Veteran teacher Moselean Parker has union in her blood. Her parents were such devoted union members that, after her first day teaching, all her mother wanted to know was if she met the school’s delegate.
She did meet the delegate and now she’s one herself.
In that role and as chair of the Professional Problems Committee she uses a message of love and caring to build unity and solidarity in her school. Charged with enforcing the CTU’s contract, Parker ensures the PPC has its own identity and is known throughout the building.
For example, the PPC members get t-shirts, personalized with each member’s name, that are worn to meetings with the principal. This helps build solidarity on the committee and send a message to the rest of the building’s staff. The t-shirts are so popular that last year’s principal even asked for one.
The back of this year’s shirts say, “We solve problems.” Problems like: overheated classrooms in the summer and icy, snow-packed sidewalks and parking lots or getting the principal to respond to staff emails within 48 hours. The PPC has addressed those and other issues in recent years.
But, Parker is quick to note that it’s the dynamic teachers and staff that make things work at Mckay.
“I couldn’t do anything without all the dynamic, dedicated teachers and staff at our school,” she said. “That makes all the difference in the world.”
The PPC also encourages members to “Get Caught Wearing Red” on Fridays and rewards those who comply with a small treat.
“My philosophy is simple,” Parker said. “Listen to and love on the members at your school. If you love your members, they will come out for you.”
Parker cut her union chops with her parents, who were tried and true union members. As a child, she recalls spending many hours on the picket line with them. Her father was a meat packer and her mother a factory worker so she saw first hand the importance of union activism at a young age.
Born and raised in Chicago and a proud CPS graduate, the teaching bug bit her at age 12, when her mother encouraged her to tutor CPS students during the many strikes of that era. And some very caring CPS educators also inspired her.
A 28-year CPS veteran, Parker has been at Englewood’s McKay Elementary School for 20 plus years, currently serving as interventionist. She has always been an active CTU member, serving on the union’s executive board for 10 years and as a former HOD sergeant at arms.
“I was always active in the CTU,” Parker said. “But Karen Lewis really lit a fire under me because, before Karen, the union was just going through the motions.”
One thing is for sure. CTU doesn’t just go through the motions any more — and neither does Parker.