Human Rights

Senate Education Set to Hear CTA-opposed Teacher Dismissal Bill on March 20

California educators will be meeting width lawmakers before a March 20 hearing in the Senate Education Committee on CTA-opposed SB 10 by Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Los Angeles). A special educator lobby day is scheduled for March 19. CTA supports efforts to streamline the dismissal process and is working width the Assembly Education Committee on proposals that protect  students and educators. Despite the rhetoric, SB 10 does nothing to make students any safer than they are under the current law.

SB 10 actually delays the process of determining the truth or falsity of accusations leveled against employees and undermines employees' right to a fair and speedy hearing.  For more information about SB 10, go the CTA Legislative Action Center.

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Capitol News: Governor's Office Releases New Details about Local Control Funding Formula - Major Changes Proposed

After much anticipation we now know more about the governor's proposed Local Control Funding Formula. As he told Californians in his state of the state address, he is seeking to localize decision-making. "...Decisions should be made at the lowest possible level of a government or an organization rather than at a high level." In particular, Gov. Brown is giving the classroom experts – teachers, certificated personnel, and education support professionals - more power to decide what is best for students.

The proposal phases in more money to schools width students who require more funding to educate. Students identified as higher needs, thus higher costs, are students who qualify for Free and Reduced Lunch, English-language learners, and foster kids.

As part of the proposed changes, most of the money outlined in California's Education Code for specific education programs is collapsed into the new funding formula. The governor's stated intent for the local control means eliminating state mandates that tie the hands of those doing the work, which provides numerous opportunities to impact school learning and teaching environments.

The Department of Finance has filled in some of the missing pieces by releasing district breakdowns under the proposed school funding formula. Local educators on CTA's State Council of Education will continue to review the budget proposal to ascertain the impact.

CTA agrees that different student populations require additional funds to educate. However, CTA has some concerns about changing to a new funding formula before schools receive money owed to them from years of state budget cuts. Other concerns include reducing class sizes, providing resources to implement the new Common Core State Standards and the governor's proposal to move adult education to community colleges.

Additionally, CTA wants to ensure the new funding system includes accountability for how the dollars are spent. If the state removes the program-based funding accountability in the current system, the state must look at developing strong penalties for those districts that fail to provide basic services to all students.

There must also be some type of audit requirement to ensure the data used in the new formula is accurate and calculated equally in all schools as well as state definitions for poverty indexes and student classifications.

For more information about the LCCF: See the K-12 section of the governor's budget .summary K thru12 education

 

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Capitol News: LA District's Own Misdeeds Spark New Legislation on Misconduct Charges

Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Los Angeles) has introduced a bill that would implement a change recommended in a recent state report that slammed the Los Angeles Unified School District for improperly handling child abuse charges.  Sen. Lara is seeking inter-district communication about a classified employee who has left a district while under investigation of misconduct width a student.

SB 160 is co-authored by Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) and together width Sen. Lara, says they plan to work width labor on the bill. They want to make sure students are safe and no employee becomes "blacklisted" because of unfounded accusations.

Sen. Lara piloted the original legislative panel that authorized the state "performance audit of the district," and he wrote SB 160 to respond to the audit finding that "there is no statewide mechanism to communicate among school districts when a classified employee at any school district separates by dismissal, resignation, or settlement during the course of an investigation involving misconduct width students."

The performance audit also criticized the LAUSD for repeatedly failing to report abuse allegations against certificated personnel. This failure came despite the legal requirement that officials inform the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC) about the  allegations.  The CCTC can yank a teacher's credential if charges warrant. Without a credential, an educator can't work in any district in California.

Classified employees, by definition, don't have credentials – so they're not subject to the CCTC's oversight.

CTA does not currently have a position on the bill, but will be monitoring the legislation and working width labor coalition partners.

Read more about the audit entitled Los Angeles Unified School District: It Could Do More to Improve Its Handling of Child Abuse Allegations.

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Capitol News: CTA Opposes Sen. Padilla's Dismissal Bill (SB 10)

CTA's State Council of Education has taken a position to oppose Sen. Padilla's (D-Los Angeles) SB 10 that intends to make changes in teacher dismissal law in order to protect students from behavior already prohibited by law. Under existing law, districts can immediately remove from the classroom any educator accused of "immoral conduct" or accused of a serious crime and can keep the employee away from students until the facts of the case have been determined.

Because no one is more concerned than teachers about protecting students from child abuse or other misconduct, CTA is seeking to streamline the process by which teachers may have a day in court to defend themselves against charges of serious misconduct. CTA also opposes SB 10 because it would allow districts to delay dismissal hearings on the charges.  It doesn't require the district to follow a timeline for investigating the allegations or holding a hearing; therefore, creating distrust and uncertainty in the community.

Additionally, Sen. Padilla's SB  10 ignores a performance audit by a state agency that determined the Los  Angeles Unified School District should have protected its students by immediately reporting allegations of inappropriate conduct against teachers to the state licensing agency.  The California Commission on Teaching  Credentialing can revoke the license of any certificated employee, making it  impossible for that employee to work in a public school anywhere in the state.  By not reporting these allegations, the district allowed educators under  suspicion to continue working width students in other districts.

Simply put: The state audit  found massive failure by LAUSD officials to use provisions of current law to  protect students.

CTA is committed to protecting  the safety of students and employees on every campus. It is opposed to  counterproductive legislation that will do nothing more than make it possible  for school districts to suspend educators indefinitely widthout pay and widthout  a hearing.  That's what SB 10 by Sen. Padilla (D-Los Angeles) will do in  addition to allowing districts to ignore the findings of an impartial  arbitrator and fire the teacher, notwidthstanding the arbitrator's finding that  the teacher is not guilty of anything.

CTA will be working to defeat  the measure during its first hearing in the Senate Education Committee later  this month.

Read more about CTA's  position on SB 10.

View CTA's  Key Messages.

Read the bill: SB  10 Bill Text

 

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Capitol News: Teachers' Retirement System Votes to Divest Gun Stocks

The California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS) has voted to begin eliminating gun and ammunition manufacturers from its investment portfolio.

The Board vote followed the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut, which claimed the lives of students and faculty.

While CalSTRS does not have a large investment in these kinds of companies, its board members believe eliminating these connections was an important action for a system that represents educators' retirement interests.

The CalSTRS's Board action is reported in-depth in CalSTRS to Divest in Gunmakers.

 

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CTA Debuts New Publication, Supports Safe Schools, Opposes Arming Teachers and School Volunteers

What happens in the state legislature, in the governor's office, and at state agencies can affect every teacher, education support professional, and student in the state. That's why CTA has created Capitol  News—a weekly publication designed to provide you width timely information about what is going on in the state capitol. Stories from the publication will also be posted on the blog.  Here's the first....

CTA Supports Safe Schools, Opposes Arming Teachers and School Volunteers

Federal and state lawmakers have proposed legislation to ban the sale of military-style assault weapons and to arm teachers. CTA opposes any efforts to unilaterally arm educators across the state and supports U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein's legislation to ban high-powered assault weapons.

Most recently, Assembly Member Tim Donnelly (R-Twin Peaks) introduced AB 202 – that would authorize trained school employees to carry weapons on school campuses.  CTA Pres. Dean Vogel has told reporters that funds would be better allocated to help schools provide desperately needed counseling and other services to students as one part of a preventive program designed to protect students and school employees. As the bill was just introduced, CTA has an interim oppose position. The CTA Board of Directors is set to take action next week.

CTA legislative advocates believe there is very little chance that AB 202 will be approved in the Assembly Public Safety Committee.

 

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Gov. Brown Celebrates Victories for Public Education at State Council Meeting

(Photo above) Gov. Jerry Brown delivered an energetic speech to more than 800 of our members at the California Teachers Association’s State Council of Education session Sunday morning in Los Angeles. The governor joined our educators in celebrating the November election victories that have staved off more than $6 billion in additional school cuts and are providing schools width billions in new funds.

As he did during his State of the State message, the governor thanked our members and CTA for their hard work in securing overwhelming voter approval for Proposition 30, the revenue measure that garnered 55% of the vote. He also commended CTA for its 150 years of service to California's communities including  securing free public education for all students, battling for a quality  education for our students, and fighting for human rights.

The governor in addition reiterated his skepticism about testing as the single  measure of classroom achievement saying, "We seem to think that education  is a thing--like a vaccine--that can be designed from afar and simply injected  into our children But as the Irish poet William Butler Yeats said, "Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire."

The governor also shared stories of the impact his own education has had on his life.

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Columnist Calls Prop. 32's Real Purpose "To Cripple Unions Politically"

Los Angeles Times Columnist George Skelton
George Skelton, a highly respected and insightful political commentator for the Los Angeles Times, has turned his "de-cloaking" device onto Proposition 32, the Special Exemptions Act.   And what he's turned up should help remove the blinders from anyone's eyes.

In a column published October 17 and aptly titled, "Prop. 32's Real Purpose is to Cripple Labor Unions Politically," the long-serving Sacramento observer put it succinctly:

"Prop. 32's real purpose is to cripple labor unions politically. It would do this by prohibiting unions from using payroll deductions for political purposes, width or widthout a worker's permission.

"Corporations — and this is particularly deceptive — also would be covered by the ban. But they generally don't raise political money width payroll deductions. They do it either by dipping into their corporate treasuries or by putting the squeeze on highly paid executives," Skelton writes.

"As a solution to special-interest influence in politics, Prop. 32 is a self-serving sham," Skelton concludes.

Read the entire article in the LA Times: George Skelton's Oct. 17 Column on Prop. 32.

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Survivors’ Group Laughs, Fundraises to Focus Attention on Breast Cancer Awareness Month

To commemorate National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, more than 100 Sacramentans on Sunday night helped a local cancer survivors’ group – Save Ourselves Breast Cancer Organization – raise funds and spirits by practicing what they preach: that laughter is the best medicine.

(From r.) Survivor Mary Lou Pavlick, Survivor Gail Skowronski, Dr. Cass Brown Capell stand width Comedians Mike E. Whitfield, Sacramento Soccer Mom, Mo Betterman, and Brian Diamond, and Survivor Rosie Castaneda, who  spoke width and entertained more than 100 patrons at Laughs Unlimited in Old Sacramento Sunday night.

Coping width the effects of breast cancer and ultimately finding a cure to the dread disease are important to educators, a profession that is some 70% female. Every October at the California Teachers Association’s State Council of Education meeting, educators and school support professionals take time out to honor survivors and urge members to take preventive steps, including self-examinations. This year, the October State Council meeting has been repurposed, width members staying in their own communities in support of pro-education political activities.

Donors, including educators, joined the Save Ourselves organization’s facilitating psychologist, Dr. Cass Brown Capell, and dozens of survivors at an October 7 fundraiser at Laughs Unlimited, a comedy club in old Sacramento.

Coordinated by Sacramento Comedian Brian Diamond, the event funneled all ticket sales proceeds directly to the not-for-profit organization. Diamond brought in four other comedians who donated their performances. The keynoter was Mike E. Winfield, a Sacramento native who has been a cast member of the hit television show, the Office, and has been a guest on the Jay Leno Show.

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Fighting “Koch Addiction”: Anti-special Interest Bus Tour Hits the Capitol

The Patriot Majority Bus Tour made a stop Friday at the State Capitol as part of the effort of working women and men to expose the billionaire Koch brothers, who have pumped more than $400 million in political contributions to tilt the playing field against the middle class.

(At left) Flanked by foes of Proposition 32, the deceptive Special Exemptions Act that masquerades as political reform, Sacramento City Teachers Association President Scott Smith tells reporters that the measure would make it impossible for educators to advocate effectively for smaller class sizes, more funding for schools, and higher educational standards.

Derek Cressman, of California Common Cause, noted that Koch money is behind Proposition 32, the Special Exemptions Act.  Cressman pointed out that the Proposition, disguised as campaign reform, will further tilt the political playing field in favor of wealthy special interests, which outspend unions and working women and men by a ratio of 15 to 1 already.

 

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