wife Nanci a few months ago. The babies are doing great, Nanci’s gone back to the classroom, and so far, the campaign is going well, too.
Johnston devotes hours to Campaign 2012. In addition to the many site visits he’s undertaken, Johnston is counting on LEA members to show up for a Friday night social at a local Mexican restaurant, where he hopes to recruit some for phone banking.
Then it’s a matter of continuing to get out the word, calling in the commitment cards, and phoning up members who plan to vote Yes on 30 and No on 32. With all that going on, Johnston sounds disappointed there isn’t a local school board race going on this fall.
“I would have liked a school board race so we could have dovetailed it into the campaign,” Johnston says. “That way, our members could have seen the tie-in more directly.”
Johnston is reminding colleagues about the two school bonds they helped pass in the last 10 years, and the legislation CTA has worked on, and pension benefits that have occurred, and the curbing of the growth of non-unionized charter schools in Lodi. Much that has been achieved by the advocacy of CTA and local chapters could be threatened should Proposition 32 pass.
“People are getting the message,” Johnston says.
Lodi teachers are also getting the message about the importance of passing Proposition 30. “We’ve been on a layoff merry-go-round the last four or five years, and we’ve had salary cuts. The loss of instruction days is a threat,” Johnston says.
He and the LEA are reaching out to the public in the next weeks. They plan to have a booth at a community fair taking place in early October.
“We’re going to do voter registration there and explain to parents what it’s going to mean if they have to fund 15 more days of day care after instruction days have been cut,” he says.
Talk about being committed to the cause!
Peggy Colwell, a special education teacher at Foothill High School in Palo Cedro, has been politically involved since she was 10. Although she lives and works in a conservative area, she hasn’t run into any problems talking about the election issues with members. “Once people hear the issues, they understand. I haven’t spoken to one person who didn’t get it,” she says. The Shasta Secondary Education Association member was honored for her good work when she received CTA’s Ted Bass Teacher-in-Politics Award in 2006.
Karen Siegel, a retired music teacher in Alturas, has been traveling the highways and byways of Modoc and Siskiyou Counties talking to teachers, a handful at a time. They don’t always agree with her and the conversations can get lively, but her colleagues appreciate that she takes time to drive a couple hundred miles to reach them. “If I can help any of our teachers to understand the importance of this election and of voting, I’m good with that,” she says.
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