Saturday, May 12, 2007

A flunking grade

CTA doesn't do its homework

I am a member of the American Federation of Teachers. My union does a reasonably good job of representing my concerns and ensuring that I enjoy superior working conditions, so you can put me down as a firm supporter of organized labor. The California Teachers Association is another generally reputable teachers union. I am inclined to regard it positively. That's why it pains me when the CTA acts in an utterly boneheaded way. You'd like to think that an organization of educators would possess a certain amount of smarts.

The California Teachers Association runs promotional advertisements on KSFO radio, a right-wing station out of San Francisco that specializes in hate-mongering. KSFO's leading lights are such actinic luminaries as Melanie Morgan and Lee Rodgers, the morning talk-show hosts who make drive-time into a seething puddle of vitriol. Media Matters and Spocko's Brain have amply documented KSFO's advocacy of extremism and eliminationism. KSFO talk-show hosts despise many things. Among these things are labor unions. So why does CTA subsidize this station with their advertising dollars? Or are the CTA commercials merely public service ads that KSFO broadcasts because they are provided for free by the Ad Council?

These questions should not be difficult to answer. CTA, however, declines to respond to inquiries, whether direct or indirect. When I first heard the CTA radio spots myself, I contacted a former colleague who worked as an education specialist in various legislative and civil service offices. He relayed my concerns to CTA representatives in Sacramento but never got an answer. A college professor mailed a letter of inquiry directly to CTA president Barbara Kerr back in February. As of today, well into May, the letter writer has not received the courtesy of a reply from Kerr or any of her staff members. I am in possession of an electronic copy of that letter, which I have permission to publish here. Check it out:
February 19, 2007

Barbara E. Kerr, President
California Teachers Association
Post Office Box 921
Burlingame, CA 94011-0921

Dear President Kerr:

Although I do not listen to KSFO frequently, preferring to choose radio stations that do not insult my intelligence or my profession as a teacher in a public institution, I sometimes tune in for a few minutes during my morning drive to school. I have been amazed to hear advertisements sponsored by the California Teachers Association. What possible reason could CTA have for spending money on one of the most rabid right-wing radio stations in the country, especially during the morning program of Lee Rodgers and Melanie Morgan?

These people despise unions (referring always to “labor bosses” and never to “union leaders”), ooze contempt for public education (“government schools” is their term for “public schools”), and routinely heap abuse on the notion of human rights (which should be denied to some minorities because they’re probably “illegals,” others because they’re “rag-heads,” and still others because they’re in “immoral lifestyles”). They treat “diversity” like a swear word and rant about how they are oppressed by “political correctness.” The talk-show hosts at KSFO are not your friends. They hold you and your fellow CTA members in contempt.

Documentation of KSFO’s extremism is readily available for anyone who bothers to take a moment to check. One detailed source is, which I heartily recommend. It contains the actual words of the KSFO on-air hosts.

If CTA uses a publicity service that places radio ads based simply on geographical location and ratings, I can see how CTA’s spots might end up on KSFO. Its listeners, however, are not your demographic and you are wasting every dollar you spend supporting Bay Area hate radio. You should pull all advertising from KSFO and move it to more congenial venues, such as KCBS and KGO, which are in all respects more moderate and mainstream. Otherwise, I question your commitment to your stated mission “to ensure that the human dignity and civil rights of all children and youth are protected.”

Thank you for your attention to my concerns. I look forward to hearing from you.


A Teacher & Union Member
It seems unlikely that the U.S. Postal Service failed to deliver the letter to CTA headquarters in Burlingame. Either Barbara Kerr or someone on her staff decided that the writer's questions were best ignored. Three weeks ago, the letter writer mailed the CTA a reminder, a one-paragraph missive. I have a copy of that, too:
I have not yet received the courtesy of a reply to my letter of February 19, 2007 (copy enclosed). It seems reasonable to assume that two months is sufficient time for someone at the California Teachers Association to look up the reason that the organization chooses to advertise on KSFO and respond to an inquiry concerning that reason. Would someone at CTA be so kind as to inform me why KSFO is considered a suitable venue for CTA’s promotional spots?
Since that didn't work either, I conclude that the letter writer is wasting his time. The California Teachers Association is continuing to run promotional advertisements on a radio station that pines for the good old unionless days of the robber barons.

What the hell is wrong with the CTA?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You know, if god had been in a better union he would have gotten two days off at the end of the week...