The Blog

North Hollywood Educator To Receive National Recognition

Mel HouseMel House, a physical education educator at Rio Vista Elementary School in North Hollywood, CA, will receive the 2015 California Casualty Award for Teaching Excellence, one of public education’s most prestigious awards.

House is among 39 public educators who will be honored at the NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education Gala to be held in Washington, DC on February 13, 2015. One of public education’s most anticipated events, the gala attracts more than 850 of the nation’s leaders from public education, philanthropy, and the private sector.

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CTA/NEA Retired Presents Scholarships Honoring Russo

CTANEA Scholarship RussoMembers of the CTA/NEA Retired Association presented two $1,000 scholarships Thursday to two college students in a Bay Area ceremony. This was the first annual awarding of the Sharilynn Gardella Russo Memorial Scholarship to honor the education contributions of Russo, who worked for over 35 years as a speech and language pathologist and audiologist for the Contra Costa County Office of Education.

There is currently a shortage in California of speech and language pathologists and their assistants. “With these CTA scholarships we hope to encourage students to enroll in these programs,” the CTA/NEA Retired said in a statement, and the two students receiving the scholarships are going on to study in this field. The award event was held in the Sharilynn Gardella Russo Conference Room at the CTA Regional Resource Center office in Concord. Russo died in a car accident in 2012 shortly after being elected president of CTA/NEA Retired.

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Educators Urge Senate Education Members to Vote for Key Cosponsored Bills

(From right) Sen. Marty Block (D-San Diego) discusses two key CTA cosponsored bills with three educators, Liz Esquiel Waterman, a fourth-grade teacher at Terra Bella Elementary in Terra Bella;  Chantaine Fauntleroy, a teacher at Bret Harte Middle School in Hayward; and Deborah Adams Behm, a fifth-grade teacher at Stone Elementary in Alvord.

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Teachers Seek Charter Accountability, Employment Fairness

(Photo above) CTA Legislative Advocate Seth Bramble explains some of the finer points of two CTA-backed measures to a group of educators, including (from r.) Deborah Adams Behm, a fifth-grade teacher at Stone Elementary in Alvord, Chantaine Fauntleroy, a teacher at Bret Harte Middle School in Hayward, and (not pictured) Liz Esquiel Waterman, a fourth-grade teacher at Terra Bella Elementary in Terra Bella.

The teachers came to Sacramento today in support of two CTA-backed measures that will separately increase transparency and accountability for charter schools and provide employment equity to a small group of educators not now receiving fair treatment.

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TAKE ACTION: Help Win Passage of CTA's Mandatory Kindergarten Bill

CTA believes in providing students with a quality education beginning the very moment they get to our schools. Mandatory kindergarten before first grade will help build the critical skills for student success. 

CTA is sponsoring AB 1444 (Buchanan/Weber) because kindergarten provides students with that much-needed, early learning that prepares them to succeed throughout their academic careers. Studies show students from lower socio-economic circumstances do better when they attend kindergarten. 

AB 1444 is CTA's only sponsored bill for 2014, and is scheduled for a hearing this Wednesday, June 18, in the Senate Education Committee. Please call your State Senator immediately at her/his office in your legislative district to vote for CTA-Sponsored AB 1444 and urge them to pass the bill that would require completion of kindergarten as a prerequisite to first-grade enrollment. 

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NEA President: We Won't Give Up

NEA President Dennis Van Roekel responds to the latest round of attacks on the teaching profession and our union:

"I have a message for those people who would seek to reduce children to a test score and teaching to a technological transaction. You are mistaken if you think we will see your attacks and get discouraged, that we will read the headlines and give up. You may put students in the name of your campaigns but that doesn’t mean you really care about the millions of children in our public schools. If you did truly care, you they would look at the more than half of public school children who live in poverty and wage your crusades against the inequity in our economy." 

Watch the video to hear his full statement:


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Local Budget Transparency and Cap on School District Reserves

The Governor has agreed to put language in a State Budget Trailer bill that would call for transparency and a cap on local school district budget reserves. Local Budget Transparency would begin with the 2015-16 fiscal year and the cap is triggered when the state begins to put money away in the Proposition 98 “Rainy Day” fund.

We support this because taxpayer dollars need to be spent in our classrooms and on our children not sitting in bank accounts. Parents and communities need to know how much money local school districts are holding back and not spending on our students. Asking for school district transparency on school district reserves is all about local control and accountability for parents and communities. 

Wednesday night the Budget Conference Committee voted to place this language in a trailer bill. However, management folks (CSBA, CASBO, ACSA and all other large districts’ management lobbyists) are protesting and very busy calling the Legislature and telling them that this is not fiscally prudent and that a cap on reserves would be a hardship to districts. We all know… that is not true.


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Vergara Verdict Flawed, Like Lawsuit Itself

Like the Vergara lawsuit itself, today’s ruling is deeply flawed. CTA, CFT and the state of California will appeal. We will appeal on behalf of students and educators. Circumventing the legislative process to strip teachers of their professional rights hurts our students and our schools. 

During the nearly two-month trial, numerous defense witnesses, including superintendents, principals, teachers, and nationally-recognized education policy experts testified that these laws work well and benefit students in well-run school districts all over the state. The plaintiffs put on administrators from poorly-managed school districts like Oakland, who attempted to blame the challenged statutes for their district’s problems, rather than poor management and an incredibly high teacher and administrator turnover rates.

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Former CTA Board Member Cynthia Peña Dies After Long Illness

Cynthia PenaCynthia Peña of Pacific Grove, an award-winning Salinas educator and former elected member of the CTA Board of Directors, died Sunday after a long and courageous battle with cancer. She died at a hospital in Burlingame, surrounded by family and friends. She was 56.

Her enthusiastic dedication to her students and to the thousands of coastal-area educators she represented on the CTA Board for 10 years, up to June of 2012, was an inspiration to many, said Dean E. Vogel, president of the 325,000-member California Teachers Association. “Cynthia will be remembered for her love of the teaching profession, her passion for union work, and her classroom commitment to her countless students over the years.”

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300 California Groups Back Common Core

Just as CTA members are reading their latest California Educator magazine all about the value and challenges of the Common Core State Standards, there is good news that more than 300 California business, nonprofit and children’s groups have signed a statement supporting the landmark new standards.

Circulated by the nonprofit children’s group Children Now, the full statement of signers represents an impressive array of community and business groups, including the California State PTA and various chambers of commerce, the San Diego NAACP, several urban school district superintendents, and various chapters of United Way. Read this EdSource story about the outpouring of support.

The statement says Common Core “will benefit students by having fewer, clearer, and deeper standards and require a greater use of analysis, critical thinking and real-world skills.” The petition also backs the Smarter Balanced assessments of the standards because the tests “are designed to help educators and parents know if students are progressing and understanding what they are supposed to be learning.”

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