Legislature’s Now Out for Summer – But Educators Get Set for Intensive Work

The state Senate officially began its summer recess today, about a week after its Assembly colleagues began theirs. Now both houses are “closed” until August.

In the meantime, some schools around the state – those on year-round-schedules — are already in session. (BTW – According to Education Bug, California leads “the nation width 1,322 year round public schools, width second-place falling to Hawaii width 296. Third came Arizona width 175. Nevada width 107 and Texas width 101 were fourth and fifth, and Georgia, width 97 was sixth.”)

Several hundred educators are also getting ready for some intense training this summer at a series of events being held by the California Teachers Association.

From July 22-25 in San Jose, hundreds of CTA chapter leaders will take part in the Presidents Conference, a four-day training program geared toward local chapter leaders. New presidents arrive on Monday to engage in core sessions especially tailored to assist them in learning their new role as local leaders. Also beginning on Monday, presidents of local chapters in the Community College Association will attend sessions designed to address issues unique to California’s community colleges.

Beginning on August 4th on the campus of UCLA, the CTA Summer Institute, the premiere workshop of its kind, will offer sessions in areas that assist chapter leaders in the day-to-day representation and support of members. Sessions include Communications, Instruction and Professional Development, Emerging Leaders, Bargaining, School Finance, Healthcare Benefits and Issues, Legal, Member Benefits and Community Outreach.


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CalPERS Holds Up Plan to Web-Post Information About Retirees' Pensions

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) has temporarily halted its plans to post searchable web-based information about its retirees and their pension amounts.

The hiatus came as a result of an outpouring of opposition to the plan from retirees and organizations representing them, according to a July 11 article in The Sacramento Bee, CalPERS Holds Off Launching.

Advocates for retirees and public employees argued forcefully that the planned web posting would put retirees at risk of having their identities stolen and make them vulnerable to other financial scams.

Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) is quoted as saying the delay is a good thing as it will provide time for the system to review what information should be posted and what – including Social Security numbers and other personal information – should be excluded and protected.

Advocacy groups have reportedly been considering legislation to narrow the agency’s authorization to post information about its members that could be perused by the public.

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Governor Brown Tapped as “America’s Greatest Education Governor"

California Teachers Accept Award on Governor’s Behalf; He Addresses 9,000 Educators via Video

(Photo above) Governor of California Jerry Brown speaks via a live video feed during the presentation of America’s Greatest Education Governor. NEA Today/Rick Runion

The National Education Association at its annual Representative Assembly in early July named California Governor Jerry Brown its “Education Governor of the Year.”

The 325,000-member California Teachers Association nominated Brown for the prestigious annual award for his ongoing commitment to public schools. He led the fight for his Proposition 30 last year to stop billions in education cuts and generate $47 billion over the next seven years for schools, colleges and other essential services. He also last week signed into law his historic overhaul of public school funding that provides more money to help at-risk English learners and low-income students succeed.

Leaders of CTA – Davis Counselor Dean Vogel, Pittsburg Elementary Educator Eric Heins, and San Bernardino Youth Services Teacher Mikki Cichocki-Semo – accepted the award on the governor’s behalf.

Later, the governor addressed the Representative Assembly via video feed, thanking California’s teachers for their courage and support that helped quality and pass Proposition 30, the revenue measure that stopped another $5 billion in cuts and began the turn-around of the state’s finances.

The governor recalled his signing the state’s collective bargaining law more than 38 years ago and the continued need to provide local participation and leadership from teachers who are closest to the students. He advocates giving those in the classrooms and local school districts “maximum authority.”

“Teaching is lighting a fire, and the job of politicians is to enable teachers to light that fire….not to regiment students like they’re on parole,” Brown said. He also downplayed the role of testing in education, noting that “you don’t [get students to] learn by hammering people. You [get them to] learn by inspiring them.”


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NEA RA Delegates Kick Off 2013 Business Meeting

As the 2013 NEA Representative Assembly kicked off today, nearly 10,000 attendees from all over the U.S.—of which more than 1,000 are from California—tackled important business after an energetic welcome to the four-day Atlanta, Georgia conference.

During NEA President Dennis Van Roekel’s keynote speech, the association launched its Raise Your Hand Campaign urging delegates to take on leadership roles, fight for social justice and work together to create positive change for students.

New Business Items were also a focal point of the agenda.

CTA President Dean Vogel speaks to the Representative Assembly

CTA President Dean Vogel speaks to the Representative Assembly

CTA President Dean Vogel spoke on behalf of the delegation in support of New Business Item 3, which CTA had submitted. With this NBI, the “NEA calls for a moratorium on using the outcome of the tests associated width the Common Core standards, except to inform instruction, until states and districts have worked width educators to create authentic, locally-developed curriculum, assessments and professional development related to the Common Core.”

“Everybody’s tired of this testing nonsense and people are waiting for a voice to tell them the truth… and that voice is the National Education Association’s and the time is NOW,” said Vogel to a cheering crowd of delegates supporting the NBI. The Rep Assembly adopted NBI 3.

The business continues tomorrow at 10 a.m. on the 4th of July holiday. The CTA caucus will convene at 7:00 a.m. Look for an update on tomorrow’s business and stay connected to our Facebook page to view pictures and posts directly from delegates on the floor. You can also follow the event on Twitter by using the hashtag #NEARA13.

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Capitol News: Experts Debunk New "Study" Slamming Teacher Preparation Programs

Educators are criticizing a newly released, corporate-funded study that labels teacher preparation programs in the United States – and especially those in California – as failing.

The Teacher Prep Review released by the National Council on Teacher Quality claims the study is an unprecedented evaluation of more than 1,100 colleges and universities that prepare elementary and secondary teachers.

Critics of the report, including Stanford University Professor Linda Darling-Hammond, a nationally recognized education expert, have noted that the “comprehensive” report is “nonsense,” nothing but a paper review of course descriptions and has nothing to do width the quality of the programs.

Theresa Montaño, a California State University professor, makes the case that the report hits California’s teacher preparation programs for the very thing that helps build a strong teaching force: educating a diverse workforce and sensitizing them to the challenges of today’s multi-ethnic classroom.

Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson told L.A Times reporter Howard Blume that “It’s disappointing that this report applied a one-size-fits-all checklist. Those who are serious about examining the quality of teacher preparation efforts will have to look elsewhere for more reliable and useful information.”

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Capitol News: High Court Rulings on Same-Sex Marriage A Teachable Moment About Equality for All

CTA joins Californians in celebrating the monumental decisions made by the U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Windsor, which struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as unconstitutional, and Hollingsworth v. Perry, which let stand a lower court ruling that struck down California’s Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage.
“The U.S. Supreme Court decisions can go down as a major teachable moment of the past 50 years. CTA believes all people should be allowed equal protection under the law and that the legal rights and responsibilities of marriage and civil unions belong to all adults regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, religion or socio-economic status,” said CTA President Dean E. Vogel. “We celebrate the decisions handed down today. I am moved because our gay brothers and sisters who have taught alongside us are now recognized by our government as equals. In order for us to move forward as a united nation, we must continue to engage in the fight for social justice, protect civil rights and ensure equality for all.”

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Capitol News: Broad-based Coalition Comes Together to Lobby Against Higher Ed Privatization Bill

More than 30 CTA members from community colleges, CSU, UC and students came together to urge lawmakers to vote against CTA-opposed SB 520. This bill, a measure by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), would divert education dollars to private contractors to provide online lower-division courses, instead of college faculty.

Bill opponents wanted to lobby members of the Assembly before they left for summer break because the bill may be heard in the Assembly as soon as lawmakers return.

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Raise Your Hand for Public Education

Linda Darling-Hammond and Jonathan Knapp answer questions during the Raise Your Hand kick-off event.

“The power of your expertise is important. We’re going to tap into the passion, creativity, and power of everyone who spends their lives in the nation’s classrooms,” NEA President Dennis Van Roekel announced at the kick-off event for NEA’s new “Raise Your Hand for Public Education” Campaign on Tuesday. Van Roekel then handed the microphone over to a host of dynamic and respected educators—from the classroom and from the research community—who engaged a standing-room only crowd in a day of professional rejuvenation and educator empowerment, part of NEA’s Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly being held in Atlanta this week.

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Capitol News: Political Pranks

The Legislature is embarking on an unprecedented move which is turning into the conflict of the calendars. While the Assembly is finishing up their business width meetings next week, they will adjourn at the close of business on July 3. The Senate has decided not to recess until the close of business on July 12. Not only is the Senate staying open longer but they are determined to have a multitude of committee hearings on Assembly bills, forcing numerous Assembly Members to stay in the triple digit heat of Sacramento. However, this also means that the Assembly will return one week earlier than the Senate and can do the same to their colleagues in the other house.
It is typical for both houses of the Legislature to begin political posturing and fighting amongst each other during the final few weeks of session in August, but they have decided to turn up the heat early this year.
Capitol News will also be on recess and will resume publication in August. For more information, view the legislative calendar.

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Capitol News: Alternative Suspension Bill Moves out of Senate Education Committee

CTA continues to monitor the progress of a bill that would change some suspension policies in an effort to keep students in school, but also ensure the safety of students and educators in the classroom. AB 420 (Dickinson) focuses on the disproportionate suspension and expulsion of African American and Latino students as a result of the overuse of “willful defiance” that can be interpreted differently from educator to educator. CTA has a WATCH position on the bill that was approved by the Senate Education Committee and now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

What the bill does:

  • Prohibits student suspension from school for substantially disrupting school activities or substantially preventing instruction from occurring in grades K-5. Students in grades 6-12 can only be suspended from school on or after the third offense in a school year, and only if the pupil’s parent or guardian have been informed that other means of correction were attempted before the recommended suspension.
  • Prohibits student expulsion from school at all grade levels for substantially disrupting school activities or substantially preventing instruction from occurring.

One issue of great concern to educators is to ensure that a teacher continues to have the ability to control their classroom. CTA drafted the following amendment now in the bill: “A teacher may suspend a pupil in any grade level from class, including for a first offense and from a one-room schoolhouse, for disrupting school activities or otherwise willfully defying the valid authority of supervisors, teachers, administrators, school officials, or other school personnel engaged in the performance of their duties.”

AB 420 continues to allow (makes no changes to) student suspension and expulsion of students for a variety of other reasons, which include threats, violence, robbery, extortion, damaging school or private property, committing an obscene act, habitual profanity or vulgarity, harassment, threats, bullying, etc. Some alternatives to suspension and expulsion identified in the bill include a conference width parents and student, study teams, restorative justice programs, referrals to the school counselor, psychologist, social worker, etc.

CTA’s lobbyist testified that while educators believe in equity, and that suspension and expulsion should be a last resort, CTA remains concerned width tying the hands of school staff at any grade level. This bill and policy related to this bill was the subject of a lengthy debate on the floor of the June 2013 State Council of Education. Some educators were concerned that administrators have previously disregarded the current law that allows teachers to suspend from the classroom by immediately sending the student back to class, because there were no established alternative programs at the school site. Additionally, there are no funds in the bill for resources to implement training and/or alternative suspension programs, but school districts and local bargaining teams could use the flexibility in the local control funding formula to establish district programs. CTA is working width the sponsors of the bill and the author on these and other areas of concern.

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

© 1999- California Teachers Association