Action Line

Action Line

May 2002

An Open Letter to the GMCS School Board

The following is the text from a letter sent to the GMCS School Board on April 8, 2002 by MCFUSE President Tom Payton.


Minimizing teacher turnover should be a goal all of us agree on.  Right now many teachers are planning to leave our district this summer.  Four of these reasons are high school prep time, elementary prep time, standards-based report cards, and the treatment of Church Rock Elementary teachers.  You can help minimize this mass exodus of teachers.


 High School Prep Time:  High school teachers fear that their prep times will be cut in half.  Will this save the district money?  Yes.  Will this contribute to teacher workload and stress levels?  Yes.  Are there other districts willing to hire our teachers?  Yes.  If you wait until the summer to address this issue, two things will happen:  one, many teachers will leave because they do not trust the administration to leave their prep intact; those teachers who are not aware of this issue will be demoralized to learn of your summer decision when they return in the fall.  I urge you to not cut these preps in half, but if you do, do it before summer vacation out of respect and fairness to our teachers. 

 Elementary Prep Time:  In 1998 we showed the administration how this was fiscally possible.  At that time our numbers were not disputed.   Providing our elementary teachers with prep time is the number one action that will improve education.  Will it lower teacher turnover?  Yes.  Will it improve test scores?  Yes.  Will it require some administrator sacrifice?  Yes.  You can help by calling for an independent budget review to find this money in our budget, or give MCFUSE unconditional access to all public budget records. 


 Standards-Based Report Card:  Right now Dr. Lewis plans to finalize this with the school board this summer when teachers are on vacation.  If the administration is not going to give teachers a voice on this, then they should at least finalize it now so teachers are not rudely shocked when they return in the fall.  Many teachers who are aware of this issue are concerned about its effect on education quality.


 Church Rock Elementary Teachers:  The quick and unnecessary dismissal of a whole school of teachers sent a signal to all teachers:  teachers have no value in Gallup.  If the administration’s reconstitution plan goes through, at least give CRE teachers priority hire rights in their involuntary transfers.


MCFUSE Wants to Know Why Teachers Leave GMCS!

Visit the MCFUSE website and fill out our web poll. MCFUSE is surveying teachers to find out why they are leaving GMCS. MCFUSE is conducting an exit poll of teachers. On the MCFUSE web page the poll can be found by scrolling down the left hand frame to web poll or you can go directly to the poll by typing the entering URL in your browser: The poll should take only a few minutes to fill out, there are only 7 questions. When the school year is over we will make the results of the poll public. The poll will run through mid-June.


Also on the web site, learn what really happens at school board meetings.  We print the stuff Central Office sweeps under the rug.  For example:


·          Dr. Lewis and her 121-grade elementary school report card to be written this summer.


·          Two-thirds of school buses redlined by state as too dangerous to drive.


·          Who voted to shaft teachers on pay before the budget even came in, and who didn’t.  (Surprise!  It was Annie who spoke up for a pay raise.  Manuel, Bill and Bruce just said no, and JR abstained.)


·           Why teachers must falsify charges of child abuse or risk getting fired.


 Watch us this summer to learn what the board does while teachers are on vacation!

The Politics of Teacher Prep

The plan was to pit elementary teachers with no prep against high school teachers with 90-minute preps.  Put them in one room, tell them there’s no money, and watch them duke it out.


 So when teachers “fail to reach a consensus,” to use the administration’s term, only Central Office is capable of deciding the issue.  What is the plan?  Cut high school preps in half, add 45 minutes and another class of kids to teacher workload, and lengthen the duty day.  Elementary teachers may not fare too much better.  Also, cut health assistants and liaisons to help pay for it.


 Problem is, when they cut the health assistants and liaisons they did not tell the Indian Education Committee about it.  This got parents and classified employees up in arms as well as teachers.


 MCFUSE says, “Leave everything alone except Elementary.  Hire the music, art, and PE teachers out of federal funds, and save the health assistants and liaisons by trimming Central Office.  Those guys are gone so much they’ve had to hire backup administrators to cover the days lost on the road. Highlights of the district’s plan can be found on the MCFUSE web page.

“Welcome to Church Rock…you’re fired!”

That’s the message Central Office is pushing.  “Reconstituting” is the official buzzword.  The plan is to start reconstituting more of our schools in the interest of avoiding state takeover.


After firing the teachers and making them reapply, the next step is to mandate parent involvement.  This includes some good things, like 97% attendance rate, meet with teachers every 45 days, read with students 30 minutes per night, and volunteer 4 hours per month at the school.


Now the other shoe:  failure to meet this contract means your kid gets involuntarily transferred.  This is done after the 40-day count, of course, so CTBS test scores won’t count into the district average.  The gaining school gains the child but not the risk of a low score.  Santa Fe, of course, is kept dumb on all the kids we “leave behind.”

Action Line

October 2001

Teachers Union Helps NYC Victims—Gallup on Hold

New York City’s United Federation of Teachers has coordinated a nationwide effort to help over 8,000 displaced K-12 students from seven Manhattan schools.  Donations of school supplies are coming from individual teachers and classrooms from across the country in addition to corporations.   


Working with our union’s national office, the American Federation of Teachers, over $42,000 has been raised as of September 28th.  Money is pouring in from AFT locals across the nation.


MCFUSE President Tom Payton has written personal letters to Superintendent Gomez and each school board member asking for a temporary lifting of the censorship ban on professional employee organizations so that word can be sent to all employees on how they can help.  This newsletter is only sent to licensed personnel.  Hopefully flyers will soon be on the way to all other GMCS employees telling how they can help our brothers and sisters in New York City.


Contributions to the AFT Recovery Fund go directly to victims, their families, loved ones and others who have been harmed by the terrorist attacks, as well as other organized assistance efforts.   Checks should be made payable to the AFT Recovery Fund and sent to:  AFT Recovery Fund, 555 New Jersey Ave., NW, Washington DC. 

Local Legislators Tops in State

The New Mexico Federation of Educational Employees recently gave local state legislators Patty Lundstrom, George Hanosh, and John Pinto an A+ on educational issues.  The ten most important education bills in each house were used to grade all New Mexico legislators.  Other grades include Lidio Rainaldi, A-; Ken Martinez, B; Leo Watchman, B; and Leonard Tsosie, C.  A review of the Report Card shows our legislators to be New Mexico’s most supportive advocates of education.  You can read the whole Report Card at, or link to it via our website at


Viewpoint By Brian Bernard

The McKinley County Federation of United School Employees (MCFUSE) would like to add its voice to those that have denounced the deplorable and cowardly terrorist actions of September 11, 2001.  This was not only an attack against the United States and our allies but against civilization itself.  We stand behind our country and support the world’s efforts to eradicate all groups or organizations that condone, encourage, provide safe haven for, and knowingly finance such actions.  We call on all Americans and civilized nations to do the same.


Additionally, MCFUSE denounces the abhorrent behavior of some Americans towards their fellow citizens.  The religion of Islam teaches peace, and the vast majority of American Arabs are peace loving and hard working citizens.  Like other ethnic Americans, American Arabs have a rich language and culture but, first and foremost, are Americans.  Muslim terrorists blaspheme the Qur’an and no more represent Islam than right wing radicals and “religious” hate groups represent Christianity.  Terrorism transcends all nationalities, ethnic groups, and religions.  It should also be noted that not all Arabs are Muslim, and not all Muslims are Arab. 


 We in Gallup are uniquely blessed with a multitude of religions and ethnic groups.  We see each other on the street, in supermarkets, in our schools, at sports events, etc.  By getting to know our fellow citizens and learning about their cultures, we gain knowledge, fight ignorance, and enrich our own lives.  Let us not forget the lessons of the past---The Long Walk, the Holocaust, Japanese Internment---but stand together as a nation, as a community, as one.

Why I Joined the Union By Jeanine Russell

Have you ever gone snorkeling in an ocean?  I have; in the Caribbean, off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula.  It’s a wonderful experience.  Scary, too.  One of the most impressive experiences I recall has to do with the arrival of a some fish.  I do not know what kind of fish they were, but they were silverish with a horizontal yellow stripe along their sides.  I thought that they were pretty big, but in fact they were probably about six inches long.  What made them so impressive was their collective behavior.  From a distance, they looked like a whale.  Like a large, dark shape looming larger and larger as they came closer and closer.  But when within range, I could see that they were actually a school of fish.   The other thing was that they moved in precision, like they were of one mind.  They weren’t.  They were communicating with each other.  I could tell, because, through the water, I could hear their talk. Lots of clicks.  I think that those fish were so used to swimming together they were attuned to one another.  They knew how to tune in to one another.  They knew how to swim together.  Their movements were effortless, beautiful.  Like a well  choreographed dance.  And the way the light played upon them, it was spectacular!  I think that joining the Union is a step in that direction.  Working together.  Communicating.  Setting a higher standard, collectively.  All-inclusive.  A higher experience of what it is to be an educator.  I think that together we can accomplish more than we can individually.   We can be inspired.         We can inspire.  I can no longer accept the notion of a patriarchal administration.  It doesn’t work.  Statistically  speaking, districts with strong unions enjoy successful academic performance.  Unions set the standard.  Together, we are spectacular!   So, let’s get together more often, inspire one another and affect positive change through our collective efforts.



August/September 2001

Albuquerque Contract Victories


Collective bargaining paid off for the Albuquerque Teachers Federation for the 2001 to 2002 school year. In addition to the 8% pay raise, teachers at “Schools in Need of Improvement” may receive differential compensation for professional development. At each of these schools, funding will be provided for professional development based on a formula of $500 per each educator on the A1 salary schedule (Teacher Schedule) at the school.
Decisions about the differential will be made according to the SRC(restructuring council) language in the contract. Teachers receiving the  differential will be responsible for a professional development portfolio. All academic and coaching differentials will increase 5%. Out-of-district experience was increased from six to ten years, and it applies to all current and future employees. Duty days were decreased. Other improvements to the teacher contract addressed summer pay, staff development time, transfer rights, and bilingual/ESL differential.

In 1999 the Albuquerque School Board voted to retain collective bargaining. This continued the contract for teachers that is annually negotiated between the administration and ATF. In Gallup our school board voted to terminate collective bargaining and the existing contract. District teachers now fall under school board policy. The only contract is the salary contract. Other rights such as sick leave, grievance procedures, duty day length, etc., are subject to change at the pleasure of the school board.


New Teachers Get $7,000 “Bonus”

On August 6 the school board voted to give newly hired teachers credit for up to 20 years of out-of-district experience. The school board denied this credit for teachers already employed by the district.


Teachers hired two years ago were only allowed up to eight years of out-of-district experience. At Step 10, BA+45/MA, where many of these teachers are, they earn $35,664. An equivalent newly hired teacher with 20 years experience earns $42,549.


Three years ago when our district had collective bargaining, MCFUSE argued for “equal pay for equal work.” MCFUSE’s position was that it was unfair to pay newly hired teachers more than presently employed teachers. The issue went into arbitration, and MCFUSE won.

Last year the administration’s Interest–Based Problem Solving Team recommended that 10 years out-of-district experience be given, but not to returning teachers. The IBPS Team is comprised of administrators, employees, school board members, and community volunteers. It is the administration’s replacement for collective bargaining. They make all salary, benefit, and working condition recommendations to the school board.


Superintendent Robert Gomez stated at the August 6 school board meeting that he would study the issue of giving equal pay to returning teachers with more than eight years of out-of-district experience. MCFUSE will follow this issue and continue to lobby for equity.



New features can be found on the MFUSE web page. The first feature is the virtual tour of the Gallup-McKinley County Schools, called The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly. As the name implies, schools are shown as is. This photo essay concentrates on county schools. The objective is to show all the schools as one entity. For many teachers, even those that have been in the district for years, this will be an opportunity to “visit” all of the schools in the district.


The second new feature is called Homework Help. This service of MCFUSE is designed to aid both students and parents with homework questions. This page has a variety of links available, focusing on Math.


The third feature is called Eyes on the Board. This will feature highlights of the latest GMCS School Board meeting. This is also mailed out to members.


Another feature is a web poll. Opinions of the latest issues in GMCS are solicited. Email links to the MCFUSE leadership are also available on the page, as well as a forum for teachers to air concerns.


Many more exciting features can be found on the MCFUSE web page. Plan to visit the web page and sign the guestbook.


MCFUSE Apologizes to School Board

The MCFUSE website reported in its July 16 “Eyes on the Board” that on May 17 the school board “presumably approved” a second teacher salary schedule for “new/incoming teachers” that reduced salaries up to $1,000.


At the August 6 school board meeting MCFUSE learned that the school board was unaware of the lower salary schedule for new teachers. Due to MCFUSE’s publicly exposing the illegal salary schedule, the school board was able to correct this problem before salary contracts were offered to new teachers.


MCFUSE apologizes for any misunderstandings it caused the school board. MCFUSE also thanks School Board Member Bill Bright for clarifying this issue at the August 6 school board meeting.


Administration Lauds AFT at Early Learning Summit

Both Secretary of Education Rod Paige and Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy Margaret La Montagne enthusiastically acknowledged the AFT 's contribution of reading materials and professional development to the field of early childhood learning at a July 26-27 "White House Summit on Early Childhood Cognitive Development." Secretary Paige singled out just two organizations for special praise--the AFT and the National Head Start Association. AFT educational issues department staffer Darion Griffin told the summit's 350 participants about the AFT's Educational Research and Dissemination program (ER&D) and showed them a sample reading lesson for kindergartners developed by the AFT with other reading experts. Griffin was the only representative from a public education organization to speak at the meeting, which was hosted by First Lady Laura Bush. Among the prominent political leaders and researchers who spoke at the summit were Tommy Thompson, Secretary of Health and Human Services; Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.); Susan B. Neuman, Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education; and Lynne Cheney.



Membership Meeting

MCFUSE will resume monthly breakfast meetings. The first meeting of the year will be held at the El Rancho Hotel in Gallup at 10 AM on Saturday, September 8. Breakfast will be provided. Breakfast meetings will be held at the El Rancho the first Saturday of every month.


Criminal Charges Filed Against Teacher

This summer a school employee defended herself against criminal charges of assault and battery involving an elementary student. The alleged incident occurred early in the 2000 to 2001 school year.


According to the employee, the district did not offer to provide an attorney. New Mexico law normally requires the school district to arrange for the defense of their employees. The employee had made arrangements on her own to have an attorney.

An assistant superintendent observed the trial. When a MCFUSE official asked him why the district was not providing an attorney, the district representative replied, “Are you a lawyer?” When MCFUSE persisted, all that the representative would say is, “This is different,” and “We’re here.”


The employee was found not guilty. She was not a union member.


February/March 2001


On February 6th Gallup voters supported MCFUSE’s campaign theme of “Time For Change” and voted both Districts 4 and 5 incumbents out.  Replacing Joe De La O on the city’s west side on March 5th will be Bill Bright, a retired teacher and active community volunteer MCFUSE endorsed and campaigned for.  Replacing Ken Holloway in District 5 will be Dr. Bruce Tempest.  Both Bright and Tempest campaigned to restore respect for teachers and open our educational system more to the public.  J.R. Thompson ran unopposed in the one county race.  Positions currently held by Annie Descheny and Manuel Shirleson will be voted on in two years.  School board positions are four-year terms.

MCFUSE estimates its army of volunteer teachers, parents, postal workers, and local activists went to 70 percent of the homes in Gallup.  An aggressive campaign of phone banking all private and public sector AFL-CIO members also helped get out the vote for Bill and Marty.

MCFUSE concentrated its efforts on the local community.  The school board’s current censorship policy against teacher unions prevented MCFUSE from informing teachers on the voting records of the incumbents and the pro-teacher policies of the candidates.  MCFUSE received several reports that city administrators were urging support for the two city incumbents.  In the last two years the school board had approved pay raises for Central Office administrators ranging from $6,000 to $9,000.

MCFUSE-endorsed candidate Marty Esquibel made a strong showing in District 5, beating Holloway 252 to 235.  Esquibel was strongest in Indian Hills and Mossman, two areas MCFUSE campaigners hit the hardest.  Holloway was strongest on the “Hill” which MCFUSE had hoped would split more evenly between Holloway and Tempest.  Dr. Tempest won handily with 656 votes.  Much of the 30-year resident’s strength was believed to come from the medical community where Dr. Tempest is highly respected.  Holloway’s recent vote against teen clinics in Thoreau and Crownpoint High Schools may have sparked a high medical voter turnout.  Recent studies show McKinley County as one of the leading places in New Mexico for sexually transmitted diseases.  Tempest also ran a highly organized and aggressive campaign, targeting education and medical professionals who support quality schools.  Tommy Crow received 89 votes and Steve Boos received 50 votes.

The MCFUSE strategy for District 4 was similar to that used in District 5.  Volunteers hit Mentmore, Stagecoach, Western Skies, Gamerco, downtown, and the Northside.  Areas De La O had carried four years ago largely swung over to Bright or were dead even.  De La O was reportedly helped by school board ally Annie Descheny, perhaps accounting for his Rock Spring Chapter House victory.  Mentmore, Stagecoach, and Western Skies gave Bright the margin he needed to beat De La O 241 to 203.  Danny Unale finished with 70 votes.  Beating De La O was especially important for advocates for quality education as De La O has been the superintendent’s main supporter for cutting back teacher pay raises, benefits, and working conditions while increasing money spent on administrator salaries.


What can be done to improve our schools?  School Board Member Bill Bright wants to know!  MCFUSE will be inviting teachers, parents, and other community members to express their views to Bill by sponsoring a series of forums on educational issues.
 What are your concerns?  What will help teacher retention?  How can we improve student performance?  MCFUSE believes the solutions to our problems can be found in our community, not in the bank account of out-of-state management consultants promising quick-fix miracles.  You can help!  We all know who the active parents are.  Start now compiling a list of their names, addresses, and phone numbers.  When we set the first meeting up, we will contact them.


December 2000

Top Down Changes—Help or Hindrance?

by Tom Payton
 This year we are seeing many changes being directed by Central Office administrators.  All of these changes seem to be in response to the high failure rate of our schools.  We started the year with the electronic grade book.  Because a Gallup administrator talked to another administrator in some district who claimed to like it, it must be good for Gallup.  I suppose it sounded good on paper.  Happily it died a sudden death at the urging of our principals.

 Other ideas that sound good on paper are documenting standards in lesson plans, standards-based report cards, and year-round school.  The first two ideas shift the focus of teachers away from teaching toward documentation.  Perhaps some teachers will appreciate all the extra paperwork this will create.  Perhaps these teachers need this extra work to focus on their lessons.  For them, these ideas should be viewed as helpful options.  For those who think otherwise, I am reminded of a story School Board Member Ken Holloway told me from his teaching days:  Whenever Ken got a new principal, he would tell him that if he needed his help, he would ask for it, but if he didn’t ask for it, don’t give it.

Year-round school is another flip-flop idea some administrator dreamed up without considering whether this would be good for our community.  When summer ranch chores, tourist season, powwows, and rodeos come up, what will be the effect on student attendance?

When Gallup administrators recently briefed local legislators about accountability, they complained that the attendance standard of 94% was not research-based.  Are any of these new changes research-based?  Or are we fixing things that are not broke?  The problem is not report cards and lesson plans, the problem is high teacher turnover.  The answer to this is easy:  listen to teachers.  When ten of our schools were recently selected as high improving, we proved to the entire state that our teachers are among the best in New Mexico.  The problem is that not enough of us stick around.  One word, Central Office:  Listen.

Teachers in Districts With Strong Unions…

 …have their medical benefits paid 100%…do not have playground or cafeteria duty…have personal leave that is “personal”…actually receive pay raises approved by state legislators…are supported with money for books and supplies…work in schools with effective student discipline policies…are teachers, not documentation clerks…

Superintendents Meet Local Legislators

Gallup, Grants, and Zuni superintendents and school board members hosted a dinner for ten local legislators on November 16 at Best Western Inn in Gallup.  Of the ten legislators  invited, only three showed up.  Dinner reservations for thirty were made, but less than half that number showed up.  School Board members Ken Holloway and Joe D La O represented Gallup, and Grants brought one board member.  None showed from Zuni.

After hearing administrator complaints about accountability, Senator Lidio Rainaldi, Representative Patty Lundstrom, and Representative Leo Watchman, Jr., asked many questions.  Their questions ranged from attendance to impact aid to why districts don’t give their teachers pay raises.  MCFUSE members Tom Payton and Rosa Armstrong attended the meeting without an invitation.  Using the Open Meetings Act as their authorization, they were allowed to sit off to the side and listen.

Some of the information the superintendents presented was questionable.  MCFUSE President Payton sent a written response to the legislators voicing concerns about avoiding accountability and teacher raises.  Members who would like a copy of the response are encouraged to request one.

Friends of Education

 MCFUSE welcomes two new Friends of Education:  Jerry’s Café and Shi’Ma Traders.  School employees are encouraged to support these supporters of local schools.

New State Federation “Field Rep”

 Elmer Jackson replaced Aileen Valdez as our Field Representative for MCFUSE.  Elmer has many years of organizing experience in New Mexico, and has been previously assigned to Gallup.  Some of you may remember that Elmer set up our present office on Coal Avenue.  Increasing membership will be one of Elmer’s first priorities.  You can meet Elmer at our next Members’ Meeting on December 9th.
 Aileen’s many accomplishments in Gallup have not gone unnoticed by state federation officers.  She has been assigned the task of organizing UNM in Albuquerque, and may be making trips to “the Branch.”   Over the last few years Aileen has been especially effective in negotiating contracts, working grievances, and advising MCFUSE’s new president.

Next Monthly Members’ Meeting

The next monthly MCFUSE Members’ Meeting will be Saturday, December 9th, Gurley Hall, UNM-Gallup.  The room number will be posted inside the main door.



State School Board Member Visits MCFUSE

On October 7th State School Board Member Christine Trujillo met with local teachers at UNM Gallup’s Calvin Hall auditorium in a meeting open to all school employees.  State House District 5 candidate Patty Lundstrom also spoke at the meeting.

Christine voiced her concern that school district administrators are using the probationary status of their schools to generate superfluous paperwork for their teachers.  She cited a school in Gadsden where the principal made all his teachers document which standards they were teaching to in their lesson plans.  State Board Members were successful in getting the principal to stop this counterproductive practice.  Christine expressed concern that Gallup may be making similar mistakes.

Another concern discussed was community involvement in EPSS.  Parents and teachers need to be involved, and this does not appear to be true at all schools.  Christine stated that if administrators were doing a good job involving the community, then they should have little problem meeting SBE criteria for attendance and other measurements.  She said that teachers couldn’t be expected to go into homes and drag students to school, but that if administrators have developed good community programs, improving attendance should be possible.  She further stated that teachers need to concentrate on being good teachers, and administrators must begin accepting accountability.

Other concerns she expressed were districts that spent money on computers while letting their buildings fall apart, the need for criterion-referenced tests, meaningful professional development, and teaching to a curriculum instead of a test.  Another concern was superintendents who complain about being held accountable, but offer no corrective actions for improving their probationary schools.

Patty Lundstrom stated that education was a number one issue, and that she was interested in hearing from teachers.  Teachers discussed with her some of the many problems Gallup schools have.  She was interested in learning more about how the district is making the test and standards the curriculum.  MCFUSE members told Patty how Superintendent Gomez had opened a principal’s meeting and the August in-service to her opponent Dan Kruis.

Eight Schools Upgraded From Probationary Status

Eight New Mexico schools were recently upgraded from Probationary status to Meets Standards.  Five of the schools were in Albuquerque and three were in Deming.  Albuquerque now has 27 Probationary schools, the same as Gallup.  In an October 6th KYVA/KTHR interview, Superintendent Gomez stated that he did not apply for any of our schools to be upgraded.  When asked why, he said he did not know what the state’s criteria were.

Districts With Collective Bargaining…

…have a voice in professional development.  This includes the nature of training as well as the number of in-service days, and when these days will be scheduled.  Questions that can be asked include, do we really need ten in-service days?  (Eleven if you count Dr. Ruby Payne’s visit.)   Is it better for all teachers to go to one location, or is it better to train in our individual schools?  These are issues decided by teachers, not administrators, in collective bargaining districts.


Action Line
September 2000

27 Probationary GMCS Schools
By Tom Payton
When the Firestone tire story broke, a spokesman blamed consumers for under inflated tires.  While it's true that this will cause blowouts, was this the main problem?  Likewise, we can also offer many excuses for our high failure rate.  Lets stop the blame game.  Lets admit there is a problem and start looking for solutions.

Districts that were more successful than us include Taos, Grants, Albuquerque, Las Cruces, and Santa Fe.  One common factor is that all these districts have collective bargaining.  Teachers and other school employees are respected as part of a team.  Many of our local teachers led their students to great academic gains these last few years.  These teachers deserve to be heard.  By organizing, we can have a stronger voice to implement our ideas.  This in turn will help lower teacher turnover.  By joining MCFUSE, you can help replace paternalism with teamwork. The same way our successful teachers work with parents based on mutual respect, teachers and administrators need to work together.  Lets stop talking about the GMCS Family, and form a GMCS Team in its place.

Why Your Phones Don't Work
Wonder why the voicemail light doesn't work, or why you can't receive calls?  According to our Central Office contact, it was felt that telephone calls would disrupt teaching.  All teacher extensions were therefore blocked from voicemail, and new GMCS voicemail extensions assigned.  Some teachers have even reported that the audix extension is blocked. Your GMCS extension will not disrupt your class by ringing in your room, and when you receive voicemail on it, the courtesy light does not notify you that you have a message.  If the GMCS block was removed from your real phone extension, you could activate and deactivate your voicemail, and choose to avoid having the phone ring while you were teaching.

The Politics of Education
Tom Udall, US Congressman for the third district of New Mexico, has been working hard for education this summer.  Over $10.4 million will be coming to New Mexico this fall to fund lower class sizes for grades 1 through 3.  Class sizes are to be 18 or fewer.  He's also working hard to improve teacher quality, recruit new teachers, lower class sizes, renovate school facilities, further fund Head Start, support bilingual programs, and fund increased technology. Tom is up for reelection this November.  Are you registered to vote?  You can do so visiting the McKinley County Courthouse at 201 W. Hill in Gallup. Or call at 722-4469.

Action Line
May/June 2000

The Worst School District in New Mexico

Last October when the State Department of Education declared 1/3 of Gallup-McKinley County’s schools “low performing,” it was evident to all New Mexico that our district is the worst place to be a student. The excuses Superintendent Gomez offers; unfair tests, unfair standards, mobility, and the Navajo language; only make the Gallup McKinley county Schools look worse. Meanwhile, Central Office kept right on briefing “continuing improvement” to the School Board, conveniently ignoring the State Accountability Reports.

The New Mexico Code of Ethics of the education profession prevents MCFUSE from standing by and saying nothing while the quality of education in this district falls to record lows. The administration does not listen and they have “fenced in” the School Board with half-truths. Barring a dramatic change in School Board attitude, the only hope for our children will come from outside institutions. Because Superintendent Gomez will not listen to his employees’ democratically elected representative, MCFUSE, has asked for a resolution from the NMFEE declaring the Gallup-McKinley County School District the worst place in New Mexico to work. There are lots of “lost rights’ we could talk about in this newsletter, but that would only detract from the central message: teachers leave this district because they are treated unprofessionally. High teacher turnover hurts the quality of education.

Why Teachers Should Return to Our District

We all know the reasons why teachers should leave:  unprofessional conditions, the Joe DeLaO anti-teacher motions, no preps, cheated pay raises, lack of Central Office support, senseless paperwork, and about a hundred other reasons.

Weigh the bad with all that is good about working here:  super students, supportive parents, a wonderfully diverse culture, good principals (okay, for most of us anyway), a community that loves and cares about its children, beautiful land, mellow weather, no traffic jams (Boardman Dr. and 666 are exceptions), no pollution, the Coffee House, El Morro Theater, unlimited tourist sites within a day’s drive, great hiking, great mountain biking, great Mexican food, a 10% teacher discount at Dominic’s….and maybe a couple hundred other things.

MCFUSE is asking you to remember the many advantages to living in McKinley County.  Never mind Central Office and the DeLaO motions—if we stick together those impediments can be overcome.  Please don’t spend your summer looking elsewhere—Gallup and the Navajo Nation have a lot to offer, including a community that supports its teachers.  See you in August!!

Campaign 2000

Along with this newsletter we are sending your building rep some forms for absentee voting, early voting, and voter registration.  The June 6 Democratic primary will probably determine the winner in November.  For Gloria Howes’ old Senate seat, we are endorsing Dave Pederson.  Of all local politicians, Dave is by far the biggest supporter of both education and unions.  Dave is running for District 4, which covers Navajo, Gallup, Breadsprings, Zuni, Ft. Wingate, and Ramah.  For District 5, Gallup, we are endorsing Rosemarie “Shorty” Sandoval.  Shorty’s work in supporting city employees is well known.  Shorty is also a big supporter of education.  For District 69—Thoreau, Smith Lake, and Crownpoint to Grants—we are supporting Ken Martinez.  Ken helped Dave Pederson, Gomez, and us fight the “Impact Aid Battle.”  Like Dave, he’s also a proven supporter of education and unions.  More information will be forthcoming on the MCFUSE web page.

Summer Membership Drive

MCFUSE will conduct a summer membership drive. Any school employee that joins MCFUSE is eligible to join for $10. The $10 rate will cover the months of May, June, July, and August, 2000 After this period, the normal dues structure will apply. All membership rights and privileges will apply, including liability insurance.


Action Line
March/April 2000


De La O Sets Stage for Four More Years of Gomez

At the December 13th School Board Meeting, Member Joe De La O motioned that Gomez’s contract be extended one year starting July 1, 2000.   At the same meeting, De La O motioned a set of sweeping school board policy changes that included the option of extending the superintendent’s contract for three years.

With the existing authority to extend Gomez’s contract anytime during his contract, this means that on July 1st De La O can motion for three more years to be added to the one-year contract.  That will lock in Gomez for four more years, bringing his total to eight years in our district.

With the possibility of a state takeover highest this summer, a superintendent “buyout” would cost four times his current salary of $105,000.

Four Years of Continuing Failure

On February 22nd MCFUSE briefed the school board on the downward spiral in learning our elementary students have suffered the last four years.  MCFUSE believes this is partially due to Central Office’s failure to offer music, art, and PE for our children and a “prep” period for elementary teachers.  This has contributed to high teacher turnover and a resultant decline in student performance.  In an interview with the Independent, Gomez called this “political baloney.”

Gomez Fires MCFUSE President From IBPS Team

On February 16 Superintendent Gomez fired MCFUSE President Tom Payton from the Interest Based Problem Solving Team.  Gomez’s letter stated, “Your opinions to the press and radio show indicate that your presence is to disrupt and foil the commitments made by participating members.”

Payton had talked with journalists from radio station KYVA and the Independent about problems with the IBPS process.  Some of these problems included the failure of Central Office to share public budget documents, paying IBPS Team members (including administrators) $300, and blocking MCFUSE attempts to inform school employees of decisions being made.  Other problems include the 9-month lockdown on teacher contracts Gomez proposed to state superintendents, teachers handpicked by Central Office to represent all teachers, nonobjective facilitators, shortchanging teachers of 1.5% of their salaries this year, and closing the meetings to the public.

At a February 2nd meeting, Payton expressed concern that the process seemed similar to the old Task Force when Central Office administrators “spoon fed” employees changes they would approve of.

“It is unfortunate that Central Office won’t allow open and free discussion of our district’s many problems,” said Payton after the firing.  “If Central Office won’t open the budget books, how can trust be established?”


Both MCFUSE and NMFEE need to keep in contact with members. One way to do this is through email. This past legislative session, NMFEE sent out legislative alerts. If a special session occurs, NMFEE plans to continue this. Because MCFUSE is barred from putting literature in school mailboxes, email can also be used to distribute this. If any member, or anyone, wishes to receive MCFUSE and NMFEE email, please send your email address to with the subject heading “email alert.”


Action Line
February/March 2000
New President’s Message – The War Against Teachers
Tom Payton

 According to President Dwight D. Eisenhower, “Only a fool would try to deprive working men and women of the right to join a union of their choice.”  On July 1, 1999, and again on December 13, 1999, Central Office met Ike’s definition head on.

On July 1 Central Office deleted payroll deduction for MCFUSE in a no-notice attack on the district’s legally elected employee representative.  Our membership went from 438 to zero in the blink of an administration computer’s eye.  This act put Central Office on record as at odds with the country’s second largest professional education organization – the American Federation of Teachers.  It also showed the level of disrespect Central Office holds toward teaching as a profession.

On December 13 Central Office pushed through the School Board a school mailbox policy that specifically locks out “employee organizations.”  Retired administrator Joe De La O made the motion for the School Board vote.  Result:  most employees will not “be allowed” to read this newsletter.  School mailboxes will only provide “politically correct information,” as defined by Central Office.

The Central Office War on Teachers was again escalated at the January 24, 2000 School Board meeting with more changes to employee rights affecting grievance procedures, personal leave, and extracurricular duties.  These changes were explained in a detailed letter to members.  Call me if you want a copy, or check our website for details.

As MCFUSE President, I will work to bring quality education, competitive salaries, and professional conditions to our district.  I will also continue Dorothy’s work in exposing the dysfunctional aspects of our district.  AFT has redefined the 3 R’s as Responsibility, Respect, and Results.  Central Office, listen up.


Dorothy' Farewell
 Dorothy Wilkinson

Goodbye and best wishes.  This is the last time I will write a column for Action Line as a member of MCFUSE and the McKinley County educational community.  When you read this newsletter I will be in my new home in Albuquerque, seeking my fortune and helping my family.

I will always remember my twenty-eight years as a teacher in this district and our struggle to improve working conditions and the education system.  I have made many good friends.  I will miss the students, who are some of the most courteous children I have ever met, and I will miss you, my colleagues.  I will also miss the fight to make this a better system for you and for the students.  But there is always a time to say goodbye, and that time has come for me.  I leave MCFUSE in good hands.  Tom Payton will be a very good president.  He cares about fairness and equality.  The executive council is very dedicated and between Tom and the executive council, MCFUSE will thrive and will continue, with dignity and integrity, to represent members.

I urge each employee to become involved with MCFUSE and to fight for and win the right to representation of your choice.  That right was stolen from you this summer.  You lost much when you lost collective bargaining, but if you work together you will win that right again.  In the meantime, MCFUSE is the only voice speaking for you.

So, I have come full circle, from a time of struggle, when the union, as the only true voice of the employees, had to shout and fight just to represent you, to a time when your voice was heard, back to a time of struggle for the basic right of representation most school employees across the nation take for granted.  And it is time for me to move on and make way for others to take up the struggle.  I wish you the best and in my heart I will always be with you and MCFUSE.


Action Line
December 1999


The District has banned all material that is not from the school district from employee mailboxes.  MCFUSE believes this is an attempt to prevent us from communicating with employees.  We will leave newsletters and flyers in staff rooms and building representatives will distribute the material in some schools.  We are sorry for the inconvenience this has cost employees.

 If it is the district's aim to promote better staff morale by trying to stop a dissenting voice, ultimately it won't work.  This effort will not make people want to continue working for the Gallup-McKinley County system and it will