Articles posted by Dean Vogel

Approved State Budget prevents additional layoffs

It’s not the state budget that we all hoped for and it is far from what our students need and deserve, but our hard work and organizing did make a difference as the Governor signed a budget that closed the state’s multi-billion dollar deficit while maintaining current funding for local school districts and preventing summer layoffs.

As part of the budget package, lawmakers approved AB 114, which for this year prevents school districts from issuing additional layoffs in August and essentially waives three-year reserve requirements. The law repeatedly states that each school district shall project the same level of revenue as it received in 2010-11 and shall maintain staffing and programs commensurate width that level. Some school district officials are crying foul, but let me be clear this law is designed to ensure stability for students and schools, avoid midyear cuts and prevent districts from gaming the system.

Funding public education and other essential services shouldn’t be partisan issues, but every Republican refused to extend the temporary taxes or even let votersd decide for themselves. I do want to thank the Governor and Democratic leaders for engaging in the work they were elected to do. The state’s existing tax structure benefits the wealthy and big corporations at the expense of the middle class. It’s also helped build the state’s structural budget deficit that Republicans are now using to starve public programs. For example, California is now funding public schools at $7,900 per student compared to New York at $15,000 per student. CTA is working width other labor unions and community groups to restore fairness and bring some common sense changes to the state’s tax system.

The approved budget also protects the integrity of the state minimum school funding law by requiring that any funding shortfalls must be restored and it fully funds CTA’s Quality Education Investment Act, which provides additional resources to lower-performing schools. Sadly, the budget makes more dramatic cuts to our colleges and universities. The CSU and UC systems each lost $650 million, sparking more tuition increases for students. CSU tuition has doubled in the last five years. Read more budget details on the CTA website

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California leaves its mark on the NEA RA

With nearly 1,200 delegates, CTA was the largest delegation at the NEA Representative Assembly earlier this month in Chicago. It was a lively convention width passionate debate from educators across the country. Delegates re-elected NEA President Dennis Van Roekel and approved the early endorsement of Barak Obama for U.S. President. While we certainly don’t agree width all of his education policies, this endorsement was about fighting for the future of our country, the middle class and our rights as union members. It was the right decision for NEA and the California delegation supported the recommendation. Vice President Joe Biden laid out what’s at stake in a commanding speech to delegates.

Expressing our concerns about Obama’s education policies, CTA led efforts to pass New Business Item C which directs NEA to communicate aggressively, forcefully, and immediately that we are appalled width many of the so-called school reforms from Education Secretary Arne Duncan. This includes his policies of using test scores to measure student and teacher achievement, focusing on unproven and limited solutions for improving schools and failing to correct the problems of No Child Left Behind.

NEA delegates adopted a new policy statement on Teacher Evaluation and Accountability. The new policy focuses on enhancing the practice of teaching, instead of identifying teachers for dismissal. CTA led efforts to ensure that any test not designed to measure both student learning and a teacher’s performance cannot be used to take employment actions against a teacher.

Delegates also united against the unprecedented attacks on educators and America’s working class by approving a $10 dues increase to support NEA’s Crisis Fund. The money is designed to help states width pro-public education outreach. In California, we are facing attacks on our secure retirement and a new “Paycheck Deception” initiative. This initiative, which would restrict how union members spend their own dues money and participate in elections, is now in circulation by well-financed, anti-union forces. Do not sign these petitions and spread the word to your colleagues, family and friends.

And finally, there was more than good policy debate in the air. Join me in a special congratulations to CTA members José Alcalá and Ashley Bettas who made their wedding engagement official on the RA floor.

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

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