Articles posted by California Educator Behind the Scenes


Follow along and go behind the scenes as the lead writer for the California Educator magazine, Sherry Posnick-Goodwin, visits schools across the state to bring you feature stories.

Lawmakers Return to Capitol for Last Three Weeks of Session

The state Senate and Assembly came back into session on Monday, with only three weeks to finish up this year’s work.

Lawmakers have just until September 11 to act on pending legislation, including a package of CTA-sponsored bills designed to increase transparency and accountability at the state’s charter schools.

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Economist Reveals Why California's Taxes Aren't Fair and How to Fix Them

California’s infrastructure is deteriorating and funding for schools has dropped from 21st nationally to 46th because of an unfair tax system that allows wealthy corporations to escape paying their fair share, noted Economist Robert Reich reveals in a new video released by the Make It Fair California coalition.

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UC System Will Boost Minimum Wage of Its Employees

In a major victory for working women and men, the University of California has agreed to raise the minimum wage of its employees to $15 an hour over a three-year period.

The action, reported in the Sacramento Bee, is an important step to help ensure dedicated higher education employees can afford the basics of life.

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Teacher's mistreatment leaves reporter more committed than ever to unionism

I’ve had some mean bosses. Back in the days when I worked in newspapers there were a few. It was a world of deadlines, working in a pressure-cooker environment where everyone competed for space and stories and bylines at the top of the page.  I started at 6 a.m. and the only other person in my department who started that early was my boss. She was so mean that when she walked in, I usually engaged in imaginary phone conversations as she passed by to avoid having to talk to her.

But schools are supposed to be different. Schools are about nurturing, caring and a collaborative environment where staff pulls together for the common good of the students.

Right? Well sometimes.

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How do we do a Point/Counterpoint?

I was asked this question recently by the editor of the NEA affiliate in New York, and probably gave her more information than she expected. After all, it’s such a little column. It looks so easy. But looks are deceptive. Every month, we wonder if we’ll be able to pull it off, and my editor worries about having an empty page right before we go to press.

Part of the challenge: It’s extremely difficult to find people who are willing to spill their guts on controversial issues in a public forum read by 325,000 of their closest friends – along with administrators and parents lucky enough to land a copy of the California Educator. It’s a very brave undertaking to speak out publicly about whether schools should hand out condoms, cursive should be eliminated entirely from the classroom, football should be banned or test scores should be tied to evaluations.

But don’t let that stop you.

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Handling Stress, Year After Year

It was a while ago. I was working on a story on class size reduction. A chapter president had recommended I visit a teacher he knew with a crowded classroom. I arranged to visit with a photographer and asked the teacher to notify his principal, which is standard procedure. The principal in the Sacramento school came out to greet me as I was signing in and asked us to step into his office. I figured he was going to offer some background about the school and additional information.

Was I in for a surprise!

How dare I interfere with instructional minutes, he scolded me. I’d better be quick, he let me know, adding that he resented the intrusion. I explained that our purpose was to increase awareness so the state would provide more money for class-size reduction, and he called me a liar.

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The pain of interviewing

Have you ever worried about being deported?” I ask Eduardo.

He starts to cry. I freeze. Oh no, not again; I so do not want this to happen. Tears run freely down his face. I grab my pen to take notes and capture his pain as Scott clicks away on his camera. They say the media are vultures, and I like to think we’re not. But it is part of the story.

Yes I worry, says Eduardo, who is meeting for me in his counselor’s office for an interview about DREAMers, or undocumented students for an article in the April issue of the California Educator, as he recalls the traumatic day ICE took away his favorite aunt and deported her to Mexico, leaving behind three young children.

It is a fair question I have asked him, and it goes to the root of the issues faced by students lacking Social Security numbers. But I feel horrible. He is only 17. I feel especially horrible because Eduardo has an interview with a local university for a full scholarship right after our interview – and he is shaken. I do not want to be the reason he’s not accepted.

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A visit to remember

It starts like any other school visit. I pull up to the school with Scott, the Educator photographer. We are running late. We are frantically looking for visitor parking. We are trying to remember what we need to capture in words and pictures to make the story come alive during our visit to California High School in San Ramon. I check the mirror to make sure there is no food in my teeth from the cereal I’ve been eating during our commute.

And then we hear the loudspeaker. It is so loud we hear it perfectly inside our car.

“Students,” booms the voice. “We regret to tell you that four students from California High School students were killed in an automobile accident last night. Later in the day we will hold an assembly and counselors will be on hand for you to talk with.”

I start to shake. It sounds familiar; I think maybe I have heard something about this on the evening news.

“We can’t go in,” I tell Scott, who nods in agreement. “We need to cancel this visit.”

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OMG I've Been Shot

I looked down at my right arm as blood oozed through my gray sweater. My arm was stinging and tears sprang to my eyes. This wasn’t supposed to happen to me. Other people, I figured, would be the targets. Why me?

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Meet the man behind the photos

Scott BuschmanYou may have seen him at a CTA conference. He’s the tall, skinny guy with colorful ties and a camera who says “just one more, just one more” and then takes LOTS more photos. His name is Scott Buschman and he has been taking photos for the California Educator since 1996, when CTA traded a tabloid newsletter for a real magazine.


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

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