The Blog

Guest Blogger: Gretel Liana Rodriguez describes her experiences as a novice NEA RA attendee

Gretel Liane Rodriguez This is my third NEA Representative Assembly, and I am as excited to be here as if it were my first! My first RA was in Washington, D.C., and I think that is the best place to attend the RA for the first time. I traveled all alone and didn’t know anyone that year. I have seven friends traveling with me this year, and I am rooming with two of them. I had to beg to find a roommate my first year. Luckily, a veteran took me under her wing. 

There is one true fact about the RA: Everyone is so friendly and kind to “newbies.” You feel loved and cared for – so Shout Out if you are new so that others can help you.

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Harris V Quinn Decision Silences Workers' Voices

This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in Harris v. Quinn along the narrow scope of the original case. In the 5-4 decision, the high court ruled that eight Illinois home health-care workers cannot be required to contribute union bargaining fees.

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote for the majority: "Because of Abood's questionable foundations ... we refuse to extend Abood to the new situation now before us," Alito wrote. "If we allowed Abood to be extended to those who are not full-fledged public employees, it would be hard to see just where to draw the line, and we therefore confine Abood's reach to full-fledged state employees."

While NEA and CTA narrowly escaped the loss of fair share fees, other cases are in the pipeline to strip unions of rights set forth in Abood. There are corporate forces behind efforts across the country taking aim at the rights and power of middle class families. While they have money, we have the spirit and the numbers. We will not give up fighting for the rights of our members, their families, and our middle class brothers and sisters, and for a fair economy that works for all of us.

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Pension legislation signed

Educators may notice a little extra going out of their paychecks into to the California State Retirement System (CalSTRS) beginning this month, but that’s a good thing since the money will not only come back to them at retirement, it will stabilize the retirement system into the future.

After years of attempts to close a shortfall in the teachers retirement system that has mounted to $74 billion, the Legislature in June approved Gov. Jerry Brown’s pension plan that provides increased contributions from educators, school districts and the state.

“For roughly the last 10 years our highest priority and our members’ most pressing concern has been to secure the long-term stability of the Defined Benefit Program,” said Harry Keiley, chair of the Teachers’ Retirement Board and member of the Santa Monica-Malibu Classroom Teachers Association.

The historic action calls for member contributions to increase from 8 to 10.25 percent over the next three years. School and community college district contributions will increase from 8.25 percent to 19.1 percent over seven years while the state’s portion would increase from the current 3.041 percent to 6.3 percent in the next three years. The increases began to take effect July 1.

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First Local Control Funding Formula Calculations Released Today

Local educational agencies (LEAs) now have access to the first official calculations of how the $42 billion in school funding under the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) will be distributed.

“California’s new funding formula puts more decisions about education funding where they belong—in the hands of schools, parents, and teachers—and dedicates more resources to students most in need,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. “The information we are providing today will help administrators, teachers, and parents as they work together to help all students succeed.” 

The calculations for school districts and charter schools are displayed in the traditional funding exhibits. In addition, LEAs now can review a "LCFF Funding Snapshot", a step toward transparency and accountability, providing a concise two-page summary of the main components of the LCFF transitional funding and information on each LEA’s attendance, LCFF entitlements, and funding sources. The data are also translated graphically.

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

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