Advocacy

Vergara Trial Nears End

Vergara Trial testimony wraps up this week with closing arguments scheduled for March 27. Lawyers (bankrolled by billionaire David Welch and other corporate “reformers”) representing nine student plaintiffs have charged that California statutes dealing with layoffs, dismissal, and granting permanent status after two years are all unconstitutional and inflict disproportionate harm on poor and minority students. The State of California and intervening parties CTA and CFT have responded that these statutes work well in school districts all over the state, that they help school districts attract and retain quality teachers, and in fact have nothing to say about which teachers are assigned to which schools or to which students.

While the legal arguments are firmly on our side, and hopefully the judge will agree, a quick look back at the testimony over the past two months should lead anyone with common sense—without requiring a law degree—to conclude that the plaintiffs in this case have no case. 

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Yuba City teachers have been without a contract for two years

Last week, just a month after a major demonstration, hundreds of Yuba City educators, parents and concerned community members attended a school board meeting to urge the district to reach a settlement that at least provides comparable salaries to teachers in nearby Marysville, who earn $10,000 more a year.

Another concern:  teachers – primarily female teachers – have been penalized for accessing their medical leave for pregnancies, nursing critically ill spouses, caring for elderly parents, and dealing with their own health crises. The district refused to advance these teachers on the salary schedule, resulting in them earning substantially less than their colleagues. The district, in the meantime, has ignored a decision by a neutral arbitrator in favor of the teachers, and is even attempting to “memorialize” this unjust practice in its current contract proposal.

Listen to Yuba City Teachers Association President Dina Luetgens express frustration that teachers have met 39 times in two years in bargaining sessions, to no avail.

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Hundreds attend Alpine School Board meeting to support teachers

Alpine TA board meetingExcept for the part when the school board unanimously approved the imposition that, if stands, could cut almost half of Alpine teachers’ compensation by more than 30 percent, last night’s board meeting, with almost 300 people in attendance, was a raucous, one-sided diatribe in support of Alpine Teachers Association members. 

Members, parents and community supporters verbally eviscerated Superintendent Tom Pellegrino and the school board, at times tearfully poignant, at other times stridently caustic. Teachers cited the inevitability of losing their homes, being unable to continue support for children in college and keeping insurance for critically ill and handicapped children. One part-time, job-share teacher with considerable experience and an advanced degree said she would be making only minimum wage should the imposition stand. Parents, who significantly recognized that what hurts teachers ultimately hurts their children, promised to honor a strike, with one even saying that they would permanently transfer their children to other surrounding districts should a job action occur.

San Diego Channel 10 news covered the event, and this clip that aired gives a snapshot of the almost three-hour board meeting.


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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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Cesar Chavez Elementary Making Great Strides with QEIA

QEIA Cesar Chavez ElementaryHigh-poverty Cesar Chavez Elementary in Alum Rock Union School District is worth watching for its strong academic gains after struggles in the past – progress that’s come with the help of proven reforms funded by the state’s Quality Education Investment Act (QEIA) of 2006, stakeholders said at a news conference today.

The noon event was one of several CTA events held as part of a national day of awareness about public school needs in America – and about solutions that are working. QEIA uses reforms like smaller class sizes and better training to target low-income students. New research is showing that QEIA – the largest turnaround program of its kind in the nation, currently helping some 400 at-risk California schools– is also offering ideas about reforms that all schools can use to change practices.

“QEIA funding has provided Cesar Chavez Elementary with resources needed to provide an optimal learning environment where students are challenged through the use of innovative technology and rigorous instruction,” said Rene Sanchez, the director of state and federal programs for the Alum Rock district and former principal of the school. “Structured collaboration and professional development opportunities for teachers, provided by the instructional coach, were essential in creating an environment where there was a clear focus in addressing learning gaps and accelerating student achievement. It truly has been a collaborative effort in maximizing our students’ potential through good teaching.”


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Raising Awareness: Reclaiming Public Education

A long journey begins with a single step. Educators, parents, and community members are taking part in local actions across the country to say collectively and clearly that our students deserve better than “market-driven” reforms. We’re saying “NO” to a corporate takeover of our education system and “YES” to community-driven, student-based decisions.

That’s why CTA, NEA, and the AFT are asking everyone to Raise Your Hand for Great Public Schools.

Our schools belong to all of us: the students who learn in them, the parents who support them, the educators and staff who work in them and the communities that they anchor. We cannot allow ourselves to be divided. Corporate-style reforms that disregard our voices, and attempt to impose a system of winners and losers must end. None of our children deserve to be collateral damage.

We have developed principles and are committed to working together to achieve the policies and practices that they represent. Read and sign on to the principles.

And you can join in by lending your voice, post or tweet. Please consider donating a Facebook post or tweet. Click on "read more" below for a few samples you could share with your friends. 


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CTA Honored with LAANE City of Justice Award

Dean Vogel and Kamala HarrisCTA is honored to have been recognized for our 150 years of advocacy on behalf of California’s educators and students by the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE) at its City of Justice Awards Gala last night. 

“It takes all of us working together to make change. The fight for good paying jobs, for economic justice, for a healthy environment and for quality public schools can only be won when we work together," said CTA President Dean Vogel, speaking to a crowd of about 1,000 political activists. Dean was introduced by State Attorney General Kamala Harris (photo right).

In its 20 years, LAANE has been a progressive voice in creating a more equitable and just society. Our common goals have served to raise awareness about the necessity of a quality education, good jobs, and healthy communities. We’re proud to stand with LAANE in its ongoing commitment to civil rights and economic justice.

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Raise Your Hand for American Education Week

It’s time to “Raise Your Hand for Student Success” by signing a pledge supporting quality education during American Education Week from Nov. 18-22. 

Traditionally celebrated the week before Thanksgiving, American Education Week was first launched in 1921 by both the National Education Association and the American Legion to generate public support for education. Distressed that 25% of the country’s World War I draftees had been illiterate, representatives from both organizations set out to do something about it. 

“Educators were there in 1921 advancing the cause of public education and we remain steadfast to this day,” said CTA President Dean E. Vogel. “We hope local communities will promote American Education Week by visiting their schools, honoring educators, and taking the pledge of support,” Vogel said. 

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Sweetwater EA Stands Up to 11th-hour Change in Health Benefits

Sweetwater Education Association members Sweetwater Education Association members in San Diego County face an eleventh hour change in the district contribution to health benefits that could cost them in excess of $3,000. Superintendent Ed Brand presented the new bargaining proposal on October 7, three weeks before open enrollment was set to begin, threatening to impose the change if SEA does not accept it. 

“The district is trying to unethically use benefits as a way to extract concessions during current contract negotiations,” said SEA President Roberto Rodriguez, adding that the move would hit SEA families hard.

Kicking into gear, SEA’s organizing team coordinated a “Trunk or Treat” rally in the district office parking lot before a school board meeting, with teachers bringing their children to collect treats from the trunks of SEA members’ cars. Pizza was provided for an estimated 600 attendees. “We wanted to demonstrate that SEA knows how to treat our families,” said Helen Farias, SEA organizing chair.

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Shadowy Koch Brothers network fined for money laundering to silence union voices

What goes around comes around. Last week the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) held a much anticipated press conference to share the news that the secret $11 million donation to the NO on Prop 30 / Yes on Prop 32 campaigns was in fact money laundering via the "Koch Brothers Network of dark money political nonprofit corporations".

"This case highlights the nationwide scourge of dark money non-profit networks hiding identities of their contributors,” said Ann Ravel outgoing FPPC Chair.

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

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