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The union does not silence teachers

December 08, 2011

It is with great regret that I write this response to last week’s letter to the editor in which an uninformed community member blamed the La Cañada Teachers Association for putting the rights of teachers before our students. It also saddens me that the tenor of the conversations regarding the La Cañada Unified School District has turned sour over the last few months and I hope this letter will be the beginning of a critical healing that must take place within our community. The employees of LCUSD strive daily to work in partnership with parents, students and the community to provide the best possible education for all students.

The implication that the union silences teachers is simply a false accusation. The reality is that until we recently negotiated with the school district to include time to collaborate with our colleagues, there was no time for teachers to be aware of what other teachers were doing in their classrooms. We work in isolated environments and have little or no idea what happens in other classrooms. That is why teachers are apprehensive to talk with parents about someone else’s classroom. The reality is that the only people who are able to see what happens in the classrooms are the administrators. That is precisely why it is their responsibility to evaluate teacher performance and is not the responsibility of other teachers. The Union Code of Conduct, drafted by the California Teachers Association and National Education Association, serves simply as a reminder to teachers to only talk about what you truly know or experience. It would be inappropriate for us to spread rumors, or talk about other employees, without firsthand knowledge. We encourage our members to act in a way that is both professional and respectful.

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The teachers in this school district want to work with parents, students and community members. If you have a question or a concern regarding a particular teacher, I urge you to contact that teacher immediately. If someone is unaware of a concern, it is very difficult to find a resolution. The same is true for the La Cañada Teachers Association. If you have a concern, do not hesitate to contact me. I would love to have a conversation and see if we can work together. Falsely making accusations in the newspaper is not an appropriate way to address these concerns. Let’s all find a way to collaborate in an effort to improve the education we provide for our students, rather than being divisive, which only takes time away from the students we all seek to support.

Mandy Redfern

President

La Cañada Teachers Association

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