A member of the Oakland, , school board blasted the actions of the local teachers union in a blistering Monday letter announcing her resignation from the board.
Shanthi Gonzales announced her resignation from the board of the Oakland Unified School District in a lengthy resignation letter Monday after moving away from the Bay Area city. She had sat on the board for more than seven years.
In her letter, Gonzales, while counting herself a supporter of labor unions, ripped the Oakland Education Association, the local teachers union, for what she called a "seeming lack of commitment to student success," as half of all students in the district consistently underperform grade-level standards for reading and math, including a 60% underperformance rate in math for elementary school students.
LARGEST TEACHERS UNION SPENT TWICE AS MUCH ON POLITICS AS MEMBER NEEDS
"It is not enough to say that there is poverty and that is why students aren't doing well, or that the state doesn't provide enough funding," Gonzales wrote. "These things are true statewide, and yet other districts with similar levels of poverty and/or funding are achieving much greater results. One reason is that our teachers' association has consistently resisted efforts to address school quality, and organized others against such efforts as well."
Gonzales cited a series of examples of the union's efforts to stonewall changes in the district, including a one-day strike the union held on Friday over a contractual dispute, as well as opposition to efforts to merge or close some district schools.
"It may be true that the working conditions of teachers are the learning conditions of our students, but the interests of teachers and students do not always coincide," she wrote. "For example, we needed to re-open for in-person learning much earlier than we did, because students were suffering, especially students that need special and intensive services. The OEA did everything they could to prevent returning to in-person instruction, even though they knew that we weren't meeting our legal and moral obligations, in particular to our most vulnerable students."
The former board member also accused the union of taking steps to stifle debate when faced with disagreement, most notably by flinging accusations of racism against district leaders and "attempting to silence board members and other community members through acts of intimidation," which Gonzales said included home vandalism, cutting internet cables at board meetings, and "accosting [members] outside their homes at midnight."
CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER
"There is vigorous dissent, which is critical to democracy, and then there is trying to silence debate through intimidation and harassment, which is poisonous to democracy," Gonzales wrote. "The safety of our elected leaders matters, both our physically safety, and also our ability to sleep at night, not have our employment threatened, etc. The union and its allies needs to stop engaging in irresponsible rhetoric that has led to escalating, threatening behavior toward board members."