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East Texas, Day 1

August 11, 2009 am31 7:29 am

Vacation? Sort of. I am volunteering for the AFT’s “Back to school” program. Last year I went to New Orleans. This year? East Texas.

Arrived in Houston Saturday. Checked in.

Sunday the volunteers (for East Texas and Houston) met with Texas AFT and Texas AFT/PEG (Professional Educators Group) staff. Then our small group divided in two and drove north. A couple took a long, long drive, but us, 3 volunteers and a staffer, stopped at the Texas AFT office in Lufkin.

It was sweltering in Houston. Same in East Texas. They say it’s the humidity. Hmm. The 95 degrees has something to do with it, too.

We woke up Monday, our Day 1, bright and early to arrive at a Convocation by 7. Our first day would be easy, running a raffle, and trying to sign up new members.

This needs some background. Here not everyone belongs to the union, and in fact there are some competing professional organizations. In some parts of the state there is conflict with the NEA affiliate, but, fortunately, that’s not something we will likely see in East Texas. So here we are making the case that 1) it is worth belonging to a teacher’s organization, and 2) that organization should be the AFT.

People were friendly, and the site had good air-conditioning, and the AFT already had substantial inroads – all of which led to unstressful work. We held down the fort as the staffer drove to another event. He returned in time for the raffle and the final push to sign up new members.

In the evening, me and one of the other volunteers went to what seemed like one of Lufkin’s nicer restaurants for dinner. There, sitting in the corner, in suspenders, and holding forth to his dinner companion and a neighboring table (quite loudly) was Charlie Wilson, (Of Charlie Wilson’s War), one of Lufkin’s more prominent residents.

I may delay posting more about Texas until there is something new, exciting, or different. Otherwise, figure it’s pretty much more of the same.

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