Locals

UTLA Science Teacher Victorious

Greg Schiller, the LAUSD science teacher who was removed from his school in February in a flap over science fair experiments, will be back at Cortines School of Visual & Performing Arts tomorrow. Schiller has been languishing in “teacher jail” since February, unable to help his students prepare for the AP exams or coach his fencing team.

The community, parents, and students came to Schiller’s defense, holding a series of protests demanding that the District allow him back into the classroom.

Schiller has been vocal in explaining that the two student experiments were in no way dangerous and he had not even seen them when an administrator pulled them from the science fair and sent Schiller to “teacher jail.” Many in the scientific community were in disbelief that the experiments that were built to convert one form of energy to another could be mistaken for “imitation weapons.”


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San Francisco Teachers and Literacy Advocates Give Away 40,000 Free Books for Low-Income Students

It was an act of generosity that speaks volumes about the need for books in public schools. About 40,000 brand new donated books were handed out free to Bay Area teachers who work with low-income students on Saturday in a project mainly coordinated by United Educators of San Francisco (UESF) and First Book San Francisco, a literacy advocacy group that’s part of a national network.

Educators lined up in San Francisco around the block (see photo) to get free books to give to their students so students can start building home libraries and begin appreciating the power and fun of reading. The San Francisco Chronicle covered the extraordinary event that was made possible by numerous sponsors and more than 100 volunteers. It was also supported by the American Federation of Teachers.

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Alpine Teachers to Strike, Beginning Feb. 20

Alpine Teachers Association members will go out in an Unfair Labor Practice strike, beginning at 6:00 a.m., February 20, as the result of a decision made at yesterday's general membership meeting.

Although ATA members were hopeful that the district would return to the bargaining table with fair, reasonable settlement proposals, they were met instead with a rehash of the same offer the district had made in a previous proposal rejected by ATA members on February 5: a 7.58% salary cut and an $8,000 health benefits cap effective January 1, 2014, that will leave many ATA members with 30% or more less per year in total compensation. Because the district will extract double health benefits cuts for May and June, some members will receive NO pay in those months.

“Unfortunately, the district is intent on building their reserve fund and breaking teachers’ backs financially, based on faulty financial assumptions,” said ATA President Gayle Malone. “Ultimately, it is the students and the entire community who will suffer.” 

 

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Alpine Teachers Association Strike Fund Growing

Delegates to the California Teachers Association's State Council meeting in Los Angeles swelled the Alpine Teachers Association's strike fund by over $20,000 this weekend alone (January 25-26, 2014) in a flurry of union solidarity with their San Diego County colleagues.

CTA chapters and individual members from throughout California matched other donations or raised the ante to provide support for Alpine teachers should they have to walk picket lines. Chapter contributions include $1,000 from the San Jose Teachers Association, $2,000 from United Educators of San Francisco, and $5,000 from the San Diego Education Association. Once CTA's over 1,000 chapters and 325,000 individual members have opportunity to join in the drive, the potential for additional financial support is exponential.

Alpine Teachers Association members voted overwhelmingly to give their executive board authority to call for a strike. They did so in response to draconian salary and benefits cuts callously imposed by the Alpine Unified School District Board of Education.

A significant number of ATA members will be financially crippled by losing up to 35 percent of their annual compensation. "None of us want to strike," said ATA President Gayle Malone, "but the board's punitive imposition leaves us no viable alternative if they persist in failing to bargain with us fairly."

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Yuba City teachers have been without a contract for two years

Last week, just a month after a major demonstration, hundreds of Yuba City educators, parents and concerned community members attended a school board meeting to urge the district to reach a settlement that at least provides comparable salaries to teachers in nearby Marysville, who earn $10,000 more a year.

Another concern:  teachers – primarily female teachers – have been penalized for accessing their medical leave for pregnancies, nursing critically ill spouses, caring for elderly parents, and dealing with their own health crises. The district refused to advance these teachers on the salary schedule, resulting in them earning substantially less than their colleagues. The district, in the meantime, has ignored a decision by a neutral arbitrator in favor of the teachers, and is even attempting to “memorialize” this unjust practice in its current contract proposal.

Listen to Yuba City Teachers Association President Dina Luetgens express frustration that teachers have met 39 times in two years in bargaining sessions, to no avail.

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Hundreds attend Alpine School Board meeting to support teachers

Alpine TA board meetingExcept for the part when the school board unanimously approved the imposition that, if stands, could cut almost half of Alpine teachers’ compensation by more than 30 percent, last night’s board meeting, with almost 300 people in attendance, was a raucous, one-sided diatribe in support of Alpine Teachers Association members. 

Members, parents and community supporters verbally eviscerated Superintendent Tom Pellegrino and the school board, at times tearfully poignant, at other times stridently caustic. Teachers cited the inevitability of losing their homes, being unable to continue support for children in college and keeping insurance for critically ill and handicapped children. One part-time, job-share teacher with considerable experience and an advanced degree said she would be making only minimum wage should the imposition stand. Parents, who significantly recognized that what hurts teachers ultimately hurts their children, promised to honor a strike, with one even saying that they would permanently transfer their children to other surrounding districts should a job action occur.

San Diego Channel 10 news covered the event, and this clip that aired gives a snapshot of the almost three-hour board meeting.


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Even the Grinch can’t believe the Alpine school district’s plan to impose drastic cuts right before Christmas

Alpine Teachers AssociationEven the Grinch can’t believe the Alpine Unified School District plans to cut the salary and benefits of almost half of Alpine’s educators by 32 percent right before Christmas. 

That’s why he’ll be joining Alpine Teachers Association (ATA) members, parents, students, community members and fellow CTA members throughout San Diego County at a rally to protest the Alpine Unified School District’s plan to impose draconian salary and benefits cuts in a special board meeting that will begin at 5pm tonight. Get directions.

Although ATA accepted a fact finder’s recommendation for a fair settlement, the district rejected the proposal last Friday, announcing its determination to ram through its outrageous demands: an $8,000 health benefits cap and a 7.85 percent cut in salary.

Out of 43 San Diego County districts, Alpine’s teachers are already next to last in salary. Despite the district’s outrageous claims and demands, Alpine members are resolved to hold out for a fair contract settlement.

“The district seems intent on diverting attention away from its own culpability of inaccurate budget projections and unwise, unnecessary spending, by scapegoating teachers and crippling us financially," said ATA President Gayle Malone. "But Alpine’s teachers care too much about our students, the community and our profession to stand by while the district damages the town’s ability to provide quality education for its students.” 

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Sweetwater EA Stands Up to 11th-hour Change in Health Benefits

Sweetwater Education Association members Sweetwater Education Association members in San Diego County face an eleventh hour change in the district contribution to health benefits that could cost them in excess of $3,000. Superintendent Ed Brand presented the new bargaining proposal on October 7, three weeks before open enrollment was set to begin, threatening to impose the change if SEA does not accept it. 

“The district is trying to unethically use benefits as a way to extract concessions during current contract negotiations,” said SEA President Roberto Rodriguez, adding that the move would hit SEA families hard.

Kicking into gear, SEA’s organizing team coordinated a “Trunk or Treat” rally in the district office parking lot before a school board meeting, with teachers bringing their children to collect treats from the trunks of SEA members’ cars. Pizza was provided for an estimated 600 attendees. “We wanted to demonstrate that SEA knows how to treat our families,” said Helen Farias, SEA organizing chair.

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Vallejo Educators Donate School Supplies to Help 2,000 Students

Vallejo Unified teacher Loree Tackmier, transitional kindergarten and childcare director for Vallejo Education Association, with one of the student recipientsTo help their hard-hit community and the families they teach, members of the union representing educators in the Vallejo City Unified School District will spend three afternoons this week supplying much-needed school supplies and books that the union is donating to 2,000 Vallejo students. This will be the fifth year in a row that educators are helping students in their community with free supplies.

As educators, we understand that investing in our students and schools means investing in our community’s future,” said Christal Watts, president of the Vallejo Education Association. “Even though the economy is getting better, many of the families we serve are still struggling in Vallejo. We are proud of this effort to give back and provide just a little bit of extra help by giving school supplies to help our kids in school.

Teachers will distribute to students 2,000 bags of pens, pencils, notebooks, coloring pencils, crayons, erasers and bookmarks at four locations in town. In addition, as in previous years, the Vallejo Friends of the Library are donating several hundred books for students to take home and enjoy.

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Ramona Teachers Reach Tentative Contract Agreement

With the assistance of the Public Employee Relations Board’s General Counsel and Regional Attorney, the Ramona Teachers Association reached a tentative contract agreement width the Ramona School District’s negotiations team late Wednesday evening, May 29, 2013.

The specific terms of the agreement will not be released until RTA’s membership has had an opportunity to review them. RTA’s negotiations team and leadership will recommend that RTA members vote to ratify the tentative agreement in the near future at a meeting for which a date has not yet been determined.

“Reaching the tentative agreement has avoided costly litigation over the district’s imposition and the trauma of a strike on students, the community and RTA members,” said RTA President Donna Braye-Romero. “This tentative agreement brings a settlement that is widthin the realm of reason for both parties.”

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