Mr. Puffer, the investigative reporter who nearly a decade ago shook the stuffy establishment of New England public education, is as much a hero in our democracy as some of the guys who went to war in Iraq at about the same time. He had a lot less artillery for his "shock-and-awe," but he maybe did more to change America than the expensive war we just abandoned.
Surely he is as much a hero...maybe more of one? And at some personal risk? Because he must have pissed off some powerful insiders...that act is usually followed by bad fortune. I discovered that fact after working in the Beaverton schools.
For, without oversight or accountability, people in power will behave improperly. That is a given in our democracy and the motive behind checks and balances and the Bill of Rights.
When our state courts can be manipulated--blatantly--on behalf of entrenched bureaucrats concealing misconduct, as happened in my case, we have crossed a line.
The people who stripped me of my dignity so that I would abandon my cause would not have been able to behave so cruelly had they feared any accountability for their unethical conduct (NOTE: The philosophy behind THAT statement is my motive for writing, daily, almost eight years after I was stabbed in the back by people who are STILL gaming the system, growing rich with public money...by being secretive).
Our system of educational governance is still broken, despite the accouterments of reform recently applied to agencies in Salem. The lawyers who manipulated me are all still in place at the OEA. The then-Beaverton union president, Hanna Vaandering, who brought me an illegal contract to help conceal administrative misconduct, is now VP of the state's union AND a member of the Governor's new OEIB.
And my sordid ordeal is merely one example of unsupervised and curiously-qualified public school millionaires using our schools as status ladders and ATMs.
When I met with Hanna Vaandering, in desperation more than two and 1/2 years after my termination, to share concerns about my legal representation, she called the lawyer who had been "representing" me and discovered she had been deceived about my (conflict-of-interest?) federal law suit. Then Ms. Vaandering broke my heart by bringing me a NEW contract created by a new BSD lawyer (Osterink) nearly a year after I had signed the first one...Ms. Vaandering knowingly became part of the cover-up (helping Nancy and Jennifer Hungerford mislead Judge Robert E. Jones in federal court) and now she enjoys a rapid ascent in state politics.
Where is Mr. Puffer?
The closed and dysfunctional system that swallowed me and chewed on me for years when I asked for equitable treatment in Oregon's public schools should be a red flag to investigative education reporters. I am not without fault and had some bad days, like all over-worked teachers in over-crowded schools--and I will quickly concede to a (nonviolent but mercurial) temper, usually reserved for bullying or injustice--but I am a very skilled, educated and experienced professional and often had to work for people in Beaverton who were not.
Long ago in my quest for dignity and fair play, when I realized I had been betrayed by the representatives of the Oregon Education Association to whom I had been paying dues for a decade to protect my employment rights, I became committed to trying to write something everyday until I had achieved a sense of justice in my conflict with secretive public employees who use public resources to take from Oregon's poorly-represented teachers (and, by extension, their students), everyday.
I see opportunists like Vaandering given jobs they do not deserve and I realize they are being rewarded for their convenient lapses in ethics. I silently scream for our Mr. Puffer. Until there is accountability from sheltered elites in our public school bureaucracy and some atonement by the leaders of Oregon's erstwhile union of teachers, the OEA, then all "movements" toward reform are detours to dead-ends.
|Response to Sue Robertson, current Beaverton School District HR chief.|