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James Isreal


What position are you running for in the WTU? WTU President

If you are running on a slate, provide the name: N/A

What school(s) do you work at? Hart MS

What is your current role at your school? AVID Elective Teacher, WTU Building Representative, Acting LSAT Chair

How many years have you worked for DCPS? 6.5

Describe your leadership experience, including what you have done in the WTU I've been negotiating and pleading cases with a Supreme Court Justice/former Dictator i.e. my mother, since I as long as I can remember (she is not an actual justice or dictator). Class of 2005 Freshman Class President 2001-2002, Charter Member of South Carolina State University Phi Alpha Delta Pre-law Fraternity Chapter, 2002 SC State Student Government Association Recording Secretary 2002-2003 Class of 2005 Junior Class Senator, 2003-2004 SC State Student Union Board – Special Events Chair, 2003-2004 SC State Student Government Association - President, 2004-2005 House of God International Ministries-West Palm Beach • Finance Ministry • Fundraiser Ministry • Special Events Administrator National Pan-Hellenic Council – West Palm Beach • Treasurer January 2014 Palm Beach County Classroom Teacher Association Life Skills Center – Delray Beach, Lab Coordinator, Assistant Principal and Principal Hart Middle School Team Lead, Building Representative, LSAT Chair DCPS 6th Grade District Course Chair Washington Teachers’ Union Vice President of Junior High School  Organizing Committee Co-Chair/Chair  Personnel Committee Caravans to DC Councilmembers, Chancellor, and Mayor's home Protests at the Wilson Building Collective Action: Suggested the Mental Health Day in 2020 Motions on the Executive Board to effect Certification, IMPACT, etc.

Why are you running? (Max. 1000 characters) Weeks before the late President Elizabeth Davis past away, she called a special meeting of the executive board due to her concerns regarding the updates being made to the Bylaws that would prevent her from running a fourth consecutive term for president. While waiting for her virtual arrival to no avail, I posed the question to the board members present that who among us could take the reins that President Davis has helped establish the WTU to be without things skipping a beat; not even our General Vice President was invited to the table to have the experiences needed to do so. At that moment, I knew we needed someone as president, who wouldn't hoard power, be tainted the exaltation, and who understood the need for building member capacity to do the work of the union with provided experience to ensure the vitality of the union for years to come As an executive board member, who still works in the classroom, I know first-hand the unsafe working conditions the majority of us have endured during this pandemic when our collective bargaining agreement should’ve prevented us from being sent into unsafe working conditions that were free from hazards that cause accidents, injury, or ILLNESS to employees i.e. COVID; however, our rights were wrongfully negotiated away through collective bargaining. As a fellow educator, I had the racially discriminatory teacher evaluation tool IMPACT weaponized against me back in SY 2018-2019, for speaking up against my evaluator when he attempted to belittle my colleagues and I that violated our collective bargaining agreement. After writing my own 10-14 page grievance with over 150 pages of evidence, our employer is seeking to negotiate a resolution after two years, which if the WTU was implementing the Joint-Grievance Committee from our CBA, shouldn’t have taken as long as it did. As an executive board member, I have attempted to champion teacher concerns and issues to include certification extensions, training of Building Reps and Executive Board members, suspending IMPACT, the WTU taking legal actions against DCPS for the racially discriminatory IMPACT teacher evaluation tool, fighting against unfair representation for member against our own union, etc. Members of the Washington Teachers’ Union need a champion; someone who, will protect their rights, listen to their concerns, speak up against the injustices and unsafe environments teachers are subjected to a daily basis. We need a real voice that will speak truth to power, so I asked for you vote then your participation in doing that collectively.

What is your vision for the union? (Max. 1000 characters) My vision for the Washington Teachers’ Union is to foster an environment where the collective amplification of teachers’ voices positively impacts membership-driven governance, fair and safe working conditions, economic opportunity, political influence in the district, and overall better public education institutions within the District of Columbia Public Schools for teachers, students, and their families.

If elected, what are your top 3 priorities that you would focus on to achieve your vision for the WTU? (Max. 1000 characters) In the name of being membership-driven, top priorities should be determined by the membership and or with the Representative Assembly input. However, if a response must be rendered, ensuring local elections are held in order for the Representative Assembly and General Assembly are prepared to meet regarding the MOA for SY 23, hosting meeting and soliciting input from the membership for the 2022-2023 Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) then get the approval of the extension of our Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) from the Representative Assembly, and getting abreast of the status of the current contract negotiations to conclude them with legal actions if necessary would be my top priorities coupled with providing leadership training to the newly elected Executive Board officers and local school teacher leaders. There are several other simultaneous priorities that must be addressed as well.

What are your top 3 contract priorities for future negotiations? In the name of being membership-driven, top priorities for future negotiations should be determined by the membership and or with the Representative Assembly input. However, if a response must be rendered, removing the Strike Clause is the ultimate future negotiation of any administration to come.

What is the strategy the WTU should take to achieve that vision? To ensure a timely and updated collective bargaining agreement, the following must occur: • WTU and DCPS must create a timeline over the course of three-year period where negotiations shall be completed prior to submission of a budget for the said year. • The WTU will push for open negotiations, however, DC Council Code 1-617.17(h) requires compensation negotiations pursuant to (g) shall be confidential among the parties • The Vice Presidents i.e. elementary, middle, high, special education, career development, and specialized services will be commissioned to meet with their respective groups to review the CBA for additions, updates i.e. revisions or omissions. o These additions and updates will be presented to the Representative Assembly to be voted upon before given to the Contract Negotiations Committee to negotiate with DCPS to follow our Bylaws. • Cost of Living Compensation shall be served in written demand to bargain to DCPS during the period of 120 days to 90 days prior to the first day of the fiscal year, for purposes of negotiating a compensation agreement for the subsequent fiscal year (second year into the contract). o Negotiations among the two parties shall continue until a settlement is reached, or until 180 days (6 months) after negotiations have commenced. o If negotiations have failed to reach settlement within the 180 days after negotiations have commenced, the WTU shall promptly notify the Executive Director of the Public Relations Board in writing of the impasse.  Meetings with the mayor will be arranged to resolve any financial or impasse work conditions before resolving to the next step.  The DC Council will be invited to negotiations as well informed of failures to negotiate in good faith.  Social media blitz and public rallies will be held to further our cause for a fair and timely contract.  Teachers and caucuses will be empowered to express their discontent within reason to further our collective cause. If the Washington Teachers’ Union along with its members implement the committees and trainings • Executive Board members will be trained to function in their constitutional capacities. o Constitution & Bylaws  Functional Duties • Functional Unit Committee o Example: Vice President chairs their respective functional unit to include Member-At-Large and 12 members of their respective functional unit. o Established meeting dates to meet o Collective Bargaining Agreement  Implement the following joint committees with DCPS per the bargaining agreement • 2.1 Full and Equal Partnership (FEP) Committee (2.1.2) • New Teacher Mentoring and Induction Program o Mentor Teachers (Pg. 6 definition) • 6.6 Joint Grievance Committee o Implement a Junior Field Representative Committee • 18.1 Behavior Management and Student Discipline o By September 1st • 23.7.3 Special Education City-Wide Committee • Inclusion Committee • Targeted Training Program o Robert Rules of Order o Organizing o Grievance Process and Writing • Building Representatives/Representative Assembly will be trained to function in their constitutional duties. o Robert Rules of Order o Constitution & Bylaws o Collective Bargaining Agreement  CBA 2.7.2, One training shall be a joint training for Supervisors and Building Representatives for a minimum of three (3) hours in duration in August of each school year. • Mutual understanding • Open communication to collaboratively coexist with less hostility • Establish regularly scheduled meetings o Organizing o Grievance Writing o Encouraged to engage in and provide input into the WTU Standing Committee • Membership will be provided training to be empowered as members. o Collective Bargaining Agreement o Robert Rules of Order o Grievance Writing o Encouraged to engage in and provide input into the WTU Standing Committees • Teachers and Elected Leaders at the Table o Vice Presidents, elected board members, seasoned and new members will be at the table with the Chancellor and DCPS regarding issues that impact the collective  This is not a WTU President and General Vice President show; it is a collective show.

If elected, what is your role in achieving that vision? The role the Washington Teachers’ Union president plays in manifesting the vision is one of three i.e., directing, delegating, and or participating in the necessary action steps to achieve the vision. The president creates the environment where teachers’ talents can be utilized and their interests can be directed to efforts that benefit the collective organization as a whole.

If elected, how do you see yourself working with caucuses like DC-CORE? Typically, caucuses form when there are common issues that are not being addressed and or met by union leadership. To get their concerns addressed, like-minded members find each other to strengthen their voices collectively. Ideally, I would like all members of the Washington Teachers’ Union including caucus members to participate within our established and ad hoc committees, so that all parties are working collaboratively together to address issues and concerns from the membership. However, I understand that caucuses are not subject to union leadership control and are able to engage and act where union leadership may not, which may be necessary for the advancement of the organization and or its members.

Do you believe that the WTU should organize and prepare to be "strike ready"? Yes

James Isreal
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