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Teachers' Union Official: We Were Communicating, Not Campaigning

Brian Dey, who is running for a seat on the Racine Unified School Board, said he's disappointed that teachers passed out postcards endorsing three incumbents on school property while school was in session.

UPDATE: Jack Bernfeld, executive director for the REA-REAA, said palm cards  were distributed to their union members prior to the work day starting on Monday. Students weren't in school on Monday because it was a staff development day. The cards reminded people to vote and listed the three incumbents names, which the REA Political Action Committee endorses.

"We weren’t doing this during work time and we communicate with our members in a variety of ways," he said. "I’m not aware of anything happening on Friday. I’m not sure if individuals were doing it, or if there was something else going on, but we were not as an organizations in the schools on Friday."

Bernfeld said they did the same thing in 2005 when they endorsed Dey.

ORIGINAL STORY: A Racine Unified School Board candidate is disappointed that teachers passed out postcards on school grounds endorsing incumbent candidates.

The candidate, Brian Dey, emailed Superintendent Ann Laing Tuesday about the issue. He says teachers passed out postcards at schools, when students had a three-hour early release on Fri., Feb. 17.

“It’s my understanding that union members were handing out postcards supporting three incumbents in the primary in several northside schools on Friday,” Dey said. “The policy is not supposed to be campaigning on school grounds or on school time.”

Dey has gone through something similar when he ran in 2005. A special interest group mailed out their campaign endorsements to the community and a question was raised about whether the mailing was really an endorsement, but a ruling was never made in the Racine County Circuit Court it was filed in, he said.

“All politicking stops on school grounds,” Dey said. “If the administration knows it’s going on and they are not enforcing it…. it only fuels the fire with the people who are not happy with the district.”

But in an email Laing sent to Dey this morning, she explained that she was not aware of what had transpired. However, she said she would “reinforce the policy.”

“The policy does state staff cannot engage in political activity on work time; however, staff cannot be prohibited from discussing political issues before and after school time or on their lunch period.  Freedom of speech covers their personal time,” she sated.

Calls made to the Racine Education Association were not returned.

James R Hoffa February 22, 2012 at 08:35 PM
Thanks Denise! Apparently, Mr. Bernfeld doesn't understand what is meant by 'no politicking on district property.' It's just really sad and unacceptable that the administration doesn't do anything about it.
Brian Dey February 22, 2012 at 10:40 PM
Mau- Keep the faith. There showing wasn't all that good. Yes, the union knows that I plan on using the tools given by Walker. I am a threat to their very existence. I was extremely honest with the union's interview, expecting they would make a big push to get me off during the primary. They were extremely motivated and the best they could muster was 4,000 votes in a primary where atleast 12,000 will be needed in the general election. It is our turn to motivate those who want better schools, more efficient spending nad future board members that will not cater to the unions, truly putting children first. Yes they have violated policy unchecked by the Superintendent, spread false rumors and still couldn't muster more votes. Our side basically sat out the primary after the Journal Times said the primary was a mute point and that all 6 remaining candidates would be on the general election ballot. Don't get me wrong, this is not going to be easy, but I think the plan we are bringing forth that they refuse to even discuss; neighborhood school, 9th grade out of the high schools and 6th out of the middle schools, expanding the REAL School and Walden and not closing Wind Point or Goodland, will prove to be the right direction and this election will be a referendum on this plan. Fiscally, after 2013 contract expires, the privatization of the SEIU jobs and using those savings to reduce taxes and put into the classroom.
Brian Dey February 22, 2012 at 10:50 PM
Also Mau, a serious look at 4K and the elimination of the program if it isn't yielding positive results. The elimination of the half days that are problematic for our parents. The requirement that if you are a salaried teach, which they are, they will be expected to work over and above the current 37.5 work week they have now, when needed. The implementation of Parent - Teacher conferences at each quarter to recieve their child's report card. Yes, there biggest fear is a board member that is going to demand excellence from the entire staff; who no longer will except excuse, only results. And of course, Mr. Bernfeld fears for his job, as he should, as well as the cush salary Mr. knotek recieves not only as a speech pathologist, but as a union leader. They have, instead of representing their profession, have denegraded by their illegal actions during the Act 10 passage, the recall effort and in this campaign. If that is the change you want to see, we need all three nonincumbents to win seats. It's not the time to give up (that's what they hope you will do) but to take them head on and expose them for what they are. The union leadership is destroying the reputation of one of the noblest of professions.
mau February 23, 2012 at 03:42 AM
I never felt 4K was a good thing and was more of a baby sitting service than anything else. And an expensive sitting service at that. Over the weekend I was clipping articles of interest from newspapers I had been saving from the past year. I kind of get behind on that job. I came across the articles regarding the referendum. The same incumbent board members were the creaters of that fiasco and now want to be re-elected to do the opposite. I found this from the Racine Taxpayers that falls along the same line as your proposals. http://www.racinetaxpayers.com/jtcommentary.html It's time for a new board.
Brian Dey February 27, 2012 at 01:47 PM
Update: I have sought the opinion of the GAB and I am currently in talks with the district's attorney. Teacher's campaigning during work hours is similar to Walker's aides campaigning during work hours, especially since this campaigning was done on behalf of incumbent school board members.

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