The Blog

Capitol News: State Council - Elected Representatives to Deliberate on Legislative Measures

CTA's policymaking body, the State Council of Education, has a lot of work to do when it convenes Friday in Los Angeles. More than 800 representatives, elected by CTA members at the local level, will review more than 100 bills pending in the Assembly or Senate, along width other assignments.

Council members thoroughly analyze the bills before they take a final vote on whether to  support, watch, or oppose measures on issues ranging from education to public retirement systems to human rights.

Typically, CTA legislative advocates identify legislation impacting students, public education, teachers and education support professionals.  Those bills move to specific subject matter Committees of State Council. Those committees, which are composed of members width expertise in an area such as finance or school safety, look at the bills closely. The committees make recommendations that go to the CTA State Legislation Committee. This is the last stop for the measures before heading for consideration by all 800 voting representatives.  The State Legislation Committee reviews the recommendations for several things including their consistency width CTA policy positions.

Ultimately, the recommendations on the measures go before the entire State Council, where voting members have the opportunity to discuss and debate them.  Only then do Council members vote on the positions, establishing the association's official position on the bills.

Among the bills Council committees will be looking at are measures that would streamline the dismissal process, protect the state's crucial class size reduction program, and change the process of funding local schools.

Information about CTA's positions on legislation can be found at CTA Bill Positions on the CTA website.

The site's Progress Report on Legislative Action also provides real-time information about how lawmakers are voting on CTA position bills.

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Capitol News: State Teachers' Pension System Releases Report on Making Ends Meet

The California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS) Board has just released its report about how the multi-billion dollar pension system can continue funding its defined benefit plan.

The report, which the legislature requested by passing SCA 105 (2012), has been posted on the retirement system's web page as the CalSTRS Final Draft, SCR 105 Report.

You can also read more about retirement at Retirement section.

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Three CTA Members Earn California Teacher of the Year Honors: One Will Represent State in National Competition

At a gala in Sacramento on Monday night, Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson honored the state’s teachers for their achievement, singling out the state’s 2013 teachers of the year for special note.

Three of the awardees are CTA members, including the state nominee for National Teacher of the Year.

The superintendent cited the educators for having “shown the kind of skill, passion, and dedication that exemplify the very best of the most important, most demanding, and most rewarding profession there is – teaching.”  The three are:

Sebastien Paul De Clerck  is a 9-12th grade French and Italian teacher at Ventura High School. The state schools chief cited him for “not just closing the achievement gap — but demolishing it.” He is a member of the Ventura Unified Education Association.

Veronica Marquez teaches fifth-grade at Harmony Elementary School in Los Angeles. A member of  United Teachers Los Angeles and a National Board Certified member, Ms. Marguez has worked width gifted students, sheltered English immersion, and bilingual education programs. She has extensive experience providing staff development, mentorships, and training for other teachers. "She sees herself as a gardener who watches her students bloom under her leadership, and sees her students as scholars worthy of better lives,” declared Supt. Torlakson.

I’Asha Warfield teaches seventh-grade English at Frick Middle School in Oakland. She serves as a coach in the Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment (BTSA) program to help new teachers. She also consults width to the Bay Area Writing Project, a professional development program helping educators teach writing skills even more effectively. Supt. Torlakson describes this Oakland Education Association member as being “at the top of her game” in helping students master lessons. She will represent California in the National Teacher of the Year  competition this year.

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Capitol News: Most Pension System Changes Affect New Hires

The effective date of laws "reforming" the state's public pension systems – CalSTRS and the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) -- is January 1, 2013.  These changes generally impact new employees, although some of the revisions will also affect employees hired on or before December 31, 2012.

Please visit the CTA website, which provides more information on retirement legislation.

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Teachers Seek to Kill Bill That Would Divert Attention from District's Failure to Protect Students

Teachers are hard at work to persuade legislators to kill educator-opposed SB 1530 (Padilla), which has cleared the California Senate and is scheduled for a hearing before the Assembly Education Committee on Wednesday, June 27.

The bill would divert lawmakers’ and the public’s attention from the cascading failures of a school district’s management to use current law to protect children from an employee charged width improper conduct.

SB 1530 ignores the failures of the superintendent and officials of the Los Angeles Unified School District to report alleged misconduct to the state licensing agency, the Commission on Teacher Credentialing.  That credentialing body has the power to revoke an educator’s credential, preventing that employee from working in any public school in the state.

Instead, SB 1530 adopts the district’s justifications for its failures – justifications that include unsubstantiated assertions that current law prevented the reporting.  In point of fact, current law requires the district to make the reports and holds the superintendent personally liable for failing to comply.

The issue reflects allegations against two teachers at Miramonte Elementary in Los Angeles.  The district failed to report the charges in a timely manner, allowing the individuals to gain employment in another school district.

SB 1530 would make radical changes to current law and undermine an accused’s right to a fair hearing.  It does nothing to add new penalties for administrators or districts that fail to comply width reporting laws.

For more information about the bill, view the  letter embedded  below. For more information and ways to get in touch width your lawmakers, go to Contact Your Legislator.




Assembly Education Committee Members:



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Think Politics is Ugly Now? Imagine a World Where Wealthy Special Interests Have “Immunity”

Two newly filed articles– one in the Sacramento Bee (Dan Morain: Corporations misfire against Wall Street 'tycoon') and the other in the Bay Citizen (Beverage lobbyist funds 'community' campaign against soda tax)  – detail how wealthy corporate special interests are able to use their political contributions to protect their financial interests.

Now imagine a world in which they have even more clout – and where working women and men and the organizations that represent them have less.

Holy “Super-Pac”!  Welcome to the world of the Special Exemptions Act. That teacher- opposed measure on the November ballot would restrict how organizations representing middle class working people can collect funds for political purposes, including electing lawmakers who believe schools are woefully underfunded.

Should that ballot measure pass – over the objections of educators, firefighters, police officers, and good government groups – it would further tilt the political playing field in favor of these wealthy special interests.

More information about the Special Exemptions Act can be found at Behind the Special Exemptions Act.

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Now Contact State Assembly to Kill Bad Padilla Teacher Dismissal Bill

Action Alert - Updated 29 May

Over the objections of 325,000 educators, the Senate on Tuesday passed SB 1530 (Padilla), the opposed measure that would implement unfair teacher dismissal procedures.

Educators from around the state have begun contacting their Assembly Members in opposition to the bill. They are delivering a message to these elected officials that is a short and clear one: vote against SB 1530 in the Assembly.


The Senate Appropriations Committee voted last week 5 -2 to move SB 1530 (Padilla) to consideration by the full Senate.

Earlier that week, over 200 CTA member lobbyists walked the Capitol halls and pressed their two-point message about this teacher discipline bill.  They urged lawmakers to amend the measure or kill it.  Those teacher voices were heard – especially among the legislators who voted against the measure on Thursday.

Senator Curren Price and Senator Ted Lieu voted against SB 1530 because they understood that CTA’s goal is to improve the bill, widthout sacrificing critical protections for educators. The other committee members who voted for the bill, including the committee chair, Senator Chris Kehoe and the Senate President Pro Tem, Senator Darrell Steinberg, believe the continuing conversation will result in a bill CTA can support.

CTA will continue its opposition until the bill is amended so that teacher dismissals are fair. SB 1530 will be heard on the Senate floor during the week of May 28.

All CTA members are being encouraged to call their Senator and ask for a no vote.

Filed May 25 by Len Feldman. Updated May 30 by Len Feldman

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Alcosta Educators Urge Lawmakers to Fund Schools, Retrain, Protect Teachers

Mt. Diablo Education Association President Mike Langley shares information width Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, the area's senator, during a meeting between the team of educators from the Alcosta Service Center Council  and their lawmaker. (Photo by Len Feldman)

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CTA Co-sponsored Bill Would Help Laid-Off Teachers Retrain to Teach in Hard-to-Staff Math, Science, and Special Education Classes

Breaking News Update:

The Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee approved CTA co-sponsored SB 1291 during its hearing earlier today.  The measure now moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee for its next hearing. The bill gained votes from only Democratic members of the labor panel.

CTA is co-sponsoring legislation that will help California secure the teachers it needs to fill hard-to-staff positions in math, science, and special education classes while helping laid-off educators secure the training they need to gain certification in these areas.

 CTA co-sponsored SB1291, by Sen. Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa), is slated for a hearing in the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee next Wednesday, April 25th.

Faxes and e-mails sent to the committee chair can help assure the measure’s passage.

Below is a sample letter that  contains key points on the bill. CTA members can also click through to CTA’s Legislative Action Center to facilitate sending e-mails to legislators at

Faxes can be sent to Sen. Ted Lieu directly via 916.327.5703.

Key Points:

SB 1291 (Evans) allows unemployed teachers to be eligible for unemployment insurance while taking certification training needed to teach vacancies in hard to staff assignments such as math, science and special education.

This year, California’s dire budget deficit led to more than 30,000 preliminary pink slips issued by the March 15 state deadline, and it’s feared that fewer pink slips will be rescinded this year due to the severity of the budget crisis.  At the same time, my community is faced width the need to improve our pipeline to recruit and retain teachers.

Other important information includes number of pink slips, number of anticipated rehires, and/or a personal story about the situation in a CTA chapter’s area.

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Senator Padilla's Opposed Dismissal Bill Takes Away Rights, Does Nothing to Protect Children

The Los Angeles Unified School District failed to protect students at Miramonte Elementary school. Instead of using their powers immediately to remove and fire a teacher who breaks the law, LAUSD is deflecting responsibility and supporting changes to the teacher dismissal law for all educators.

Senator Padilla has introduced SB 1530 to make changes in teacher dismissal law. Senator Padilla should instead be calling for an investigation of why management failed to use its powers that current law provides.

Senator Alex Padilla has told the LA Times that he wants to work width CTA to make SB 1530, his CTA-opposed teacher dismissal bill, into something more useful. But he's also told a Sacramento reporter that he thinks school boards should have the right to get rid of a teacher as soon as district officials come to believe that a teacher has committed a firing offense.

While this may not sound like such a bad idea to most people, there's more to it. This bill would eliminate constitutional due process rights for teachers and enable local school districts to fire a teacher regardless of the facts.

Let's take a closer look at what SB 1530 would do:
  • Take away educators' rights to a hearing.
  • Eliminate educators' opportunity to respond to charges.
  • Allow districts to summarily dismiss educators for almost any type of misconduct, whether it be minor offenses (such as smoking cigarettes in a personal car on school grounds or wearing open toed shoes in a shop class) or major offenses.
  • It treats all misconduct the same way.
  • Raise district costs by providing an automatic appeal to superior court. Current law avoids that cost. These changes would raise district costs needlessly at a time classrooms desperately need more money.
CTA staff met width Sen. Padilla's office on Monday and secured some revisions – but not enough – to the measure.

The amended measure secured the approval of the Senate Education Committee Wednesday morning and is headed to the Senate Appropriations Committee for its next hearing.

Contacts to State Senators that ask that lawmaker to contact Senator Padilla and urge him to change his bill into a measure that CTA can support can make a difference. It's important that the Senator know the bill is both unfair and detrimental to the best interests of educators and students.

Your Senator can be reached by phone or fax at the her/his Capitol office.

CTA's Legislative Action Center can provide more information about the bills and how to contact other lawmakers: Contact Your Lawmaker!

The most recent CTA advocate letter on the bill is below.  Click on the image to read a full-size version.


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