Letter: Teachers union explains school board endorsements
Dear Paso Robles Joint Unified School District voters,
– The Paso Robles Public Educators (PRPE) have endorsed school board candidates since it came into existence when the original two school districts in Paso Robles were merged into one unified district in 1997.
There is a clear democratic process and a committee of teachers, counselors, nurses, and librarians interview any and all candidates who declare for the election and accept the invitation to interview. The committee then sends the same 10 interview questions to the interviewees and conducts follow-up interviews for at least 45 minutes. The committee scores the candidates on a rubric based on their responses and the highest-scoring candidates are selected.
The selections are then submitted to the full PRPE Executive Board and the Site Representative Council for their approval or rejection. PRPE bylaws prohibit the endorsement of any candidates for any other office either locally or statewide other than school board candidates and bond or parcel tax measures. The state California Teachers Association (CTA) and California Federation (CFT) have no role in the PRPE endorsement process. (Just to be clear the three candidates endorsed by Mr. Baker in his letter refused our invitation to interview or never responded.)
The teachers and other certificated employees of the district make up the membership of the PRPE. Over 95% of those employees are members of PRPE. Meetings are held on the first Monday of every month and all employee members and non-members are welcome to participate and express their opinions. The PRPE is a democratic organization that does not always have unanimous support from all its members and non-members. However, if consensus cannot be reached with all then the majority rules.
Mr. Baker can hurl his insults at educated adults who have dedicated their lives to teaching the children of Paso Robles by accusing them of being puppets of CTA. Mr. Baker can attack the teachers and the other professional educators in this community with his appeal to fear, ignorance and hate, but teachers dedicate their lives to their students and that includes all students.
You can ask any of the candidates endorsed throughout the years by PRPE whether or not PRPE has ever required them to vote on any issue in a dictated way. The answer is no. The only thing PRPE asks of candidates is to vote independently, based on their judgment after gathering the facts from as many sources as possible, what is in the best interests of the students of the Paso Robles Joint Unified School District (PRJUSD).
Is it in the best interests of the students to elect trustees who are already declared enemies of the local teachers union? Is it in the best interests of the students to bring forward divisive national issues that consume hours and hours of precious school board meeting time only to be reminded by legal counsel that many of these issues are controlled by state or federal law?
Please vote for Adelita Hiteshew, Jim Cogan, and Sondra Wlliams, involved community members who have students in the district. They will bring current students and parents perspectives to the school board unlike Mr. Baker who already has his voice heard because his wife currently is a PRJUSD trustee.
Paso Robles Public Educators executive director
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