California Educator

April 2015

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 32 of 59

P H O T O G R A P H Y B Y S C O T T B U S C H M A N NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS by Sherry Posnick-Goodwin say educators who teach — or once taught — at the Academy of Personalized Learning. They include respect, dignity, fair- ness, and the right of students to receive a quality education. And then there are basic workplace rights like lunch breaks, fair pay, and not being subjected to bullying or harassment in a hostile work environment. Unions were formed in the 19th century to protect work- ers from such abuse. And it is the same for a group of brave charter school teachers who formed their own CTA chapter to defend themselves from mistreatment — and preserve the quality of a school they care deeply about. It hasn't been easy. A few were fired in retaliation for unionizing. But the battle isn't over, say members who believe they will prevail against an administrator who fired work- ers for no apparent reason right before Christmas, without informing them they had been terminated. We'll meet some members of the Academy of Personalized Learning Education Association (APLEA). They may be a brand-new CTA chapter, but they have lessons to teach all CTA members about standing up for what's right in the face of tyranny, discrimination and cruelty — as well as demonstrating exactly why unions are as relevant today as they were a century ago. "I loved it," says Candy Woodson, recalling her early days at the Academy of Personalized Learning (APL). "It was a great place." At first it felt exciting and innovative at the Redding charter school, which combines traditional classroom activities with online curriculum and independent study in a "blended" learn- ing environment for K-12 students. It was filled with like-minded teachers who wanted the very best for their students, says Wood- son, who taught art, special education and other classes. She never worried about the paragraph on the school's website stating all staff are considered "at-will employees," which means they can be fired without due process or just cause — even if it's on the whim of an administrator having a bad day. She believed, like other teachers who put their heart and soul into making the school succeed, that her hard work and loyalty would be valued and that she would never be treated so callously. She no longer believes that, after being fired without just cause. Some things are worth fighting for, Candy Woodson describes the pain of losing her job without warning at the Academy of Personalized Learning in Redding, while fired colleague Mark Youmans listens. 'DREAM SCHOOL' BECOMES THE Advocacy Organizing 31 V O L U M E 1 9 I S S U E 8

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of California Educator - April 2015