I received this letter from Amin David, President of Los Amigos Orange County that he has sent to CTA President David Sanchez a few weeks ago.Ã‚Â
May 9, 2008
Mr. David Sanchez, President
CALIFORNIA TEACHER ASSOCIATION
P. O. Box 921
1705 Murchison Dr.
Burlingame, CA 94011-0921
Dear PresidentÃ‚Â Sanchez,
First of all, let me congratulate you on your recent election as president of the California Teachers Association. We are very proud of you and truly appreciate your support of teachers across this great state, especially your efforts in protecting proposition 98 funds for our children.
As president and founder of Los Amigos of Orange County, the largest Latino organization in the county, I have been a life long proponent of public education and have worked tirelessly supporting pro-teacher elected officials. Los Amigos has in fact been involved with successful partnerships with primary schools across the state through its initiation of Kindercaminata, the annual community college event supporting kindergartners and their parents. The concept of Kindercaminata was born at a Los Amigos meeting and the first event was held in 1994 at Rancho Santiago College in Santa Ana. Additionally, Los Amigos has been very active in local school bond measures and efforts to protect our schools from draconian budget cutsÃ¢â‚¬â€in particular efforts by CTA over the past 5 years.Ã‚Â So, we have a long and successful relationship with teachers.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â
I am therefore writing this letter with a heavy heart. One year ago, one of our local trustees at the Anaheim Union High School District suffered a critical heart attack and passed on. She was replaced by an extremely controversial former board member named Harald Martin who placed 9th out of 11 candidates in the most recent AUHSD board election. Mr. Martin made national news when he was a board member for making bigoted statements and promoting mean-spirited district policies that run counter to the educational mission of our public schools.Ã‚Â These statements included, arguing vehemently for billing the Mexican government for the education of undocumented students, and pushing for the deputizing of administrators to report undocumented students to the INS. As you can well imagine Mr. Sanchez, this public discourse by Mr. Martin resulted in a tremendously chilly climate for parents and students within our schools at a time when researchers have noted the critical importance of creating inclusive climates for our students and their families as a means of achieving student success–which brings me to what I decided to communicate with you directly.
Despite our community’s relentless efforts to support our schools in Anaheim, Mr. Martin’s most ardent supporter is AUHSD Board Member Katherine Smith. Needless to say, the community was outraged and came together to mount a successful recall of Harald Martin. There were many individual teachers who donated their time, knocking on doors and soliciting votes. Absent from the effort however was the Anaheim Secondary Teachers Association led by its president Linda Barnett.
In response to requests to get involved, Ms. Barnett stated that the union had no disagreements with Mr. Martin and that this was a “community” issue.Ã‚Â We took great offense to her stand and the union’s silence since the Latino community statewide has an outstanding record of supporting CTA initiatives and issues.
For the record, ASTA did get involved after the recall and helped to elect a candidate that we had already endorsed. However, the damage had been done as it is my understanding that this election cost the district in excess of $250,000.
Specifically, what troubles us is that Linda Barnett has announced that her retirement will be hosted by none other than Katherine Smith, the same Board member who supported Harald Martin and who is now up for re-election for the AUHSD Board in 2008. On the surface, this might seem trivial but given the symbolism involved and the total disregard and insensitivity to our concerns, we find this behavior unbecoming an association president.
The Anaheim Union High School District is among the largest secondary districts in the state with a Latino enrollment exceeding 60%. As you well know, the Latino and immigrant community are growing and becoming ever more politically active. While I understand the CTA’s organizational structure of being “bottom up,” we believe it a strategic mistake to allow local presidents to operate in complete disregard to the students, the parents, and the people they ultimately serve.
I wholeheartedly support your comments in your official biography, “that our society’s diversity makes us whole.”Ã‚Â We at Los Amigos are willing to be your partners in helping you to make operational that statement so that the CTA can further develop and enhance credibility with the Latino community.Ã‚Â In fact, we extend an invitation for you to come to Orange County to meet with us.Ã‚Â
Please let us know your thoughts and when can we expect your visit.Ã‚Â Please call me and let me know.
LOS AMIGOS OF ORANGE COUNTY