A Moment of Recall


by Frank Stevens

Former SBTA President and the father of Past President Ken Stevens

SBTA’s office was originally on the Rivera campus, just up from the Rivera Theater; the theater was used for Rep Council Meetings. SBTA was made up of both administrators and teachers. It was a more formal group than the earlier Certificated Employees Club, which was more of a social gathering group.

SBTA was part of the southern section of CTA. Compared to most of CTA, the southern section was more aggresssive and outspoken for teacher’s rights and wanted to remove administrators from the association. In the late 60’s CTA unified by removing section identifications. This begain the State Council framework that exists today.

About that time, SBTA moved from the Riviera to rent space on Hope Avenue. A full-time secretary was hired. Her name was Marge Ummel, and she served for more than 20 years. During the late 60’s and early 70’s SBTA and CTA went through a major transition period attacking the “meet and confer” process dealing with salaries and benefits. An advocacy plan for a true negotiating process was established.

Teachers were divided because it created a image of unionism vs. teacher professionalism. By eventually gaining a negotiating process, SBTA advanced into contract language in a number of employer-employee relationship areas. it was time to begin the advocacy process to move from advisory grievance processing to binding arbitration of grievances.

Association leaders in the 60’s and 70’s fought many battles for public education and teacher rights. Here are a few names that stand out: Morris Jenkins (deceased), 1st State Council and CTA Board of Directors representative; Hal Hamm, Dave Short, Hank Schiff, Jean Reiche, Curtis Ridling,Bob Young and Ron Liberatore.

These individuals among others, faithfully provided the groundwork for protections and benefits enjoyed by teachers today. They knew, as today’s teachers know, that protection of benefits is an endless journey. Times have changed however — where we once battled at the local level with superintendents and school boards, now the battles are at the State and Federal levels. We cannot deny that public education and public school educators must be assertive, sometimes agressive, political activists.

If teachers believe in what they are doing, they must be willing to stand up and be counted.