Park Middle, possibly other Antioch school teachers asked to promote state unions’ May 1st Day of Action

One of the posters on the CTA website offered for the May 1st Day of Action.

Another poster on the CTA website offered for use on its May 1st Day of Action.

Teachers, students asked to wear red, put names on red strips of paper, make posters; district, principal unaware of effort

By Allen Payton

On Thursday, an Antioch resident concerned with “communist propaganda being pushed at school” informed the Herald of an effort at Park Middle School entitled “‘Park Spartans Stand in Solidarity’ – May 1st” asking all staff and students to wear red that day, as part of “a movement to build a stronger union.” In addition, students are asked to make signs and posters during the “first week of our block schedule for testing, April 24 – 28,” which begins next Monday.

May 1st was the day chosen by the International Workers of the World and the Communist Party to protest for workers’ rights, starting in the late 1800’s and gaining prominence in the early 1900’s. The raised, clinched fist became the symbol of the movement. That symbol has since been adopted by other movements such as the black power and feminist movements.

Now it’s being used by the California Teachers Association (CTA), the state’s largest teachers’ union, which, via its website, is asking teachers and students to participate in their May 1st Statewide Day of Action to “Stand Up for Students.”

In an email message, the resident, who wished to remain anonymous wrote, “This memo [below] is circulating at Park Middle School. Why are public schools pushing political propaganda? Thought you may want to look into it” and forwarded the following message:

“Remember that on May 1st we are ‘Park Spartans Stand in Solidarity,’ so you can have your students make posters next week.

‘Park Spartans Stand in Solidarity’ – May 1st

This is a day where the Nation will create a movement to build a stronger union to strengthen free, safe, and quality public education for ALL students based on social, economic, and political justice.

  1. ALL staff and students should wear RED this day.
  2. Students will be writing their names on red strips of paper during their lunches on April 26th – 28th. They will be linked together. (PLEASE send any red construction paper you would like to donate to Shelly in room 602.)
  3. Share the information with your students, and they can make signs and posters. A great week to have your students do this is the first week of our block schedule for testing, April 24 – 28. Any posters you want hung up outside of the school, please send to me by the end of the day on Friday, April 28th. Also, if anyone wants to get here early on May 1st to hang up the posters, I would appreciate it.
  4. I have attached a scan of the Action page. At the bottom are different links. One includes different ideas and activities you can do.
  5. Please take the pledge to Stand for ALL Students: (copy and paste the website)”

Posters on the CTA website offered for use as part of the organization’s May 1st Day of Action.

In an email response to questions about the memo, the anonymous resident wrote, “It is my understanding that it is a District wide program and each school is encouraged to set up their own May Day celebration based on the CTA guide. As far as the email I provided, it was sent out to all Park Middle School employees and I have been told that many employees are upset that the District is pushing this propaganda on the students. I have also been told by a friend at Mno Grant Elementary School that they are setting up a similar program there.”

On the CTA’s web page promoting the activities for the Day of Action, it asks people to sign a pledge with the message, “Take the Pledge: A Call to Action for the Public Education ALL California’s Students Deserve.”

It includes non-controversial clauses about supporting “safe learning and teaching environments, and the right to attend school free of fear, bullying and discrimination” and “all students deserve a well-rounded education – ensuring that students and schools have access to multi-cultural education, art, music, theater, dance, physical education, and career-technical classes.”

But, the pledge also includes political positions of the teachers’ union, in the following clauses:

“WHEREAS, public schools should serve as centers of the community, not profit centers with taxpayer dollars diverted to private voucher schemes and unaccountable corporate charter schools; and

WHEREAS, California has always been a place for DREAMers and supports safe-haven schools and sanctuary cities that reflect and embrace the diversity of our students and their families, as well as the rich language and cultural assets they bring to our communities.”

The website also provides a variety of posters that can be used, including one that shows two hands in a handshake with the words “The Union Makes Us Strong.” Others promote the LGBTQ agenda with the new symbol that includes male, female and transgender.

A message left for Park Middle School Principal John Jimno seeking comment about the activities at the school proposed for next week was not returned.

An email was sent to Board President Walter Ruehlig, who is out of town on vacation, all board members and Superintendent Stephanie Anello asking if they were aware of this, if it was a district-wide effort and if they supported it.

Anello responded, “I am looking into this and will get back to you. I was unaware that this went out, etc. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.”

Board Vice President Debra Vinson said “I hadn’t heard of it. That’s news to me” and that there are “so many things that we need to reel in.”

In a later email message from Anello, she said Jimno was not aware of the memo, either and that he would be contacting the teacher who sent it.

“I was unaware of the email as was Mr. Jimno as he was out of the office yesterday,” Anello wrote. “According to Mr. Jimno, nothing has gone out to students or their families about this. CTA and its membership certainly have a right to free speech and expression that would include their ability to wear red and make posters and comments on the issues and to encourage their membership to do so. However, there is no legal basis for taking class time to direct students (or non-CTA staff) to do so as it is not part of a district approved curriculum. Mr. Jimno has already reached out to the teacher who sent the email and she will send out clarification letting teachers know.

“Thank you for bringing this to my attention,” she concluded.

After returning from vacation, Ruehlig responded with the following:

“This was done off the District radar screen and I am only thankful that it was caught and reported in time by a conscientious employee.

The choice of using International Worker’s Day as a showcase, coupled with the design of some of the posters is, indeed, controversial but that is not the major point.

What is black, white and unarguable is the violation of prohibition of political activity within the schools; you simply can’t use District technology, facilities and paid time to lobby. These are public schools.

The biggest damage, though, would be to allow the use of students as a pawn to pursue any partisan lobbying and uncontested ideology.”

Communist poster

On the website it provides background about the first International May Day.

“In his preface to the fourth German edition of the Communist Manifesto, which he wrote on May 1, 1890, Engels, reviewing the history of the international proletarian organizations, calls attention to the significance of the first International May Day:

As I write these lines, the proletariat of Europe and America is holding a review of its forces; it is mobilized for the first time as One army, under One Bag, and fighting One immediate aim: an eight-hour working day, established by legal enactment…. The spectacle we are now witnessing will make the capitalists and landowners of all lands realize that today the proletarians of all lands are, in very truth, united. If only Marx were with me to see it with his own eyes!

The significance of simultaneous international proletarian demonstrations was appealing more and more to the imagination and revolutionary instincts of the workers throughout the world, and every year witnessed greater masses participating in the demonstrations.”

Soviet Propaganda poster from the 70’s stating “We are in solidarity with you, Vietnam!”

On the same website the French Marxist, communist activist, essayist, and journalist, Boris Souvarine is quoted from his work entitled, The Call, published in 1920 about the Communist roots of May Day celebrations.

“Since the foundation of the Communist International, containing all the revolutionary forces of the world proletariat, the international manifestation of May Day has taken on a character of working-class solidarity which it never possessed before,” Souvarine wrote.

“Previously, when the Second International had resolved to choose the first day of May as the occasion to affirm the universal fraternity of the workers, the annual demonstration of the exploited of every country was a luminous symbol. But the Second International shed itself of its revolutionary spirit, and sunk more and more in opportunism, whilst the general strike of the May Day also lost its revolutionary spirit, for which was substituted an overweening concern for the ‘practical.’ And during the war when, more than ever, the solidarity of the proletariat was a pressing necessity, when Imperialism intensified the oppression and the exploitation of the producing class, the International backed out, and its weakening parties traitorously renounced the traditional celebration of May Day.”

On the CTA website, it explains why it chose May 1st and that it’s part of a national effort in coordination with the National Education Association (NEA), the national teachers’ union. They want parents and community members to support the effort at local schools, as well.

“Why May 1?

May 1st has been historically linked to international worker’ rights. On May 1, 1886, the U.S. Federation of Organized Trade and Labor Unions (including immigrant workers) ruled that an 8-hour work day, would be a full and legal work day. NEA and the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools (AROS) are also holding a national day of action on May 1. May 1, or May Day, continues to be a national day of action to raise awareness about immigration rights and the need to keep families together as they fight for a better life.  

How can I get involved?

CTA is asking our local chapters and members to hold actions with parents and community members at their local school sites. Actions may include “walk-ins” with parents and community members, unveiling new safe zone policies and safe zone resolutions, taking the pledge, hosting community meetings, and more. Please join our Facebook group and fill out our form to let us know how you are participating.”

However, nothing could be found on the NEA’s website regarding a national day of action on May 1st. 

Nothing could be found on the NEA’s website regarding a national day of action on May 1st. However, on the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools’ website, their May 1st day of action is entitled “Build Schools Not Walls” and is about opposing President Trump’s proposed wall on the border with Mexico and education for illegal immigrant students.

That website states, “Every community deserves quality public schools where immigrants are welcome and kids & families are safe, respected, and loved.”

Further, it states, “Join millions nationwide on May 1st, 2017:

Demand an end to mass deportation and threats to immigrant communities

Demand our schools be safe spaces free from the threats of ICE raids, racism, and bullying

Demand that billions not be spent on a wall, but on strengthening public schools to educate all our children regardless of immigration status.”

However, the AROS website only shows a few sites throughout the U.S. participating in their Day of Action and the only one in California is in Los Angeles.

the attachments to this post:

CTA Posters

Union makes us strong poster

Social Justice poster

transgender symbol

Soviet Propaganda poster from the 70’s. We are in solidarity with you, Vietnam

Communist poster

20 Comments to “Park Middle, possibly other Antioch school teachers asked to promote state unions’ May 1st Day of Action”

  1. Thomas McNell says:

    Ironic. The case for charter schools is being made by the CTA and the AUSD and/or its employees through actions like this.

  2. Karen says:

    This is why my kids went to private school. This is so ridicules I had to stop reading.

  3. Arne says:

    This is totally inappropriate and I can only hope that the AUSD Superintendent brings it to an immediate halt !!

  4. Walter Ruehlig says:

    This was done off the District radar screen and I am only thankful that it was caught and reported in time by a conscientious employee.

    The choice of using International Worker’s Day as a showcase, coupled with the design of some of the posters is, indeed, controversial but that is not the major point.

    What is black, white and unarguable is the violation of prohibition of political activity within the schools; you simply can’t use District technology, facilities and paid time to lobby. These are PUBLIC schools.

    The biggest damage, though, would be to allow the use of students as a pawn to pursue any partisan lobbying and uncontested ideology.

    • Publisher says:

      Thank you for your reply on this matter.
      I will add your comment to the article.
      Allen Payton, Publisher

  5. Marty Fernandez says:

    Walter, I sure hope those responsible are found and dealt with, severely. Actually that is probably a joke in todays workplace but I can hope for discipline.

  6. Skeptical says:

    What a ridiculous, inflammatory piece of garbage journalism. Allen, you have discredited yourself and the Herald in my eyes. You were my alternative to the right-wing East County Times, but now I see that you’re a right-wing propagandist. CTA is not promoting Communism, as the piece implies. May 1 has been celebrated by many Americans for 100+ years as a day to honor workers. Celebrating on May 1 does not make you a Communist. CTA has declared it a Day of Action and gives local union chapters the freedom to decide what kind of action it wants to take. One of the main recommendations CTA gives is to highlight the very real stress and fear that the children of illegal immigrants are feeling right now. This is humanitarianism, not Communism.

    It’s OK for business to organize (Chamber of Commerce) but not for workers to organize? Come on.

    • Robert says:

      No one is complaining about workers organizing or adults expressing their political views amongst themselves on their own time. The problem comes when that organizing and political viewpoint is forced on public school students who are basically a captive audience during school hours and are being funded by public funds.
      Teachers have quite a bit of power over young minds which is exactly why there are prohibition against poliitcal activity within the schools.
      Basically, if you don’t want to be accused of promoting communisim, don’t use communist tactics, like pushing political views on children in state schools, to promote your cause.

    • Publisher says:


      Thank you for reading the Herald and for your comment.

      However, if you’ll go back and re-read my article, you will note that it says nothing about teachers organizing. They have every right to do that. But not during school hours and not using students or non-CTA staff.

      It also wasn’t me who called it “Communist propaganda” but the resident who informed me of what was planned at Park Middle School. That’s why that phrase is in quotes.

      It’s about some teachers promoting their agenda to and pushing it on students during the school day, as well as recruiting students to participate in its promotion, and holding it on the day that’s been celebrated by Communists for, as you wrote, the last 100 years. Please understand world history. While it may also be celebrated by union workers, and has somewhat lost its original meaning, you do realize the efforts by the International Workers of the World evolved in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s into the Communist movement of the proletariat (workers) against the bourgeoisie (capitalists, owners and management). If you need a refresher, as I assume you might have learned about this in school, while growing up, as I did, please read this about The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx –

      Why, if the CTA’s Day of Action is not connected to Communism, would they encourage both teachers and students to wear red, and have students write their names on red strips of paper, on that day, when red has been the color of Communism? Surely, you can’t be that blind. Remember the phrase “I’d rather be dead than red?”

      What the teachers should be doing that day is teaching their students about the history, dangers and negatives of Communism (and other totalitarian regimes), that are still being experienced by people in North Korea, Cuba and China, today, how their God-given, inalienable rights are severely limited and how our country and it’s many men and women fought, bled and died to defeat it – and are still doing so, today. Also, they can teach the kids how our generation lived in fear, growing up having to do air raid drills, and get under our school desks, and had fall-out shelters in case of a nuclear attack by the Soviet Union and how there is now the potential of that happening by North Korea (and possibly Iran) should they achieve the ability to make and launch a nuclear weapon onto our shores.

      The CTA’s effort has become a mixed bag of mainly left-wing propaganda, and they throw in every possible issue – some with which I agree, such as anti-bullying – as well as teacher pay (did you notice that self-serving part of their pledge) and they’re pushing it on our students during the school day. As Superintendent Anello correctly stated, “there is no legal basis for taking class time to direct students (or non-CTA staff) to do so as it is not part of a district approved curriculum.”

      And we wonder why Antioch public schools are losing students to other districts, private schools, charter schools and home schooling.

      Allen Payton, Publisher

    • eileen says:

      Stupid comment. The word “Communist” is in “Quotes.” Get it? “Quotes.”

    • Robert says:

      CTA picks a day historically linked to communism, promotes wearing a color historically linked to communism (ever heard the term “better dead than red”}, uses images historically linked to communism, and then can’t figure out why someone may see a link to communism. I would think that an organization comprised of teachers would know some history.

    • Bill says:

      I’m with this guy

  7. Marty Fernandez says:

    Well, you certainly read only what you wanted to there. I didn’t get your Communist connection at all. Allen seemed to be reporting on history not accusing anyone of being a Communist.

    • Publisher says:

      Thanks, Marty.
      I was quoting the resident who informed me of what was planned for Park Middle School, who used the term “communist propaganda.”
      Allen Payton, Publisher

    • eileen says:

      Agreed. Ms “Skeptical” from the CTA has an agenda. For a “skeptic” she’s not thinking too critically.

  8. eileen says:

    Too bad the schools can’t teach kids HOW to think, instead of WHAT to think. So sick of CTA manipulation and propaganda.

  9. Bill says:

    It seems like the author and some of the commenters are stuck in the 1950s. They’re seeing communists everywhere. Let’s be real. We all know the real symbols of communists. Does the hammer and sickle sound familiar? Seriously, the author wants us to believe that it’s possible that the California Teachers Association is a secret communist organization. They don’t do things that communists do, but they have all of the symbolism there. It’s a real life Alex Jones conspiracy! [facepalm]

    Meanwhile back on planet Earth, the most unpopular president in history has been elected. Unions and the Democratic party have started a campaign to oppose what they (and most people around here) believe are racist policies that don’t represent the values of this community. Our community has Asian people, Latino people, White people, Black people, and Muslim people. We live together and reject the notion that one group or another “belongs here” more or less than any other person does.

    Let’s couple this conspiratorial article with the fact the right-wing people and racists often find an outlet here in the anonymous comments of news articles.

    But if you want to run with the conspiracy theory, the very next article the Antioch Herald published after the last one is entitled “Superintendent asks school board to consider making Antioch a “safe haven” district at Wednesday meeting” <–Oh no, more communists!

    • Publisher says:

      Thank you for reading the Herald and for taking the time to comment.

      However, as the author, I wasn’t the one who used the term “communist.” If you’ll re-read the article, you will see I was quoting the person who informed me of what the teacher(s) at Park Middle School were attempting to do. The main problem, regardless of whether one agrees with their agenda, is that they were planning on recruiting students to participate in promoting that agenda and during school hours. When the superintendent and principal found out, as a result of me asking them about it, they put a stop to it and rightfully so.

      But, encouraging the students and all teachers to wear red, the color of Communism and Communists, is a clear connection to what the teachers’ agenda is tied to, namely Socialism, Marxism, Communism – all things our parents and grandparents fought to defeat and prevent from taking over our country. It appears the battle continues and unfortunately in our own, local schools. If you can’t see that, then you’re blind. No conspiracy theory. It’s actually occurring. The politicization of our classrooms by teachers sold out to the unions. Just like Lenin said, “Give me just one generation of youth, and I’ll transform the whole world.” They’re supposed to be teaching the kids how to think not what to think. Education not indoctrination.

      As for the article and headline about the Superintendent asking the Antioch School Board to create a “Safe Haven District” in Antioch, that’s exactly what was on the agenda and who asked to have it placed there, which you will see if you care to read the article, the school board agenda item and the complete text of the resolution. As for the resolution, it is completely unnecessary, as none of the things mentioned in it are occurring in the Antioch School District, as Superintendent Anello stated in her answer to Board President Walter Ruehlig at Wednesday night’s meeting, when he specifically asked her if they are. This is part of a statewide effort of the left to play politics and send a message to their supporters that they’re against President Trump and his policies. That’s clear from what was stated by the speakers at Wednesday’s meeting in favor of the resolution. Nothing in that article mentioned anything about Communists or Communism. You somehow made that leap.

      We don’t need teachers, the school board or district staff playing politics with our students, or wasting the public’s time and resources to do so. If they want to send a message to students and parents who are here illegally, that the district has a legal responsibility to teach all students, regardless of immigration status and that the students have a right to attend school, and that the district no longer asks the question of a student’s citizenship now or at the time of their birth on enrollment forms, they can do that without passing a resolution that does nothing, as Ruehlig pointed out. He also pointed out, that the district is already complying with the law, and requiring the things that are in the resolution, such as requiring ICE – should they actually ever walk onto an Antioch school campus – to have a search warrant or some other court order to obtain student records.

      You can continue to attempt to label enforcing our nation’s immigration laws as racist, but it’s weak – and it’s the refuge of those who can’t back up their argument with facts to attack the positions of others. The fact is there are illegal aliens from all over the world in our country. However, of the estimated 11.7 million, about 80% are from south of the border. Therefore, most who will be deported will have brown skin. That doesn’t make the actions racist any more than you not wanting the government to enforce our immigration laws is racist, because that viewpoint mainly favors those with brown skin. It’s a fallacious argument and you know it. In fact one of the largest groups of people in the northeast part of our country who are here illegally are Irish – white European – who mostly overstayed their visas. They too face the same enforcement of immigration laws.

      So, there’s no conspiracy theory involved in either of the articles, nor do we write or publish articles based on them. I quoted directly from the sources on both sides of the issues in both articles. What the two articles clearly show is there is a statewide effort – by both the CTA and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Antioch’s own Tom Torlakson – to push a left-wing agenda and there are local teachers and officials who are attempting to foment it here, in Antioch, and others who oppose that effort. We did our job and informed the public about two parts of that effort and will be publishing another article about what occurred at the school board meeting on the resolution.

      Allen Payton, Publisher

      • Avery says:

        It seems to me, who has never been a teacher or in any union, but has on my own pursued information on the historical left, that anyone who mixes the IWW and the Communist Party USA (which, btw, was founded well after the Haymarket incident) is just a bit off their rocker. The IWW were anarchists first of all. Anarchists and Communists have had an unfortunate history of turning on each other at the wrong time, often allowing right-wing partisans to take power and put down both.

        There are many different flavors of socialism. How they view the role of government can vary quite widely. Even in the USSR itself, the term “Soviet” referred to running businesses with high levels of internal democracy: executives of the business were to be elected by the workers, and subject to quite rapid recall by workers if their leadership were to be found wanting. This came up quite at odds with the way Stalin wanted to run things. That is why the purges happened. I have heard one historian put it this way: Stalin believed that government ownership and control of everything was what socialism meant, while many others who called themselves socialist or even communist believed nothing of the sort. The irony of this is that most conservatives go with Stalin’s idea of what socialism is, and therefore, in a very stark sense, conservatives ARE Stalinists.

        The writer you grant so many column inches does not consider it propaganda and indoctrination to utterly fail to educate our students on why overtime after 8 hours of work in a day is a normal assumption now, and the literal blood donated to bring this about, but if the teacher’s union proposes to tell the students about this, “For horror, for horror, what ARE those GODLESS COMMUNISTS doing to our children???”

        Someone once said people usually become more conservative as they age. That is not my experience. And I like to say that while exposure to what leftists have to say about themselves pulled this trigger, it was conservative pundits who loaded this gun, by reacting to a lot of things which to my mind make perfect sense with just the very shrill, lecturing dismissive tone so often attributed to politically correct liberals.

      • Avery says:

        You know, in thinking further about this, I remember in 10th or 11th grade, right smack in the middle of Reagan’s reign, having a film played for us a couple of times, it was this scenario of a teacher coming into a class and slyly turning all the children into a Soviet red guard in 5 minutes. I felt extremely propagandized by this. I had just recently read 1984, and the film felt like Orwell’s Two Minutes of Hate. As I said previously, so many childhood memories, of Wally George on the radio saying that a woman should do EVERYTHING a man tells them, then blaming her for having and unwanted pregnancy which of course the government should force her to bear, after which she will then be told that if she couldn’t afford a child she shouldn’t have had one. What a wife does if her husband dies while she’s pregnant no one on that side ever says….

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