California Teachers Union Conducted Research Targeting Parent Group, Emails Show

By Cynthia Cai
Cynthia Cai
Cynthia Cai
Reporter
Cynthia is a reporter based in the San Francisco Bay Area covering Northern California news.
September 15, 2022 Updated: September 15, 2022

Recent emails that were revealed through a public records request show that California Teachers Association (CTA) conducted opposition research targeting Parent Association, a grassroots parent group that worked to get schools reopened during pandemic lockdowns.

Opposition research is the practice of collecting information on a political opponent or other adversary that can be used to publicly discredit or otherwise weaken them.

Reopen California Schools, another parent group, revealed the emails on Sept. 5 in a Twitter post. Jonathan Zachreson, founder of Reopen California Schools, told NTD, a sister media of The Epoch Times, that the original public records request stemmed from a different case.

“The public records request came from parents down in San Diego at this particular school district unrelated to this incident that we came across,” said Zachreson. “In gathering documents for this, they noticed that their particular organization, Parent Association, was targeted by the California Teachers Association.”

Email screenshots revealed that CTA research assistant Ann Swinburn was investigating Parent Association and its financing.

The emails show that a principal was accidentally cc’d into the email chain. Two individuals by the names Holly and Michele then talked about “damage control” and asking the principal to delete the email.

Swinburn has since deleted her Twitter account.

Epoch Times Photo
A screenshot of Ann Swinburn’s now deleted Twitter account. (Screenshot via ReopenCASchools Twitter)

“Before she deleted [her account], even through some archives, we see comments of her making, essentially to that point over and over again, that she is trying to find out these groups. … ‘This is right-wing dark money groups that are funding this, and we have got to find out the pattern and find out who’s funding them, and ultimately discredit them,’” said Zachreson.

The public records request and revelation came after Parent Association successfully sued the state of California to reopen schools in March 2021.

The lawsuit challenged a lawsuit the local San Diego Unified School District union filed in December 2020. With support from CTA, the union had sued the district to keep schools closed.

According to Zachreson, CTA is very involved politically. The association has around 310,000 members and is one of the most powerful teachers unions in the state.

Zachreson described the teachers union’s tactics as a “smear campaign” against grassroots parent groups.

“A year and a half ago, when we were trying to get schools open, we were called racist; we were called white supremacists,” said Zachreson. “We were called all sorts of names to try to discredit that fact that we just wanted our kids in schools.”

NTD reached out to CTA for comment.

Cynthia Cai
Reporter
Cynthia is a reporter based in the San Francisco Bay Area covering Northern California news.