Inside Opinion

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Willie Sutton guarding the bank? Maybe not

Post by Patrick O'Callahan on Feb. 28, 2008 at 5:20 pm |
February 28, 2008 5:20 pm

The teacher’s union president might not be the first person who’d come to mind if you were looking for someone to bargain with the union on behalf of the public. So we asked Interim Superintendent Art Jarvis why he appointed Gayle Elijah – the president of the Tacoma Education Association – as a director of human resources for the Tacoma School District.

Why also asked him how her classroom work qualified her for the specialized administrative work of human resources.

Jarvis had a reasonable answer for both questions.

“Her integrity is respected by everybody within the district administration and within teacher ranks, ” he said. “I would not be concerned about that whatsoever. She is a very skilled and knowledgeable professional.”

As for her qualifications, Jarvis said that Elijah is just about to graduate from a three-year human resources leadership program at Western Washington University.

On the union connection, I’m reminded of Terry Bergeson, the state superintendent of public instruction. She was president of the Washington Education Association before she ran for the state’s top education job. Since then, she’s has had no problem crossing her old union over the WASL and other issues.

Chiming in: Old hands in the Tacoma School District will recall that a couple decades ago the district hired the teacher union’s lead negotiator, Dan Barkley, to become the district’s contract negotiator.

Barkley, long since retired, was highly respected on both sides and was successful in introducing a “collaborative bargaining” approach to teacher contract talks.

–Dave Seago

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