Creativity Helps Educators Get Out the Vote

From Raging Grannies in Fresno to an open-top double decker bus in San Diego, educators harnessed their passion and creativity to get out the vote this weekend in support of Proposition 30 and to oppose Proposition 32.

After a weekend that included a lot of walking and talking to strangers about issues that can often be controversial, many came away feeling energized and ready for the final two weeks before the election.

"It's important for voters to understand the truth about Propositions 30 and 32. A lot of people are unaware that 32 is very deceptive," said CTA Boardmember Curtis Washington. "When people understand the truth you can see a light going on in their head. As a teacher I love to see that light go on."

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Gov Jerry Brown joins educators to Get Out the Vote

As part of our Community-based State Council weekend, Governor Jerry Brown joined educators in San Francisco to get out the vote and encourage voters to pass Proposition 30.

Before they headed out to knock on doors, Brown spoke about why he feels Prop 30 is the right answer for our state: "Proposition 30 is about jobs, because it's about kids and teachers, and they produce the brains and the skills to make the jobs of the future possible. Proposition 30 is key to building our future."

Watch the video:

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Dialing for School Dollars, Campaign Fairness

Alice Mercer of Bancroft Elementary tapes Kara Synhorst or Luther Burbank in a video testimony about why she opposes Proposition 32.

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San Diego educators: Prop 30 is vital to helping fight incarceration

SDEA Executive Boardmember Erin Kole and Vice President Lindsay Burningham

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New Survey: Voters Give Local Schools High Grades

The Public Policy Institute of California found that 60% of parents and 52% of all adults rate their local public schools highly.

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SDUSD discourages school nurses from participating in layoff hearings

The San Diego Education Association yesterday released the following statement regarding local due process hearings.

“The SDUSD school district’s discouragement of school nurses targeted for layoff to participate in due process hearings related to their job status on Thursday, April 19, absolutely verifies that if they eliminate these vital nursing positions, the district cannot hope to keep San Diego students safe widthout them,” said SDEA President Bill Freeman. “If they can’t find substitute nurses to cope width full-time nurses for even one day, how can they pretend that students won’t be in absolute jeopardy next year if they follow through width eliminating these nurses permanently?”

SDUSD school nurses provide vital front-line health and safety services for the district’s 134,000 students and their families. By giving insulin shots, screening and writing Individualized Health Care Plans, teaching staff how to give medications – including emergency medications based on doctors’ orders related to life-threatening conditions – school nurses are often all that stands in the way of “sentinel events,” unexpected occurrences involving serious physical and psychological injuries or even death.

If SDUSD follows through width eliminating over 40 school nurses who received “pink slip” layoff notices in mid-March, verified by the district’s own numbers, it will mean that 122 district schools will not meet contractual safe staffing conditions. It will be impossible for SDUSD to guarantee even minimal nursing services, much less emergency health services. The fact that the district has no current nursing “sub” pool guarantees that once laid-off, the SDUSD nurses will have no problem finding better-paid work.

“These dedicated hard-working health care professionals find themselves driving around all day to cover one procedure after another, in addition to handling emergencies, assessments and teaching their colleagues, for one reason alone – love for their students, their families and of their mission,” said Freeman. “Who is going to take their places? And more importantly, what are our students going to do widthout them?”

“Our schools are NOT safe now, and width even more cuts, the future looks very bleak for student safety and learning. This is not right! The school board must do the right thing, rescind the layoffs and follow the contractual nursing ratios NOW!”

The coming havoc that will ensue if the targeted school nurses are actually laid off is but one example of the devastation to public education the San Diego community can expect if SDUSD follows through width the planned elimination of over 1,600 educator, counselor and nurse positions.

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Parent Revolution: Stop Lying About CTA

Parent Revolution needs to stop lying about the California Teachers Association. Over the past several days that organization has, predictably, sent out attacks blaming CTA for their failure to reach the parent majority signature threshold needed to invoke California’s new parent trigger law at Desert Trails Elementary, a struggling school in the Southern California desert community of Adelanto. Because what’s been happening in Adelanto has been a local, parent-driven effort, CTA has made every effort to take the high road, to ignore Parent Revolution’s ridiculous attacks on us, and to steer media focus back to Adelanto, the chaotic parent trigger law, and to the concerned parents and educators grappling width important issues there. But as Parent Revolution continues to lie and overstate our role, and to use press releases to forward false allegations, we’d like to set the record straight.

CTA’s role in Adelanto

Here are the facts: Our local affiliate, the Adelanto District Teachers Association (ADTA), has one CTA staff person who lives in the high desert community, and who works width ADTA and width many other CTA affiliate chapters in the area on a myriad of issues like contract negotiations, professional development, grievance processing, building strong community relations, and general problem solving. After the parent trigger was pulled at Desert Trails, school parents who opposed the petition (some of whom had not even been approached to sign or given an opportunity to voice their opinion), asked to meet width ADTA to discuss ways to redress the situation, if possible. Having been more or less blindsided and not included in the trigger effort discussions, and hearing different things from different parents about what the petition actually meant, they sought discussion width ADTA in development of a parent-led effort to have conversations and clarify what petition signers had been told, to provide forums for open discussion, and to allow people to state for the record their experience if in fact petitioners had not followed the process correctly.

The CTA local staff person, who, again, is not assigned full time to Adelanto, invited colleagues width additional expertise in charter school law and bilingual community outreach to provide Spanish language translation help and  to provide explanations of the parent trigger and charter school laws. Those two CTA staff members were in Adelanto on a very intermittent basis. Other local high desert teachers who live near Desert Trails were invited in to assist parents. Area teachers who could provide insight into local reform efforts that were improving achievement at schools in surrounding districts also offered assistance. All of this was a back seat to and in support of the local, parent-led effort to get the truth out.

Lies, lies, and darned lies

Yet Parent Revolution continues to send out breathless press releases and fabricate or hallucinate “cadres of CTA operatives flown in from Sacramento,” when there is absolutely no truth to this. Their Executive Director, Mr. Ben Austin, is simply making things up.  And while making these utterly false (and mostly irrelevant) charges, Mr. Austin never mentions the fact that Parent Revolution has had a paid, full-time organizer and additional help in Adelanto, and that they paid to rent a house up there as a headquarters (where it’s reported they held a hastily arranged “parent movie night” to conflict width a scheduled open parent forum organized by anti-trigger parents).

More offensive than grossly inflating any CTA involvement in Adelanto, is Parent Revolution’s perpetuation through pro-trigger bloggers at the LA Weekly and the Wall Street Journal the insinuation that we’re somehow connected to alleged strong-arm tactics that include deportation threats. This loathsome smear runs counter to virtually every human rights position CTA holds dear. In fact, after CTA  alerted a Washington Post reporter to upcoming parent forums in Adelanto and suggested she attend, we then actually respectfully retracted the invitation to one scheduled for Spanish language speaking parents when some expressed concern for their privacy because of their immigration status (that reporter did attend another English language parent forum the next day).

Compton: The Trigger That Mysteriously Disappeared

This is not the first time Parent Revolution has come out swinging width a sledgehammer of lies or misdirection. After parents (including the  school  PTA president) at  McKinley Elementary school in Compton accused Parent Revolution of misrepresentation and stories of harassment by organizers began to emerge in the press, they launched highly publicized and vicious attacks against the McKinley school staff accusing them of the same tactics and, sadly,  many news outlets bought into it and stopped paying attention to early complaints about Parent Revolution’s heavy-handed signature gathering. Parent Revolution even tried to crush individual teachers by encouraging and publicizing frivolous complaints of federal civil rights violations against them. Has Parent Revolution yet apologized to the teachers involved? And why have they purged virtually every blog posted to their website between December2010 and August 2011? Are they trying to make their showcase “historic first” in Compton and all their over-the-top attacks disappear?

Given the large numbers of signature rescissions in Adelanto, to believe Parent Revolution’s current story, you’d have believe that dozens of parents were misled, harassed, or intimidated into filling out rescission forms on which they stated they had been, misled, harassed, or intimidated.

Parent Revolution has no experience in education reform and no track record of improving student achievement anywhere. They believe the Parent Trigger is a magic bullet and therefore it is the only bullet (other than grossly over the top and deceptive public relations campaigns) in their arsenal.

If the parent trigger is a flawed law on paper, so far it’s been an unmitigated disaster in practice. It encourages division and pits parents against parents in what can escalate into a bitter political-style campaign instead of an informed discussion or debate about improving things for kids. It excludes up to 49% of parents from even being notified of what’s happening at their child’s school. It excludes virtually every parent who did not sign a trigger petition (either by choice or by not being asked) from participation in further crucial decisions about the school once the trigger is pulled.  And Parent Revolution’s scorched-earth, win-at-all-costs approach makes any meaningful and inclusive discussion about how to improve things for children at the school secondary to “winning” a petition victory.

CTA would like to shift the focus of this story back to the flawed trigger law, and to Adelanto and the parents, teachers, and students grappling width real reform issues there, but Parent Revolution wants to continue to make this somehow about us. Instead of making up stories about planes and phantom cadres of “operatives”, they should deal width the real questions that deserve answers.
  • Were Adelanto parents fully informed?
  • Was an attempt made to have as many parents as possible involved or were some excluded?
  • Was signature gathering done in an open atmosphere where all school reform options were on the table, and where new school leadership had an opportunity to ensure parents were aware of current efforts to improve student achievement?
  • And, given the huge numbers of rescissions and petition errors, is this really what a true majority of Desert Trails parents wants?
Parent Revolution has falsely accused CTA of lies, breaking the law, strong-arm tactics, and creating division.  Instead of attacking us, they should stop lying, answer the above questions, and stop projecting their own tactics and behavior on others at the expense of students and communities.

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Sacramento Educators Protest Former D.C. Schools Chief Rhee's Anti-teacher Stance

(SACRAMENTO, Calif. ) 25 January 2012 -- More than 50 local educators demonstrated outside the Sacramento public library Wednesday evening where former Washingon D.C. Chancellor of Schools Michelle Rhee was slated to speak to a gathering audience.

Wearing gags to symbolize Rhee’s desire to undermine  unions and muzzle their voices, the educators decried Rhee's assertions that only organizations like hers speak for students.

Teachers unions, including the California Teachers Association and its national  affiliate, have long been engaged in efforts to provide every student width an  excellent education.  In California, CTA spearheaded the Quality Education Investment Act (QEIA) that is targeting billions of dollars to help shrink the achievement gap and bolster academics in some of the state’s most challenged schools.

Photo and story by Len Feldman

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Vallejo educators help local kids with school supplies

To 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 four nights this week supplying much-needed school supplies and books that the union is donating to 2,000 Vallejo students. The donating starts Monday, making this the third year in a row that educators are helping students width 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. “Families are struggling in Vallejo. We continue to see the need to help our students by providing them width some of the school supplies they need and deserve.” 
Teachers will distribute to students 2,000 bags of pens, pencils, notebooks, coloring pencils, crayons, erasers and bookmarks at four locations in town. High school students get calculators. In addition, students will get free books to take home and enjoy, thanks to the donation of many boxes of books from the Vallejo Friends of the Library.

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Every child deserves a chance to learn and no child succeeds alone.

© 1999- California Teachers Association