Advocacy

On the 60th Anniversary of Brown vs Board of Education: Still Separate, Still Unequal

60 years ago, the Brown vs. Board of Education decision resulted in revolutionary changes in our nation, but today many say that if eliminating school segregation and inequity was the primary goal of Brown, it has failed

Public schools in America are still largely segregated by race and income. This UCLA Civil Rights Project study warns that California schools are still segregated – and that the state’s schools are the most segregated in the nation when it comes to Latino students

California has had an extremely dramatic increase in the segregation of Latinos, who on average attended schools that were 54% white in 1970, but now attend schools that are 84% non-white.

Education is the gateway to opportunity and that’s why educators are commemorating the 60th anniversary by leading efforts across the nation to focus attention on the unfinished agenda of Brown v. Board—ensuring meaningful educational opportunity for all of America’s students.


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CTA Joins Movement to #BringBackOurGirls

Bring Back Our GirlsEarlier today, the CTA Board of Directors joined the worldwide #BringBackOurGirls movement and sent a letter to President Obama asking him to do everything in his power to rescue the more than 200 school girls who were kidnapped by terrorists in Nigeria and risk becoming victims of human trafficking.

According to news reports, the Nigerian government has been slow in its response since the militant group Boko Haram stormed a school and kidnapped the girls, who were there to take exams despite cultural pressures and threats from the militant group. Earlier this month a Boko Haram leader threatened to “sell” the girls.

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UTLA Science Teacher Victorious

Greg Schiller, the LAUSD science teacher who was removed from his school in February in a flap over science fair experiments, will be back at Cortines School of Visual & Performing Arts tomorrow. Schiller has been languishing in “teacher jail” since February, unable to help his students prepare for the AP exams or coach his fencing team.

The community, parents, and students came to Schiller’s defense, holding a series of protests demanding that the District allow him back into the classroom.

Schiller has been vocal in explaining that the two student experiments were in no way dangerous and he had not even seen them when an administrator pulled them from the science fair and sent Schiller to “teacher jail.” Many in the scientific community were in disbelief that the experiments that were built to convert one form of energy to another could be mistaken for “imitation weapons.”


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

© 1999- California Teachers Association