Free Mumia! And Tunisia! A Play In One Act

Update: I have been informed that this play is anything but clear (thank you!). So. Every resolution listed below was indeed adopted by the California Federation of Teachers at their last meeting. Click on the link for the PDF. The CFT website shows Pechthalt, Butler, and Wisconsins’s Kennedy in a group photo, showing solidarity. It is my contention that the CFT is wasting time and money by resolving to “Free Mumia” etc. Hardly any of the many, many resolutions adopted had anything to do with education directly. I reasoned this negligence and absurd overreach had to be the result of high spirits. The location of the meeting was indeed Manhattan Beach.

Scene: Manhattan Beach, California. Sunny, 76o, oiled bodies, volleyball, cool refreshment, a mild surf. A throng of thonged union representatives surround three people behind a makeshift podium made from cases of beer. The throng is restless, festive, and free with their commentary. They are discussing the “Resolutions Committee Report” (from which all resolutions mentioned below were lifted; HT Kyle Olson).

Players: CFT president Joshua Pechthalt, CFT Classified Council president Velma Butler, president of the Wisconsin Federation of Teachers Bryan Kennedy, and several delegates.


Pechthalt: All right Butler, settle ’em down. There’ll be plenty of time for that after we finish the meeting.

Delegate: I’ll drink to that!

Butler: Listen up, people! We have to pass these resolutions. My spa is less than an hour and I’m not missing it for you. (Laughter)

Pechthalt: First order of business. Let’s welcome our Wisconsin brother, a man leading a fight that’s our fight, too. Ladies and men, Bryan Kennedy!

Kennedy: Thank y—

Pechthalt: (Jokingly) That’s enough outta you. Somebody get this man a beer. Okay and to it. What’s our resolutions this year?

Delegate: Free Mumia! (Laughter all around)

Pechthalt: Fine. Butler, put this down: (In formal tones) “Whereas, the continued unjust incarceration of Mumia Abu-Jamal represents a threat to the civil rights of all people;” etc., etc. Fill in the rest later.

(Shouts, laughter in the crowd.)

Butler: The chair recognizes Maria. What did you say?

Maria: (Giggling) I told Mr Lover here to keep his hands off my swimsuit.

Mr Lover: (Drunk) You know you want it.

Pechthalt: A fine resolution. “Whereas, as far too many women know, bruises and broken bones do not define rape – a lack of consent does.” People, the CFT is foursquare against no taxpayer funding for abortion.

Kennedy: Wisconsin teachers have never liked rape.

Pechthalt: Thank you, Mr Kennedy. A subtle observation. What’s next?

Delegate: What about Tunisia?

Another Delegate: Up with Tunisian Teachers!

Kennedy: (To Pechthalt) Where’s Tunisia?

Pechthalt: Do I look like a geographer?

Delegate: Tunisia is an island or something. It’s overseas? They have like some president who was all “I’m spending all the money.” He can’t do that! The police were all like, “I’m taking that guy’s fruit stand” and the president goes, “That’s my fruit.”

Pechthalt: (To Butler) What the hell is she going on about?

Butler: I have no idea. She’s always got some bug up her ass. You know she represents the second largest number of teachers.

Pechthalt: (To Butler) Right. (To all). We have a new resolution! Butler, put this down. “Be it resolved, that the California Federation of Teachers write a letter to President
Barrack Obama and the Secretary of State urging them to support the people’s movement in Tunisia,” and, what the hell, “Egypt, Yemen, and Bahrain, and to demand that the current governments of Tunisia and Egypt free all remaining political prisoners, stop the brutal and corrupt actions of the police, remove all former ruling party officials, institute immediately plans for a general election, and insist on the protection of all nonviolent protestors, particularly students, teachers, and union members, as they continue their struggle for justice.”

Delegate: (Starting a chant) Tax the rich! Tax the rich! Pay their fair share! Give me the money!

Butler: (To Pechthalt) Should we just continue the old resolution or start a new one?

Kennedy: In Wisconsin—

Pechthalt: Look here, Kennedy. That’s enough Wisconsin for one damn day. For Christ’s sake, let’s just get this over with. (To Butler) Use the old resolution, but give it a different name so it looks new. Takes too much time to write a new one every damn year.

Butler: Then I suggest we don’t go in alone. Let’s bring in the “Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE, formerly ACORN), the PICO (Pacific Institute for Community Organization) network, the Courage Campaign, the State PTA, the Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters” and whoever else will sign on.

Pechthalt: Fine, fine; whatever. Are we finished?

Delegate: Obama’s gotta walk with us!

Pechthalt: (With a sigh) Put it in Butler. And toss in something about Wisconsin, for our very great friend Mr Kennedy. (Kennedy smiles sheepishly)

Delegate: Methyl iodide!

Butler: (Before Pechthalt can speak) It’s used as a preservative in some agricultural products.

Pechthalt: This one’s your fault, Butler. You had to bring up the damn Sierra Club. Okay, fine, fine. Just to end it. Put in something about a buffer zone around schools. No mistle iodine, or whatever the hell it is, within 500 feet, or some other damn number. Keep them kiddies safe.

Butler: The ranchers—

Pechthalt: Hang the ranchers! For crying out loud, if I don’t get this shirt off I’ll miss any chance of working on my tan. This is it. No more. Just copy some of the old resolutions and put today’s date on them. Nobody’s gonna notice.

Butler: Yes sir.

Pechthalt: Wait a minute, wait a minute. I was wrong. (To the crowd) For the last resolution, I ask this august body to approve an increase in member’s dues! These meetings don’t come cheap, you know. And next year’s Malibu.

All: Here, here! Aye! I vote yes! Etc., etc.


  1. Tom S is asking the wrong question. The problem with the CFT convention and their resolutions has very little to do with teacher’s pay, per se, [unless those pay scales are vastly above parity with comparable skill sets in the private sector]. IMO the correct question should be “Are American educational systems too costly?”

    School districts commonly kow-tow to the CFT, “fixing” the “bad-teacher-with-tenure” problem by becoming top-heavy with administrators – former teachers who no longer teach but by rights must earn more than mere teachers, correct? A meaningful chart would show the difference between the number of district employees with credentials who always teach and those who seldom [or never] teach anymore.

    There are far too many dedicated, resourceful and effective California teachers out there being sabotaged by school administrations filled with numbers crunchers who’ve long ago forgotten the reason they wanted to become teachers, and are now obsessed with protecting and growing “turf”. Those are the folks the CFT work with, and the class-room drones are simply necessary to sustain the life of the hive.

  2. LarryT

    As a resident of philadelphia and familiar with the true facts

    Delegate: Free Mumia! (Laughter all around)

    Pechthalt: Fine. Butler, put this down: (In formal tones) “Whereas, the continued unjust incarceration of Mumia Abu-Jamal represents a threat to the civil rights of all people;” etc., etc. Fill in the rest later.

    qnyone who wants to free him, i do not want anywhere near children

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