The letter I wrote to the Virginian Pilot:
EQUAL ACCESS FOR SCHOOL EMPLOYEES IS NEEDED
A year ago, the Virginia Beach School Board voted to create a policy that severely limits the access of education employee associations. Three current School Board members are active members of the Virginia Beach Education Association (VBEA). The VBEA is a subsidiary of the NEA, also referred to as the national teacher’s union. When some of my colleagues discovered that other employee associations were seeking the same access as the VBEA, the Board quickly developed narrow policy language that prevents other organizations from having the same access to school employees as the VBEA. To my knowledge, the VBEA is the only education association in VBCPS that has access to teacher mailboxes, new employee orientations, reps in the schools, and more.
The second largest education employee association in Virginia is the Virginia Professional Educators (VPE), and they are one example of an association that does not have equal access to VBCPS employees. This seemingly violates Virginia’s Right to Work law which prohibits any “union or organization from acquiring an employment monopoly in any enterprise.”
This monopoly needs to end, and that is why I support legislation carried by Senator Bill DeSteph that prevents school boards from showing favoritism to one association over others. SB1236 states that if one employee association is given access, then all must be given access. The legislation does provide some parameters so that school divisions are not overrun by dozens of organizations. All employee associations that are given access must be organized under a proper 501C status and registered with the SCC.
The VEA’s response to this legislation is that it would “silence educator voices” and that the VEA is “under attack.” On the contrary, this legislation would ensure that the VEA has equal access and that a School Board could not deny them access. If one association is allowed then others must be allowed. How would the VEA respond if the VB School Board created policy language that allowed the VPE access but denied access to the VEA? Why are the VEA and VBEA afraid of competition?
Teachers have told me that they do not want to be members of the VBEA because the organization has become too politically divisive. Evidence of this occurred during the last election season when the VBEA PAC paid for an attack TV ad against Councilman John Moss (whose wife is a VBCPS teacher). Of course, the VBEA and VBEA PAC are separate entities, but they are organized out of the same office with many of the same leaders.
I support more choice for teachers/school employees and less favoritism by School Board members.
Victoria Manning—School Board At-Large, City of Virginia Beach
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