San Marcos Educators Offer Organizing and Advocacy Training
By Ed Sibby
Great teachers are also great advocates. San Marcos Education Association is ensuring North County San Diego members are strong ones.
Through mid-year site representative training, CTA local chapter San Marcos Education Association (SMEA) is strengthening its culture of effective local advocacy. It’s a strength that provides a counterbalance to site administration power; particularly when those in power make decisions affecting members that are in violation of the collective bargaining agreement.
To reinforce that knowledge, SMEA executive board members worked with California Teachers Association staff to repurpose a mid-year representative council meeting, opting instead to host a selection of trainings for 80 leaders and building representatives to strengthen their organizing and advocacy skills. These trainings ensure their site representatives are well-versed in advocating for members and prepared to enforce the contract.
SMEA Executive Board members partnered with CTA staff Erin Clark and CTA Instruction and Professional Development staff Karen Taylor to provide the trainings.
In “Grievance Training”, executive board members Damon Gidner and Mike Sterling broke down the basics of how to meet timelines and move a local contract grievance through the legal process while ensuring their site reps can differentiate a “Grievance” from a “Gripe”.
Samantha Alderton and Alecia Markgraf led an educational and fun “Know your Contract Scavenger Hunt” that took reps through the contract to find information and help familiarize them with the many sections of the document. Leaders were able to showcase the many rights won by past and current SMEA members.
In the “Organizing your Site” training, Brandon Moore and Karen Ives reminded reps that effective advocacy always begins at the site level; regular, effective local practices ensure sites are well-organized and local representation is strong. Members develop a sense of belongingness and support that allows them to become strong and fearless as they advocate for fellow educators and students.
CTA staff member Erin Clark and SMEA leader Dale Pluciennik offered “SMEA Site Rep Training”, walking new and returning reps through the legal responsibility to each member under the Duty of Fair Representation.
Staff member Karen Taylor’s “Sp. Ed Rights” training gave educators of special needs students both information and encouragement to stand up for our most vulnerable students and challenge unlawful district practices if and when they occur- either in or outside their classrooms.
SMEA President Michael DeVries was pleased with the response to the repurposed meeting, overhearing one representative say, “Getting to know my contract was so informative; all our members need to do this!”