Leadership

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: 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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Experts Debunk New “Study” Slamming Teacher Preparation Programs

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

The harsh reactions are coming to the Teacher Prep Review released by the National Council on Teacher Quality, which 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, "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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Legislature Approves State Budget: California Educators Are Encouraged by the New Compromise on the Local Control School Funding Formula

The state Senate and Assembly today passed AB 110, the legislature’s budget bill that will make a historic change in how schools are funded. The new budget, which is on its way to the governor for his signature, also provides more than $2 billion to begin repaying school districts funding they are owed after years of drastic cuts. It provides additional funding to ensure that virtually all districts get back to their 2007-08 state funding levels. It also targets more funding to help the state’s neediest students.

“While it will take years for our schools to fully recover, this budget is a big step in the right direction. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen a state budget proposal width a significant increase in education funding,” said CTA President Dean E. Vogel. “The governor’s Local Control Funding Formula that is part of the final budget adds up to renewed opportunities for our schools. We are also encouraged by the $1.25 billion for the implementation of the Common Core State Standards. These new standards will dramatically impact teaching and learning. Educators must have the resources they need to help students succeed.”

New language regarding school district accountability provisions in the final budget protects collective bargaining and limits the oversight of County Offices of Education. This agreement holds the promise of a better future for our students. Take a closer look at details of the agreed-upon budget.

The legislature approved the spending bill a day before the June 15 deadline for sending the measure to the governor.  The governor has until June 30 to sign the budget into law to take effect on July 1, the start of the state’s new fiscal year.

Lawmakers are also debating and approving several “budget trailer measures” that help implement the new spending plan.

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CTA Executive Director Carolyn Doggett Honored by State Council

This weekend, the CTA State Council of Education paid tribute to CTA Executive Director Carolyn Doggett who is retiring after 18 years as CTA's top executive.

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Capitol News: Improving Charter School Governance

On Wednesday, May 8, 2013, the Assembly Education Committee approved a proposal co-sponsored by CTA that requires charter school governing boards to comply width a statute that promotes transparency and accountability to parents and the public in the operation of public schools and expenditure of public funds.

Overall, the goal of AB 913 (Chau) is to have charter schools operate width integrity to ensure their employees (some of whom are represented by CTA) are not deemed ineligible to participate in governmental pension plans by the IRS. Charter school employees are part of the public education system and should receive the protections and benefit plans afforded to all public educational employees, including participation in CalSTRS and CalPERS.

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On this day: CTA turns 150!

CTA has been making a positive impact on education for 150 years now. Our victories during that time include the establishment of free public schools for all children, the creation of our higher education system, due process rights for teachers, and class size reduction. We continue to be engaged in and lead the efforts to improve education for all students in this state, now and for the future.

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Senate Education Defeats Two Opposed Measures; Third Moves Over Educators’ Objections

At the urging of educators, the Senate Education Committee  on Wednesday again defeated two measures that would have respectively undermined effective teacher evaluations and undercut educators’ right to a fair hearing on misconduct allegations.  At the same time, despite educators’ objections, the panel approved an opposed measure that would privatize higher education online coursework.

All three bills were slated for “vote only” proceedings, but the author of one, Sen. Ron Calderon (D-Montebello), offered some amendments and testimony aimed at moving his CTA-opposed  SB 441.

Continued objections by representatives of Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, CTA and other employee organizations led Senators to defeat the measure.  That action came despite extraordinary efforts by StudentsFirst – the so-called “education reform” group started by disgraced former Washington D.C. Chancellor Michelle Rhee – which brought dozens of witnesses to the Capitol in hopes of swaying lawmakers.

The defeat of SB 441, a flagship bill for StudentsFirst, is widely viewed as a rebuff to the organization, which has been reported to rely heavily on anti-union groups for funding.  Recent news reports have uncovered the fact StudentsFirst has received millions of dollars from the Walton family, founders of the non-union WalMart superstore chain.

The panel also defeated SB 531, by Sen. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale).  That bill would have rolled back  due-process protections for certificated faculty and eliminated the May 15 deadline for layoff notifications related to reductions in force.  The bill would also have let school boards ignore the rulings of impartial panels reviewing their personnel actions.

The panel’s approval of SB 520, the CTA-opposed higher education measure by Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), sends the online privatization measure to the  Senate Appropriations Committee.

Educators will seek to defeat the bill there.

 

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