COMMUNITY COMMENTARY:

In his article from Jan. 11, “Students, teachers losing out,” Glendale Unified School District board member Chakib “Chuck” Sambar does nothing but reiterate what the Glendale Teachers Assn. has been saying for years: Our state is financially starving public education.

Yet, when the union actively organized public rallies to take action in support of public education on both May 14 and Sept. 5, where was Sambar? He was absent and decided not to reprioritize his schedule to attend.

Yes, during the last couple of months I have seen Sambar’s name frequently in the Community Commentary section of the Glendale News-Press after a three-month absence. The obvious purpose is to gain personal publicity and notoriety for his upcoming reelection bid.

As the Glendale Teachers Assn. president, I find it upsetting to watch this transpire, for it clearly contrasts all of the missed opportunities Sambar has had to lead the district over the past three and a half years of his term.

As we all know, the district’s administration and the teachers union have had an extremely contentious relationship over the last several years.

Here are just a few of the issues on which Sambar’s voice has not been heard: First, the fact that teachers picketed up and down Brand Boulevard because of the poor labor/management communications at the bargaining table.

Second, the fact that Glendale teachers have been forced to file grievances against the district because its management will not follow the agreed-upon contract.

And third, the issue of the district — from the union’s view — not following California law by keeping too many teachers on temporary status in Glendale.

Where has Sambar’s voice and leadership been when we have desperately needed someone to bring a sense of order and respect to the harmful relationship that exists between teachers and district administration? All was quiet on the public front. For the last three and a half years, there has been a vacuum of leadership on his part.

So now, with a few months to go before the election, he will write some letters to the News-Press, criticizing the state leaders for their lack of leadership in Sacramento. But I can’t help but wonder, why is he suddenly feeling the need to write about this issue? Is he really suddenly concerned about the budget crisis, or is his main goal personal recognition for reelection?

For Sambar to point to the government in Sacramento as “those who rule the quagmire of inaptitude,” while remaining silent as the mess going on here in Glendale continued to escalate, is a textbook definition of irony.

We have serious educational issues in Glendale that have been ignored and dismissed for a very long time. But rather than working on the problems affecting our students and teachers here in Glendale, Sambar has remained conspicuously quiet. Now, when he is putting his campaign for reelection into full gear, Sambar finally starts to wake up and get involved. Although I agree with Sambar that the state’s continuing ineptitude is inexcusable, I can’t help but be reminded of the old saying, “The pot is calling the kettle black.”


 ALLEN FREEMON is a Glendale resident and the president of the Glendale Teachers Assn.

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