California Educator

October 2012

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2012 ELECTION SPECIAL | ADVOCACY IN ACTION Capistrano teachers' commitment extends beyond classroom doors Photo and story by Bill Guy "IN THE 35 YEARS I HAVE TAUGHT in the Capistrano Unified School District, I would never have thought that we would be forced to a strike, and I never, ever want that to happen again," says Capistrano Unified Education Association President Vicki Soderberg. "We have to work to ensure that it doesn't," she adds, explaining the urgency of CUEA member participation in the CUSD school board race in the south Orange County district. In the spring of 2010, over 2,000 CUEA members went out in a three-day strike when the school board rejected a fact- finding report and imposed a punitive contract, in effect trying to dismantle collective bargaining. Seven months later, CUEA members successfully organized a communitywide effort that recalled two sitting board members and elected three candi- dates who are friendly to public education. "Two of the three CUEA-endorsed candidates are up for re-election. In all, four out of seven board seats are in play," says Soderberg. "The opposition to education-friendly candi- dates — with ties to and potential funding from Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst organization — is taking particular aim at CUEA." If the three opposition candidates should win, CUEA members fear they would join with the two remaining board members who forced the strike, forming a five-person majority. "A recent telephone poll conducted with local voters revealed that they want to hear from teachers in regard to school board issues," says Soderberg. "They trust us to know what is best for our students and our schools." CUEA officers and site rep council members are informing and organizing CUEA members — most of whom were out on the picket lines two years ago — to inform the community. Cam- paign activities include direct mail pieces, phone banks and precinct walks. "I'm confident that our collective voice will resonate with the voters, just like it did two years ago," says Soderberg, adding "CUEA is a strong organization because our individual mem- bers' commitment to excellence in education extends beyond their classroom doors. We realize that the future for students of Capistrano Unified depends on that commitment, now more than ever." CUEA President Vicki Soderburg (right) visits with site reps Chris Elliott and Bobbi Martin about phone banks and precinct walks. Central Valley Republican says YES on 30 and NO on 32 By Dina Martin G AYE LEWIS HAS BEEN "A VOTING REPUBLICAN" all her life, and this is the first time she's been actively involved in an elec- tion campaign. "I love the conversations I've been having," says the presi- dent of the Central Unified Teachers Association in Coarsegold, Madera County. "I love explaining where we are coming from and what's at stake." Lewis is happily surprised that her members understand the importance of this election. 14 California Educator October 2012 Courtesy photo

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