MY FIRST ENDORSEMENT
I’ve never had the opportunity to endorse a candidate for anything. Until now I’ve never been in a position to garner enough attention for an endorsement, but I am so happy that my first endorsement is for Mandy Manning for WEA president!
Mandy is the ONLY candidate running for State union leadership that I consider a teacher activist. The other candidates do the usual photo op “activism,” but Mandy is the only educator running for office that puts her name on the line and shows up for students who are the most marginalized.
I have to admit that when I first heard Mandy speak at the WEA representative assembly in 2018, I rolled my eyes and thought, “Oh, great. Another white savior teacher.” Mandy spoke about the work she did as an ELL teacher in Spokane, working mostly with immigrant teens. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to spend an evening with Mandy as part of the 2019 Washington Regional Teachers of the Year cohort. It was then Mandy changed my mind about her. I am the only teacher in the cohort who identifies as a person of color, and when the topic of race and racism came up that night, Mandy was there to call out the whiteness in the room. When the topic changed to LGBTQ rights, my non-binary child was telling their story and ended up in tears. Mandy was the first out of her seat to comfort my child and thank them for telling their story.
MANDY’S COMMITMENT TO JUSTICE THROUGH ACTION
I don’t know if I would have agreed to meet with “Individual 1,” but Mandy did, and she did in teacher activist fashion making a bold statement with the pins on her dress honoring the LGBTQ community, trans rights, and immigrants.
When invited to speak about the experiences of immigrant students, Mandy passed the mic to the students themselves to tell their own story.
Mandy organized a teach-in in Tornillo, TX, to protest the concentration camps for migrant children, but it doesn’t begin and end with the teach-in. Mandy has created a movement and a network of educators across the U.S. called Teachers Against Child Detention.
Now, she’s running for WEA president, but she’s not running the typical campaign in which the candidate is expected to schmooze and curtsy to the powerful. In fact, she’s not really promoting herself in ways I’ve seen other candidates do. She is not interested in pretenses, nor does she need to be. She is the real deal. Her actions speak for her legitimacy, passion, and experience. Mandy is a fighter, and she’s proven it.
THE OTHER CANDIDATES
Honestly, I’ve only spent time with Mandy and one other candidate, Phyllis Campano, who is running for WEA vice president. Phyllis is currently the president of Seattle Education Association. Phyllis is the typical politician. Phyllis doesn’t rock the boat. Phyllis doesn’t seem to be interested in making real systemic change, and will go the way of the status quo if it benefits her political career. Seattle Education Association has made great strides toward racial equity in Seattle Public Schools, but don’t get it twisted. That’s almost completely thanks to the genius of Marquita Prinzing, Director of SEA’s Center for Racial Equity and Marquita has had success in spite of Phyllis, not because of her or her actions.
I met Stephen Miller during the Teacher of the Year retreat in September, 2018. He’s charming and personable. Other than that I don’t know much about him. I did, however, as mentioned, attend the 2018 WEA representative assembly in which the level of racism in that conference room was astounding. White educators came to the microphone saying things like, “colored people.” One white educator claimed she should be allowed into safe spaces for educators of color because she teaches a Spanish class and knows the culture. Stephen was there… and that was it. Nothing was done by any of the leadership in the room to call out or restrict these racist actions. It took the educators of color in the room to organize an impromptu protest and demand an apology. I believe that had Mandy been there, she would have stepped in.
Janie White is the candidate running against Phyllis. Janie is a woman of color and a classified employee. I have heard amazing things about her from both Mandy and Marquita. I am, sadly, no longer a member of WEA, but I would be honored to vote for a woman who has the respect of both Mandy and Marquita, and though I’m no longer a union educator, I am a unionist and an educator at heart. Don’t vote for the status quo. Vote for women who will bring real change to how things are done in our state! I am excited to see what a Mandy/Janie leadership team will bring to education in Washington State!