Oak Harbor teachers’ union president fails in bid to become WEA union president + Video “Teachers Unions explained”

Peter Szalai in his “educational soldiers“ red t-shirt.

The very politically ambitious Peter Szalai, president of the Oak Harbor Education Associationlost in his bid to become president of the Washington Education Association.

I suspect his own bio did him in.  

In arguing for a “clear-headed” path to “change the dominant narrative arrayed against us“, he vomited:

“It is time—way past time—finally, inexorably, and unalterably to say “no”—not “no, but” or “no, and” but simply “no.””





Nonetheless, Peter Szalai remains our local snake oil salesman,  advocate of socialistic Autonomism, organizer of threats made upon small businesses,  and lover of raising local property taxes “to the moon“.

For some strange reason, Mr. Szalai failed to mention those aspects of his qualifications when he penned his bio for these elections.

In any case, let’s not forget why we have teachers’ unions in the public schools in the first place.

It’s all “for the children”, right?

Teachers Unions explained



  1. The sad truth is that for over 30 years the business community has stated our graduates can’t even spell correctly when filling out a job application – proof that unions haven’t positively influenced the success of our high school students. Public schools and teachers need to be held accountable not only for how our tax dollars are spent on education, but also the ability for their students to perform the basic skills of reading, writing, and arithmetic.

    However, we need to remember that creating an environment for success is a shared commitment between parents, educators, and students. Parents need to instill in their child the desire to be financially secure, independent, and a upstanding member of society; teachers need to provide the learning tools to help students be successful a business environment; and our young people need to recognize that they share in the responsibility to ensure their personal success.

    1. Charlona Sawyer wrote: “…creating an environment for success is a shared commitment between parents, educators, and students.”

      Peter Szalai routinely dismisses any and all claims that educators directly share any of the responsibility of which you speak. His letters to that effect include:

      There are real issues here

      Yet again, it’s teachers and their unions preventing children from learning. Teachers and their unions are soft targets that allow pundits, politicians and philanthropists to avoid dealing with the real, complicated, intractable and expensive reasons for poor student performance like poverty, ineffective parenting, lack of student effort, inadequate and inequitable funding of public education and legislative and judicial decisions that make it more difficult to teach effectively.

      Supposed bad teachers and their bad unions have little if nothing to do with the root causes of why Johnny can’t read or write or do math.

      — Peter Szalai, president, Oak Harbor Education Association, Oak Harbor

      Deal with true problems

      The Seattle Times lead editorial supporting yet another attempt to institute charter schools in Washington state [“Let’s talk about charters,” Opinion, May 27] supposes that students need to be rescued from failing public schools. The thinking here further assumes that schools are overregulated and overprotected by unions. If only schools could be free from regulation and unions, then students — newly unshackled — would have their achievement soar.

      Having been a public schoolteacher for 28 years in three school districts in two states, I can inform readers that educators have spent endless hours and much taxpayer funds on efforts far and wide to satisfy those who believe that the lack of reform is the reason why Johnny can’t read, write, or cipher. I guess we can continue to engage in a pursuit and admit that we haven’t seemed to resolve essential issues of student achievement over the past 15 or so years.

      Or we, as a society and culture, can finally begin to deal with the true problems, the real determiners of student success: poverty, student effort, parenting skills, adequate and equitable funding, and values such as work and personal accountability.

      Now, there’s an initiative I’d support!

      — Peter Szalai, Coupeville

      Catchy titles won’t improve classrooms

      The Seattle Times could not be more wrong in its advocacy for teacher pay pegged to student performance [“State should join race to reform education,” Opinion, editorial, Nov. 15].

      The uncomfortable truth about our supposedly failing schools isn’t that educators are somehow not motivated, trained, guided, mandated, paid or worked enough. It’s that students, parents and our society at large — including the media — see education as somehow wholly separate and distinct, a purview only of teachers, support staff and administrators.

      Students fail because they do not do the work, because parents are unwilling or unable to make them do the work, and because our culture no longer instills values that are essential for success at school, such as work ethic, personal accountability, persistence, resourcefulness, innovation and pride.

      No amount of reform, schemes, new programs with catchy titles like Race to the Top, or snake oil will ever substitute for joint and honest effort among everyone.

      But, of course, scapegoating others, rejecting shared responsibility and trumpeting meaningless solutions like paying teachers for better test scores will always win out in today’s culture over hard work.

      — Peter Szalai, Coupeville

      Yet, Peter painted himself as an “outsider” when running for the WEA President’s post:

      Time for an Outsider

      “Being not part of the dense WEA circular backslapping bureaucracy, I’ve offered my candidacy in a fairly unorthodox manner. The approved and expected route to higher position in WEA is to patiently and in sequence run for and hold offices of ever-increasing importance. And then obsequiously to collect as many endorsements from a very select group of 1200 voting delegates (85% of who are returnees, lifers) as possible. We’ve all seen the political ads where there are dozens and dozens of endorsers, usually appended with very important titles. I received one recently from a current candidate and I swear there were so many names that I think I saw the Dalai Lama’s name and maybe Bugs Bunny, too.

      Establishment candidates are well-schooled in the election procedure—purchasing and distributing all sorts of bric-a-brac (pens, candy, granola bars, full-color fliers on expensive paper), renting hospitality rooms, touring the state’s 21 UniServ councils, etc. There’s even a drawing for tables at the convention center to distribute campaign materials and if your name is drawn you get first pick! One former candidate told me that a traditional campaign costs about $15,000.

      At his invitation (an invitation he extended to all candidates), I had dinner this week with WEA’s Executive Director John Okamoto. His purpose was to answer questions about the WEA governance and administrative structures, and to get to know potential office holders. (The WEA is run by an Executive Committee and a Board of Directors, and the present president, Mary Lindquist is proposing reducing the size of the Board, while simultaneously reducing the number and nature of UniServ councils).

      The only candidate John had not worked with directly is me.

      I am running as an outsider, as someone who has not made his entire life’s ambition advancement through and endorsement by the WEA bureaucracy. My attention has been on my members, my advocacy is for them. I’m neither sycophant nor operative. I am a classroom teacher. It’s time that WEA has some fresh leadership outside of the company choir.”

  2. I honestly can’t think of any job where you can earn a salary without accountability for your job performance, and teachers shouldn’t be any exception. As far as I know we have never held our public school teachers accountable for their test results, so how can Peter Szalai assume that this would be a “meaningless solution?” The educator’s role should be to make available and provide the learning skills necessary for success. In the classroom they should encourage the positive traits of work ethic, personal accountability, honesty, resourcefulness, innovation, and reinforce pride in oneself and the work they have accomplished. History has shown that this simply hasn’t taken place within our public school system as it is currently set up. Maybe it is time for a change.

    1. Charlona, I entirely agree with you. In my eyes, the political correctness that crept into higher education through the decades and passed down to our children, plus the over-protection of the child through government agencies such as the Child Protective Services, has created an atmosphere of immunity from discipline in the child (at a very early age), and fear of prosecution for simple family discipline by the parents.

      Unfortunately, the child suffers in the long run being brainwashed to believe that it doesn’t matter what their performace is…they are entitled to success.

      Change, yes we need change, but I don’t think that is going to happen real quick. It took about five decades for this to gradually change our society.

      I graduated about 45 years ago and the teachers then had unspoken permission to perform light corporal punishment for bad behavior (how embarrassing!) and we were not exempt from double jeopardy when we got home. If we didn’t “cut the mustard” in our studies, we failed and did that class over again the next year. You had to be passing in ALL subjects before participating in extra-curricular activities. Imagine the shame, if your age group advanced without you. That was real incentive.

      Where do we start?

  3. BillB! Great article. Will you ever run headline that delineates your substantial defeat for OH School Board a few years back?

    1. Why would I choose to run what would be a duplicate story strictly about myself, about something that happened years ago, and which has already been reported in the WNT?

      Anyone can search at the WNT under my name and discover numerous letters and articles there, going back well more than a decade – just like I did when looking up Peter Szalai’s letters-to-the-editor, etc.

    2. I think the fact that he stood up and ran speaks a lot more than his defeat. At least he tried. You?

  4. BillB, Clif, Joe A Kunzler:

    What I fail to understand is how you can attack the OHEA rep (Szalai), essentially saying, through his loss, that he is not a qualified spokesperson for teachers, then note that your failed bid for school board is irrelevant. Since BillB lost (and it was not even close), then using your logic you should not be able to speak out about local education issues since a vast majority of the voters chose to reject your ideas.

    Cliff, what is this, a middle school civics class? Your attack on whether I have run for office is ridiculous. And what if I were to tell you that I have – successfully? That really lacks relevance as well.

    1. Walt’s arguments are pretty shaky.

      Walt stated: “What I fail to understand is how you can attack the OHEA rep (Szalai), essentially saying, through his loss, that he is not a qualified spokesperson for teachers…”

      In reality, it was Peter Szalai’s peers (not us) who rejected his bid for WEA President. Peter makes his own bid with respect to his qualifications in his bio. Links to his additional qualifications are provided in the article, too. The phrase “not qualified” first appeared only in Walt’s comments. Local teachers apparently believe Peter Szalai to be an excellent spokesperson for THEIR monetary and working-condition’s interests.

      Walt stated: “…then note that your failed bid for school board is irrelevant.”

      In reality, the word “irrelevant” never came up before now. That event did, however, happen some time ago, but you are free to research and submit an article to IP all about me and all about that event if you like, and maybe we will give you the “headline” that you so apparently very much want to see on that topic.

      Walt claims: “..using your logic you should not be able to speak out about local education issues..”

      In reality, except for Walt, nobody here appears to have made such a logical argument, as there is no seemingly logical argument against anyone not being able to speak out about local education issues (or, about any other issue for that matter – except for things like an elected official having a conflict of interest), and we have not suggested that Peter Szalai’s failed bid for WEA president should cause him to be silent, either.

      Walt said: “…since a vast majority of the voters chose to reject your ideas.”

      I seriously doubt the “vast majority of voters” had or now have any idea what my ideas are, but perhaps Walt can enlighten us as to his knowledge of my ideas to show that at last Walt knows what he is talking about in this regard. You can do that in the article I have invited you to submit to IP.

      Walt asks: “what is this, a middle school civics class? ”

      In reality, Walt likes to asks middle-school quality questions, but when he gets answers he does not like, he likes to resort to ad hominem-like responses. See “Ad Hominem (Argument To The Man)”: http://www.don-lindsay-archive.org/skeptic/arguments.html#hominem

      Walt claims: “…whether I have run for office is ridiculous. And what if I were to tell you that I have – successfully? That really lacks relevance as well.”

      In reality, Walt has now resorted to an argument of inconsistency. See “Inconsistency” :
      http://www.don-lindsay-archive.org/skeptic/arguments.html#hominem since he repeatedly suggests some sort of clear relevancy as to BilB’s former run at being a School Board Director, but then 100% dismisses all relevancy , either way, as to whether or not he himself has ever run for any elected position in the past or as to whether, and, it seems, whether or not ANYONE has ever run for or been elected to ANY public office.

    2. Number one, we do not need a spokesman and advocate for teachers. We need an advocate and spokesman for educating our children and controlling costs in our education system. Peter Szalai is neither. Maybe you can tell us what he has done to control costs? Or how he has changed our educational system to be responsible with the taxpayer dollars and give better education to our children? It seems to us that we are spending more money for less education.

      As for Billb running for school board I am not sure what his failed bid has to do with your concept of why he should now remain silent on school issues. He ran with opposition from both the OHEA and the School Board. As they largely control the conversation and public opinion over education issues this is not surprising. For someone to run that is outside the system and knowing he will not have the support of the powers that be says a lot more for his character than another person that is rubber stamped by the system and recommended by the school board and OHEA. At least he had the moxy to run and run on a platform of change. We need more Billb’s not less.

      You are the commenter that made the comment “Will you ever run headline that delineates your substantial defeat for OH School Board a few years back?”

      You made an offhand attack on Bill because he lost an election for school board. You are alluding that because he lost he should lose his voice on school issues and you want to make it appear that his loss makes his opinions invalid.

      We know Billb ran and lost. That is a credit to him, at least he made an attempt. You? We have no idea if what you are telling us is fact or not. In your case we have no idea. Billb makes his opinions known publically while you post anonymously and under several different names. Are you Walt? Or Kenneth? Or Trent? Or Russell? Or Cam? It is easy for people to make anonymous comments but this is not the case with Bill and that is to his credit not yours.

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