The Blog

CSU Students Protest "Student Success Fees"

As part of “Degrees not Debt” actions this week, students from several CSU campuses and community colleges rallied outside the CSU Board of Trustees in Long Beach Thursday to protest so-called “student success fees” being considered by the board and already in effect on 11 campuses. The fees, totaling nearly $800 per student, are viewed by many as tuition hikes.

Protesters had support from CSU faculty members as well as CTA Board members. The event was organized by NEA, the California Faculty Association (CFA) and Students for Quality Education (SQE).

Inside the trustee meeting, while a few students from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo spoke in favor of maintaining local control of the use of student fees and seemed to support what their campus was using them for, the majority of students criticized the fees as an unfair tuition hike that is putting a university education out of reach for many current and prospective students.

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Educators Urge Lawmakers to Support Bill to Protect Students and Due Process

(Photo above from r.) CTA educators Don Bridge, Deborah Adams, and Mary Jan Roberts learn during a Tuesday meeting with Sen. Correa’s chief of staff, Amy Jenkins, that the senator is not only supporting the CTA-backed measure, but he’s also agreed to sign onto the bill as a principal co-author.


A team of CTA members was in the state Capitol on Tuesday meeting with legislators and legislative staff in support of a measure backed by CTA and EdVoice that would protect students by streamlining the dismissal process for certificated employees who have been charged with egregious misconduct, including specific drug crimes, child abuse and sexual misconduct.

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Bay Area Educators Seek Legislative Support for Keeping Students Safe and Prepared

(Photo above) Center – Ann Katzburg, from San Ramon, and a team of educators discuss AB 215 with its author, Assembly Education Chair Buchanan during a Tuesday morning meeting. This team and other teams met with more than a dozen lawmakers with a focus on the two important CTA-backed bills.

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Students or Billionaires First? Investigative Reporters Provide Answer

 

(Photo above) Michelle Rhee attacks teachers unions during a January 2012 “listening tour” of Sacramento.

Michelle Rhee, the former chancellor of the Washington D.C. schools, calls her organization “StudentsFirst,” but a new white paper by investigative reporters at the Center for Public Integrity suggests “Billionaires First” might be a more appropriate name.

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Wealth Disparities Balloon: Working Poor, Our Students' Parents, Have Hard Time

(Graphic above: source – Economic Analysis and Research Network.)

A recent San Francisco Chronicle article highlights a new study by the Economic Analysis and Research Network  that finds the income disparity between the wealthy and everyone else in California has grown.

The state now stands 17th nationally in terms of income disparity, with the top 1 percent averaging $1.2 million annually, versus $46,000 for everyone else.

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Sacramento educators protest outside StudentsFirst Headquarters

Protesting Students FirstAs part of the national “Raise Your Hand for Our Schools” a group of hale and hearty Sacramento-area educators braved the chill Monday afternoon to leaflet outside the offices of StudentsFirst, the lobbying and education reform group founded by divisive public education critic Michelle Rhee. Teachers called attention to proven education reforms like smaller class sizes and investing more in schools and community partnerships. Rhee’s proposed, unproven policies would weaken teachers’ ability to advocate for students. And since Rhee and StudentsFirst are determined to silence educators, it comes as no surprise that Rhee’s staffers called in the police to investigate the peaceful demonstration. 

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Educators Urge State Board to Maintain Flexibility in Local Funding Regulations

(Photo above) Kendall Vaught, a 39-year teacher of English Language Learners and other students, stresses to the State Board of Education the importance of drafting regulations that maintain the flexibility and local decision-making that are the essence of the Local Control Funding Formula.

(Photo above) Nikki Milevsky, a school psychologist and president of the Sacramento City Teachers Association, discusses her testimony about the LCFF regulations with John Fensterwald, a Sacramento-based education reporter.

CTA President Dean Vogel, CTA Board Members, and more than 160 other educators, education support professionals, parents, and students addressed the State Board of Education Thursday in Sacramento. The testimony came as the education policy body heard from the public about its proposed regulations on the Local Control Funding Formula.

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Rhee's Road Show Offers Nothing New

Last night StudentsFirst founder and self-proclaimed education reformer Michelle Rhee held the first of a series of nationwide “teacher town halls” in Los Angeles, in what Rhee describes as an effort to move beyond “the extreme rhetoric and personal attacks overshadowing what’s important: getting every child into a great school with great teachers.” Ironic given the extreme rhetoric and blaming of “bad” teachers and principals Rhee uses as the cornerstone of her "reform" ideas.

Rhee’s co-panelists last night were Dr. Steve Perry, founder and principal of Capital Preparatory Magnet school, who uses what Rhee apparently considers un-extreme rhetoric when he refers to teachers unions as “roaches", and George Parker, the former Washington DC teachers union president who is now a paid Rhee staffer. As expected, last night’s event was very controlled. Audience questions were pre-screened on cards and Rhee and her co-panelists chewed up 90% of the speaking time. How is that a "town hall"?

The panel spent most of the evening talking about accountability and the need to get rid of bad teachers, and how unions were an obstacle to "real" reform. There was little if any discussion of supporting teachers or providing our public schools the resources they need.

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Capitol News: CTA Co-Sponsored Bill to Protect Students from Misconduct Approved by Senate Education Committee

Assembly Bill 449 by Assembly member Al Muratsuchi passed out of the Senate Education Committee Tuesday on a bipartisan consent vote. The bill strengthens current law requiring superintendents to fulfill their duty to report to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing any allegations of misconduct by certificated staff when warranted.

CTA's main concern is to keep students safe while safeguarding the professional rights of educators. On Monday, Alicia Williamson, Vice Chair of CTA's Credentials and Professional Development Committee, and fellow lobby team member Tim Sergent successfully lobbied nine members of the Senate Education Committee to vote in support of the CTA co-sponsored bill.

AB 449 now moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee where CTA will continue to seek support for passage of this important bill to remedy deficiencies in current law to ensure the welfare and safety of our school children.

 

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Senate Education Defeats Two Opposed Measures; Third Moves Over Educators’ Objections

At the urging of educators, the Senate Education Committee  on Wednesday again defeated two measures that would have respectively undermined effective teacher evaluations and undercut educators’ right to a fair hearing on misconduct allegations.  At the same time, despite educators’ objections, the panel approved an opposed measure that would privatize higher education online coursework.

All three bills were slated for “vote only” proceedings, but the author of one, Sen. Ron Calderon (D-Montebello), offered some amendments and testimony aimed at moving his CTA-opposed  SB 441.

Continued objections by representatives of Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, CTA and other employee organizations led Senators to defeat the measure.  That action came despite extraordinary efforts by StudentsFirst – the so-called “education reform” group started by disgraced former Washington D.C. Chancellor Michelle Rhee – which brought dozens of witnesses to the Capitol in hopes of swaying lawmakers.

The defeat of SB 441, a flagship bill for StudentsFirst, is widely viewed as a rebuff to the organization, which has been reported to rely heavily on anti-union groups for funding.  Recent news reports have uncovered the fact StudentsFirst has received millions of dollars from the Walton family, founders of the non-union WalMart superstore chain.

The panel also defeated SB 531, by Sen. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale).  That bill would have rolled back  due-process protections for certificated faculty and eliminated the May 15 deadline for layoff notifications related to reductions in force.  The bill would also have let school boards ignore the rulings of impartial panels reviewing their personnel actions.

The panel’s approval of SB 520, the CTA-opposed higher education measure by Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), sends the online privatization measure to the  Senate Appropriations Committee.

Educators will seek to defeat the bill there.

 

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