Hi <<First Name>>,
My name is Gay Adelmann. I'm sorry to bother you on your JCPS email. I wouldn't do so if I didn't think it was necessary and urgent.
My son is a recent Shawnee High School graduate (Class of 2016). In 2013, I and other parents and teachers started speaking out against segregation, privatization and other discriminatory behaviors and patterns we witnessed in JCPS. By 2015, we formed an organization called "Dear JCPS," and started taking your concerns to the school board in an organized fashion.
When certain school board members refused to listen to our concerns, we organized and led efforts to remove venture capitalists and keep dark money candidates from serving on the JCPS Board of Education. We spearheaded rallies to encourage the early resignation of Superintendent Donna Hargens, creating a pathway for our very own Dr. Pollio to take the helm. We fought back against a state takeover of JCPS, harmful legislation coming out of Frankfort, and attacks from those whose job it should have been to protect and empower our public schools. There have many wins to celebrate!
We gave cover to teachers and parents who justifiably feared retribution for speaking out. And still do so today.
Which is why I wanted to reach out to you and let you know something very important. I, and a number of your colleagues, believe your union is under siege by a handful of squatters who appear to know no bounds when it comes to holding on to their power. They talk out of both sides of their mouths, and behave in ways that are sympathetic to folks with ties to privatizers and Trump's insurrectionists.
In fact, a previous effort to email you was blocked by JCPS's Chief Information Officer, based on a misleading email from JCTA’s current Vice President, Tammy Berlin, and Executive Director, DeeAnn Flaherty. So I am not sure if you’ll get this email either. But if you do, I invite you to visit www.dearjcps.com/jcta for more information. And be sure to vote in your union’s election, which ends Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021 at 5 PM.
On the right, you can see an email exchange that resulted in JCPS blocking an email I sent to 2,000 JCPS teachers. This was not only a violation of a taxpayer and concerned citizen's right to communicate with public sector employees, it was a violation of your right to have access to information that impacts you personally.
JCTA implied the email was from someone “running” for a position but it was actually a petition from me, encouraging Brent McKim to nominate an outstanding JCTA member to serve on the union's political action committee, following the committee's longstanding track record of terrible and controversial endorsements. JCTA also claimed the email was political, although internal union "politics" of a self-proclaimed non-profit, private membership organization hardly fits the description of political material. But even if it did, more egregious "political" emails than this have been permitted in the past. Why request they block this one? Also curious, why did top JCPS chiefs comply?
Could it be they fear what could happen to their power schemes if JCTA members suddenly started paying attention and asking questions? After 20 years, isn't it time to make way for other ideas and perspectives? There's an entire team of candidates ready to step in and fight for what's right!
I know these conversations can be uncomfortable. Many who read this will “not want to get involved.” But I encourage you to do your own digging before tomorrow at 5 PM, and, if you do nothing else, simply exercise your right to vote in this year's JCTA General Election. Don’t sit this one out. This could possibly be your last chance to save your pension, your profession and your union.
If you look at my track record, it should be easy to cut through the distractions and see that my passion is about protecting public education from those who would like nothing more than to make sure children of privilege receive the BEST educations, while a quality public option is stolen from society’s most vulnerable children. These incumbents and their indignant followers demonize and suppress the voices of anyone who dares challenge them, including concerned parents and taxpayers, as well as their own rank-and-file members simply trying to have a seat at the table. This type of behavior is not unfamiliar to us. The closer we get to striking a nerve, the louder the objections and distractions become.
There’s so much more I want to tell you, but if you have been on the fence, I’m hoping this outreach is enough to encourage you to get involved. If there was ever a time to do so, this is it. For your students, for your pensions, for your profession, take back your union, for her members!
Also, if you are concerned about returning to school safely, fellow teachers and parents are organizing around that issue as well. Be sure to complete the form when you visit the website at www.dearjcps.com/JCTA.
Draining the Pensions, a 20-Year Timeline
Kentucky Teachers’ Pension Swansong
Interview with Retired Illinois Teacher and Union Activist Fred Klonsky
The Pension Gamble, PBS
Monday’s Virtual Town Hall
PS. There's a lot of information to share. I'll be adding more resources and links to the website as time allows tonight and tomorrow.