California Educator

September 2011

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MAKING A DIFFERENCE YOUNG LEADERS DEAN VOGEL INTERVIEW BACK TO SCHOOL / FAMILY INVOLVEMENT CAMPAIGN 22 26 28 What do CTA's youngest leaders have to say? PLENTY. And we have plenty of reason to listen. They hold key leadership positions within CTA – and also hold the key to this association's future as a huge wave of educators approach retirement. They offer new perspectives at a time when schools and unions are under attack. They also feel under attack themselves as budget cuts cause school districts to issue pink slips to those new to the profession. They are committed to our union, but they tend to look at things, well, differently. HERE'S WHAT FIVE OF THEM HAD TO SAY. By Sherry Posnick-Goodwin PHOTOGRAPHY Scott Buschman Stephen McMahon, 35 HIGH SCHOOL MATH/LEADERSHIP TEACHER FULL-TIME PRESIDENT, SAN JOSE TEACHERS ASSOCIATION Many younger teachers went through the school system under No Child Left Behind, and they think school is supposed to be all about testing. Older teachers came from a very different system without test- ing. I had some experience as a student when NCLB was just beginning, and I can help to bridge the gap between what pub- lic schools looked like before NCLB and what they look like now. I have the ability to talk to both groups of people when it comes to an internal debate about what our schools should look like. When you have a membership that has differing values, you have to be able to talk to each other first before you can reach an agreement on how to move forward. Lately, there has been a lot of discus- sion about seniority and benefits. You have association leaders at the end of their careers, and they see issues from that per- spective. I'm newer to the profession and have another perspective about health ben- efits and the seniority process. I can bridge that gap. Veteran teachers aren't concerned about being laid off, and younger teachers are. Some veteran teachers feel safe, and younger teachers don't. Younger teachers don't think seniority should be as promi- nent as it is, because they think that no matter how hard they work, they're going to lose their jobs. On the flip side, senior teachers don't want to be moved out just because they're older. You have to find a middle ground and say that if you're doing excellent work you shouldn't be laid off in your third year, and if you have 30 years of experience, you shouldn't be laid off because you're older. As a younger leader, I'm able to have these conversations in a different way. In the past, you may have had younger teach- ers looking at older leaders and saying, "They are only thinking about themselves." But I remind them that we're going to be 30-year employees someday, and when they hear that perspective, they listen more. Again, it's all about promoting dialogue. We need younger teachers speaking up. We need them to be passionate about pub- lic education. Nobody can be an advocate by staying silent. 22 California Educator / September 2011 YOUNG LEADERS

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