Guest editorial by Xavier Miranda
Our school districts continue to face challenges that require the engagement of our community, namely, members of the El Paso American Federation of Teachers.
Unfortunately, we are left to rely on the actions of a union leadership that manages rather than advocates for us.
Below are a few examples of what teachers and support personnel have endured since the start of the school year:
- Many colleagues are feeling overwhelmed and isolated as a result of mandates that remain from the Cabrera administration. Rather than collectively resist, we are left to fend for ourselves.
- The EPISD superintendent search process has been conducted without our community’s input. Yet trustees have already been privately meeting with charter school advocates from CREEED, who seek to take advantage of TX SB 1882, and place a superintendent who will likely permit charter school companies to operate within our district.
- Health insurance rates for this year have increased, effectively nullifying any salary increases we received this year.
- The Texas State legislature and governor have signed mandates that censor our voice and curriculum, and imperil our children’s health. Many are leaving our profession as a result. However, many are primed for collective resistance, but we need to be organized.
- The dismissal of two associate superintendents have left vacancies, one which may be filled by an individual currently sanctioned by the Texas Education Agency for participating in the cheating scandal that exploited our children during the Lorenzo Garcia tenure. Many educators are appalled and demand that trustees override the appointment.
- Given the end of the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, El Paso is now a hub for Afghanistanis seeking asylum. The likelihood of many of these folks settling in our community is motivating those seeking to profit from our education system to ramp up their efforts. The implications of this development will impact the manner in which our schools operate.
- The increase of COVID infection and death rates among our children yet to receive vaccinations, are not being adequately addressed. Our district has received $190 million in ESSER funds, yet teachers have been excluded from the process on how to best allocate these funds to ensure that our children are better served.
These issues would be more effectively addressed if we were to promptly conduct a General Membership meeting. Our input, rather than our consent of leadership’s decisions, would be more authentic and inclusive, and subsequently better serve our children and colleagues.
Lastly, TXAFT and AFT leadership continue to be informed of our concerns, yet deference to the local EPAFT president has been evident. For authentic organization to take place, we need to meet, either via Zoom or in person. Fellow unions have already met at least twice since the start of school.
Hoping El Paso American Federation of Teachers members start calling for a General Membership.
About the Author:
Xavier Miranda is a community activist and a teacher at the El Paso Independent School District. Miranda can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org . Miranda encourages members of the community to engage in helping to establish goals to best serve the children. Miranda may be contacted for additional information.
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