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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Cleveland Teachers Union's new leaders talking tough

Posted By on Wed, Mar 19, 2008 at 2:13 PM

Give Hoffa an apple and a denim jumper, and basically you get a CTA union steward.
Tracy Radich, the newly elected Sergeant at Arms for Cleveland Teacher’s Union, is seriously pumped. She feels like the union finally elected a group of executives who will meet the needs of teachers. This new group, led by Dave Quolke, will start at the end of April. But if Radich had her way, they’d take control this week. Apparently there’s been mumbling among teachers that the leadership team of current president Joanne DeMarco tended to stay in their comfy confines on West 6th Street too much. ... They weren’t a visible force in the schools, forcing teachers to come to them, send messages on their ancient IBM Net Vista library computers, or send their reps to voice complaints. But what really ticked them off was that it prevented their own union from seeing exactly what was going on inside their schools, like a rash of student-on-teacher violence that was downplayed by DeMarco. But this won’t fly with the new bunch, says Radich. Teachers can expect president Quolke at their door. “He’s going to be out visiting their schools,” says Radich. “He’ll be talking with the teachers to hear what they need. This will be a pro-active rather re-active bunch.” Radich says you won’t see them bowing down to the whims of schools CEO Eugene Sanders, known for his knack of transferring teachers, even principals, in and out of schools so fast that it makes them feel like glorified prairie dogs. With fiery red hair and a voice that carries into the hallways at Joseph Gallagher school, even with the door to her classroom shut, Radich seems devoted to raising cane and taking names. She makes it sounds as if the 6,000-member CTA is aiming to become as tough as the Jimmy Hoffa crew. Let’s just hope no one magically vanishes one day, even though that would make a pretty great follow-up blog. – Bradley Campbell

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