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East Texas – Week 1

August 14, 2009 pm31 10:57 pm

For the past week I have been an American Federation of Teachers volunteer. In, of all places, East Texas. Deep East Texas, they tell me.

A small group of us have been working with two local organizers and members in some local schools, helping build up the AFT in this part of the state.

School opens soon in Texas, and teachers are gathering for mandatory meetings, events, PD… And we have been attending “Convocations” (officially called something else) and “New Teacher Orientations”… I have personally voluntarily participated in a few PD activities… As we recruit members.

There are some things very different here. Schools in Texas are not closed shops. Many teachers do not belong to a union. And there are two unions, and two additional “professional associations” – all competing to some extent for members. Some are stronger in some regions than others. And I have to believe that the NEA and AFT will sooner or later cooperate. But the division exists today, and is not immediately going to be overcome. The professional organizations may be tougher,  especially as one organizes principals and teachers together.

One of the big issues for teachers in Texas is liability insurance. All the organizations provide it, and they must. Teachers can be sued here as individuals, and as rare as this may be, having legal services and liability insurance are very important.

Texas has been hot this summer, and while East Texas has not been close to the worst, 95 degrees each day with amazing humidity – not comfortable. Indoors a/c blasts at all hours, often making the insides of buildings downright chilly. But it also makes the first step into the outside a shock, as the blast of hot air takes the breath right out of you.

Food highlights have been good TexMex, good barbecue, and far too few vegetables, even for my taste.

Break this weekend, down in Houston. But back to east Texas and schools next week…  Only need to stand outside once…

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Jack Israel permalink
    August 15, 2009 pm31 10:24 pm 10:24 pm

    How deep is East Texas anyway? I am in Canada, although not in deep Canada. Fundy National Park to be exact. However I spoke to a teacher from Saint John, NB, and she couldn’t believe that there were teachers in the US who were not unionized. I also spoke to a Candian cop who told me the US cops he has trained with scare him with there love of guns. Frigging Candian socialists? Keep up the fine work!

  2. August 16, 2009 pm31 10:33 pm 10:33 pm

    What sort of things can a teacher be sued for? Sexual harassment? Miseducation? Endangerment?

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