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.
School Prep Time:
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
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.
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
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!
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: www.cia-g.com/~mcwil99/Exit_Poll.html. 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.
on the web site, learn what really happens at school board meetings. We
print the stuff Central Office sweeps under the rug. For example:
Lewis and her 121-grade elementary school report card to be written this
of school buses redlined by state as too dangerous to drive.
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
The Politics of Teacher Prep
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.
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
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.
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.
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.”
Teachers Union Helps NYC Victims—Gallup on Hold
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
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
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
www.nmft.org, or link to it via our website at www.cia-g.com/~mcwil99.
Viewpoint By Brian Bernard
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.
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
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.
MCFUSE Web Page
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
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
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
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.
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.
TIME FOR CHANGE—AND A NEW SCHOOL
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
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
MEET BILL BRIGHT
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.
Top Down Changes—Help or
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
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
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:
Teachers in Districts With Strong
…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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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!!
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.
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
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 email@example.com with the subject heading “email
New President’s Message – The
War Against Teachers
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
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.
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
DISTRICT REACTS TO UNION
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