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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Nearly 40 Capitol/Delta Educators Urge Legislators to Defeat Three Opposed Measures

(Photo above) Sen. Tom Berryhill (R-Twain-Harte) reviews information on key education bill presented to him by a team of area teachers as part of the Capital/Delta visit to legislators at the state Capitol.

Educators from schools in the area around Sacramento and the river delta came to the Capitol on April 30 to talk to their lawmakers about key measures pending in the legislature. The educators spoke width legislators on two measures dealing width teacher dismissal and evaluation and one providing for privatization of higher education coursework. The three measures are pending in the Senate Education Committee, which has them on a vote-only agenda for Wednesday, May 1.  Educators testified against the measures during an earlier committee hearing on April 24. Specifically, the educators are seeking to defeat: SB 441, the CTA-opposed measure by Sen. Ron Calderon (D-Montebello).  Heavily backed by StudentsFirst and founder Michelle Rhee, the bill seeks to drastically change teacher evaluations. Instead of improving the teacher evaluation system, this bill would limit evaluations to four measurements. It would also eliminate their input on evaluation processes by eliminating the subject as an item width the scope of local collective bargaining. In the view of educators, the measure would do nothing to provide them width the useful and effective feedback that would help them become even better teachers. The bill failed to gain the five votes needed for passage during the April 24 hearing, but the author was able to gain “reconsideration,” paving the way for the May 1 revote. SB 531, the CTA-opposed bill by Sen. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale). This bill would make onerous changes to the laws governing discipline and dismissal of certificated employees.  It would eliminate employee input about a fair process by eliminating these items from the scope of bargaining. SB 520, the CTA-opposed measure by Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento). This measure would privatize community college and higher education on-line courses that should be taught by college faculty. You can help win these important votes by getting in touch width members of the Senate Education Committee through CTA’s Legislative Action Center. The educators were also seeking legislators’ support for CTA-supported AB 375, by Assembly Member Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo).  That measure streamlines and improves the state’s dismissal process to help protect children and the profession.  The measure was on its way to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

capitalgaines1A team of teachers from the Sacramento – Delta areas speaks width a staff member of Sen. Gaines on key issues.  Team Member Dana Dillon, an elementary teacher from Weed, urges support for AB 375, a teacher dismissal bill by Assembly Member Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo) and a “no” vote on SB 441, by Sen. Ron Calderon (D-Montebello), an opposed measure that would undermine effective evaluation for educators.  Other team members include area teachers Nik Fertitta (out of frame), Lysa Sassman, Alek Ustaszewski, and John Halvorsen.

capitalwolk1A staff member for Sen. Lois Wolk , Michael Erke (c.) talks width (r.) Rob Rogers, who teaches in Woodland, and Howard Blair, who teaches in Davis.

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CTA-Opposed Bills Gain May 1 Revote

CTA-opposed bills defeated in committee last week are up for reconsideration. Senate Education Committee on April 24 gave only four votes to CTA-opposed SB 441 (Calderon) and just two votes to SB 531 (Knight).  Both measures needed five votes to pass out of the committee.  But the authors requested and received permission for a “reconsideration,” which means the measures will come up for another vote in the same Senate Education Committee on May 1.

Generally, reconsideration is granted to an author as a courtesy, but the close 4-4 vote on SB 441 – and the pressure being exerted by Michelle Rhee, the disgraced former chancellor of the Washington D.C. school system, and her StudentsFirst organization -- means educators need to re-double efforts to contact senators to make sure the bill doesn’t get the votes to pass.

While Sen. Knight’s SB 531 garnered fewer votes (only two) last week, educators should remain vigilant.

Teachers and other school supporters are contacting members of Senate Education to make sure the bills do not get out of committee, even on a second try.

Members of the Senate Education Committee are:

Senator Carol Liu (Chair): (916) 651-4025 and (818) 409-0400 Senator Mark Wyland (Vice Chair): (916) 651-4038 and (949) 489-9838 Senator Marty Block: (916) 651-4039 and (619) 645-3133 Senator Lou Correa: (916) 651-4034 and (714) 558-4400 Senator Loni Hancock: (916) 651-4009 and (510) 286-1333 Senator Ben Hueso: (916) 651-4040 and (619) 409-7690 Senator Bob Huff: (916) 651-4029 and (714) 671-9474 Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson: (916) 651-4019 and (805) 965-0862 Senator Bill Monning: (916) 651-4017and (831) 425-0401

Briefly, here’s some information and links for more information about the two bills:

CTA-opposed SB 441 (Calderon) would require all permanent certificated educators to be evaluated every three years against four standards, including student test scores.  The measure fails to address weaknesses in the current evaluation systems and eliminates teachers’ voices in the process by removing evaluations from the scope of collective bargaining.  CTA believes in a comprehensive and effective evaluation system that helps practitioners get even better.  SB 441 fails to pass the test.  For more information, see SB 441 documents at cta.org.

SB 531 (Knight) – This bill would roll back the due-process protections for certificated faculty and eliminate the May 15 deadline for layoff notifications related to reductions in force.  Among its major provisions, the bill would make the outcome of an impartial commission’s investigation of charges simply advisory. That means the district can dismiss a teacher even if an impartial panel has found the charges to be widthout merit.  The measure includes other equally onerous provisions.

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Doggett Urges Council to Keep Fighting for Union Ideals

CTA Executive Director Carolyn Doggett learned her union ideals from her own father, a logger who suffered a head injury on the job. When he was able to return to work two years later, he tried to organize the logging industry and continued to fight for salaries, benefits and safe working conditions.

"Armed width those beliefs, when I took a teaching job in Alaska at the age of 23 in 1969, I immediately got involved in the union as my school's site rep," she told State Council during her Sunday morning comments. Her union activity only escalated from there.

When she was later elected president of her local chapter, the headline in the Anchorage newspaper read: "Teachers Elect Woman." She noted, "I guess you could say I've been an outspoken education activist, feminist and union organizer ever since."

Doggett, who is retiring in June, has faced her own challenges as the first female to serve as CTA's executive director. She recalls meeting then Assembly Speaker Curt Pringle shortly after her appointment in 1995.

"He looked at me kind of puzzled, and the first words out of his mouth were, 'But you're a girl.' I took a deep breath and said, 'You're a boy. Now that we've clarified that, let's talk about what's important for educators and our public schools.' "

Doggett's remarks were made two days before Equal Pay Day, April 9, a date that symbolizes how far into 2013 women must work to earn what men earned in 2012.

"The wage gap remained statistically unchanged last year as women earned 77 cents for every dollar earned by men," she observed.

With public education employees now comprising the largest group of union members in the country — of which about 70 percent of the membership is female — the NEA has emerged as the largest labor union in the United States.

"So it is no coincidence that attacks on labor are targeted at education unions," Doggett said.

On average, Doggett made clear, unionized workers earn 27 percent more than nonunion workers, are 54 percent more likely to have employer-provided pensions, and are more likely to have health insurance. Despite those gains, women workers still lag behind in wages.

"Over a 40-year period, the typical woman who works full time makes $443,000 less than the typical man," Doggett said. "She would have to work another 12 years to make up this gap."

Doggett urged State Council to continue the fight for equal pay for women. But equal pay isn't the only issue that must be resolved widthin and outside the labor movement.

With collective bargaining rights and retirement benefits under attack, it's important for CTA to continue to "educate, agitate and organize," Doggett said, quoting labor leader Fred Ross Sr., who mentored César Chávez.

"We have the issues on our side," Doggett said. "We have the ability and the capability to reclaim our public schools, the education profession and the American Dream for everyone."

Read Carolyn Doggett's speech to Council April 7, 2013.

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Decrease in Pink Slips Thanks to Prop 30

The sharp decrease in the number of pink slips from 20,000 last year to 3,000 this March can be directly attributed to the historic passage of the CTA-supported Proposition 30 in November.

So stated CTA President Dean E. Vogel during remarks to the State Council of Education Saturday morning, April 6 in Los Angeles.

"We not only changed the number of pink slips that were sent out this year, we have changed the public conversation," Vogel said. "Just this week, the New York Times editorialized: 'California has recently shown signs of coming to its senses. Last fall, voters approved Proposition 30, which raises taxes and directs most of the proceeds to education.' "

He added, "That was you, each of you, getting out, talking to friends, neighbors, one voter at a time, that turned the tide."

As CTA embarks on its 150th anniversary celebration this year, Vogel noted, the organization has always stood up for the cause of public education. As CTA founder John Swett once wrote:

"If one state in the union needs a system of free schools more than any other, that State is California. Her population is drawn from all nations. The next generation will be a composite one, made up of the heterogeneous atoms of all nationalities. Nothing can Americanize these chaotic elements and breathe into them the spirit of our institutions but the public schools."

That's one of the reasons CTA is joining the National Education Association, other labor unions and community groups in support of reforming our shattered immigration system.

"The children of these immigrants are our students, who, width our guidance, will become the leaders, the business owners, the workers and the teachers of the future," Vogel said.

While Gov. Brown also believes every student is entitled to educational equality, CTA has some concerns about aspects of his Local Control Funding Formula submitted in his state budget. The formula is designed to provide base level founding to all students and additional funding for English learners, students living in poverty and foster youth. Under the new proposal, many categorical programs would be consolidated, and funds to implement programs like the Common Core State Standards would be decided at the local level. This necessitates that local chapters be involved in those decisions.

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State Democratic Party Slams "Corporate" Reformers, as Rhee Reels Under Cheating Accusations

Microsoft's Gates Recants His Support for Tying Student Test Scores to Teacher Evaluations

The California Democratic Party during its state convention this past weekend approved a resolution reaffirming its support for public education and hitting Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst and other "corporate reformers," whose ostensible efforts to help public education are being funded by wealthy corporate interests width anti-public school agendas.

The Democratic Party's resolution – passed unanimously – followed the release of a confidential memo that shows StudentsFirst founder Michelle Rhee was aware of and took no action on the widespread cheating scandal that rocked Washington, D.C., public schools while she served as chancellor.

That memo was uncovered by veteran education reporter John Merrow and has generated a lot of media attention. News stories have focused on the scandal and on the failure of Rhee's "reform" package, including her unproven assertions that student test scores are an effective measure of teaching quality.

Meanwhile, Microsoft founder Bill Gates reversed course earlier this month after a study he funded found that tying test scores to teacher evaluation does not improve teacher effectiveness. His letter in the Washington Post is worth the read, as is a Los Angeles Times editorial piece, LA Times: Gates' warning on test scores.

Read the latest from John Merrow: Who Created Michelle Rhee?

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Nearly 30 Educators from Alameda and Concord Counties Urge Lawmakers to Vote for Public Schools

More than two dozen educators -- representing hundreds of their colleagues -- journeyed by bus to the state Capitol on Tuesday for a very important reason: to urge their 10 lawmakers to support key pro-education legislation and to vote against counterproductive measures. They also spoke about other education issues, such as funding, that are vital to their students.

Educators from the area head to the Capitol annually to talk to their legislators about education and labor issues.

During their meetings, the teachers and other educators asked lawmakers to support:

CTA-sponsored AB 449, by Assembly Member Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance).  This measure will close a loophole that will allow the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing to revoke the credentials of superintendents who fails to report to the CCTC accusations of child abuse or misconduct that have resulted in an “adverse” action against an employee. The bill would open district officials widthout credentials to criminal misdemeanor charges for failing to make the required reports.

They asked their elected representatives to oppose:

AB 815, by Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway (R-Tulare), and SB 452, Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar), two measures that would allow profit-making charter school companies to take over public schools by pulling a “parent trigger.”

All three measures are set for hearing on Wednesday.

The teams of educators met width Assembly Members Susan Bonilla (D-Concord), Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo), Jim Frazier (D-Oakley), Bill Quirk (D-Hayward), Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont),  and Senators Ellen Corbett (D-San Leandro), Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord), and Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley).

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Public Education a High Priority at CA Democratic Convention

In the video below, CTA President Dean Vogel addresses delegates at this weekend's California Democratic Convention in Sacramento.

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Capitol News: CTA and NEA Press for Immigration Reform and Educational Financial Aid for All Residents

CTA and the National Education Association have been at the forefront of the battle (in the state and in Congress) to secure full college access to all students, regardless of their immigration status.  CTA and NEA are fighting for the passage of the Dream Act to provide all students in need width financial aid. Current law restricts the availability of funding, depending upon a student's residency status.

Educators are also concerned about the impact of the nation's broken immigration system on students and their families. CTA policy supports a system that values keeping families together, provides a path to citizenship for those aspiring Americans who are working in our communities, and ensures all students have an opportunity for higher education.

Take action now by signing the Student and Family Petition. CTA and NEA will participate in the national rally in Washington, D.C., on April 10. Be sure to share your story on how the broken immigration system hurts our students.

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