Why I support organizing – Gina Manning, Simon Tech

Gina ManningI began teaching because I loved school. My favorite teacher, Mrs. Mirich at Narbonne High, inspired me and encouraged me to pursue a career in education, which I began in 1999. I have taught English at two traditional school districts prior to being hired at Alliance. This is my third year teaching at Simon Tech in Watts, a city rich with history and culture.
Having taught in different environments, I can see the many great things at my and other Alliance schools – enrichment classes, pep rallies, high expectations, field trips, etc. Here at Simon Tech, I have the pleasure of teaching an enrichment course on Spoken Word poetry. In that class, I give students the opportunity to perform original poetry, voice their opinions, and speak their minds in a safe space that is not punitive.
All of us want what is best for our students, and from experience we know that what they need most is stability.  Our students’ ability to grasp concepts is amazing, clearly shown by the extraordinary poetry they wrote in my Creative Writing classes last year.  Their need for social justice is intense, also depicted in the articles they have written in my Journalism classes this year.
Just as I encourage my students to speak their minds and advocate for themselves, I believe we as educators should feel empowered to speak our minds.

Alongside all the good, I see room for improvement at our schools. I believe teachers and counselors can and should be the driving force behind making those improvements because we are on the frontlines every day. I know that organizing our union is the best way to empower ourselves to do just that.
One of the things I believe we could improve by forming our union is Alliance’s extremely high turnover rate. From my sixteen years experience as an educator, I know that our students need stability to succeed. When I see so many teachers and counselors leaving each year – some mid-year – I worry about the impact this has on our students.

When we win our union, teachers and counselors will be able to advocate for the kinds of changes that will make people want to stay and grow at the Alliance. I know that retaining qualified and experience educators within Simon Tech and the Alliance would benefit our students enormously.

When educators’ voices are heard, we feel valued. When we feel valued, we stay around. When we stay around, students feel safe. When students feel safe, they thrive. That’s what everybody wants – teachers, students, parents, administrators, Alliance and the community. We all want the same thing. Let’s do it together. Let’s organize our union and help the students thrive, with fairness, equity and stability!

Gina Manning
English Teacher
Alliance Cindy & Bill Simon Technology Academy High School

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