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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Even the Grinch can’t believe the Alpine school district’s plan to impose drastic cuts right before Christmas

Alpine Teachers AssociationEven the Grinch can’t believe the Alpine Unified School District plans to cut the salary and benefits of almost half of Alpine’s educators by 32 percent right before Christmas. 

That’s why he’ll be joining Alpine Teachers Association (ATA) members, parents, students, community members and fellow CTA members throughout San Diego County at a rally to protest the Alpine Unified School District’s plan to impose draconian salary and benefits cuts in a special board meeting that will begin at 5pm tonight. Get directions.

Although ATA accepted a fact finder’s recommendation for a fair settlement, the district rejected the proposal last Friday, announcing its determination to ram through its outrageous demands: an $8,000 health benefits cap and a 7.85 percent cut in salary.

Out of 43 San Diego County districts, Alpine’s teachers are already next to last in salary. Despite the district’s outrageous claims and demands, Alpine members are resolved to hold out for a fair contract settlement.

“The district seems intent on diverting attention away from its own culpability of inaccurate budget projections and unwise, unnecessary spending, by scapegoating teachers and crippling us financially," said ATA President Gayle Malone. "But Alpine’s teachers care too much about our students, the community and our profession to stand by while the district damages the town’s ability to provide quality education for its students.” 

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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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Sweetwater EA Stands Up to 11th-hour Change in Health Benefits

Sweetwater Education Association members Sweetwater Education Association members in San Diego County face an eleventh hour change in the district contribution to health benefits that could cost them in excess of $3,000. Superintendent Ed Brand presented the new bargaining proposal on October 7, three weeks before open enrollment was set to begin, threatening to impose the change if SEA does not accept it. 

“The district is trying to unethically use benefits as a way to extract concessions during current contract negotiations,” said SEA President Roberto Rodriguez, adding that the move would hit SEA families hard.

Kicking into gear, SEA’s organizing team coordinated a “Trunk or Treat” rally in the district office parking lot before a school board meeting, with teachers bringing their children to collect treats from the trunks of SEA members’ cars. Pizza was provided for an estimated 600 attendees. “We wanted to demonstrate that SEA knows how to treat our families,” said Helen Farias, SEA organizing chair.

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Shadowy Koch Brothers network fined for money laundering to silence union voices

What goes around comes around. Last week the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) held a much anticipated press conference to share the news that the secret $11 million donation to the NO on Prop 30 / Yes on Prop 32 campaigns was in fact money laundering via the "Koch Brothers Network of dark money political nonprofit corporations".

"This case highlights the nationwide scourge of dark money non-profit networks hiding identities of their contributors,” said Ann Ravel outgoing FPPC Chair.

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Making a difference for 150 years

The inspiring, caring commitment and dedication of California’s educators over the 150 years of CTA’s advocacy for students and public education is highlighted in a statewide television and radio ad campaign launched today.

The back-to-school ad campaign, which runs through October 8, includes Bay Area and Sacramento educators, continuing he this year’s CTA’s 150th anniversary celebration and the union’s dedication to student learning and the teaching profession.

Take a look:

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CTA Members Speak Out Against Editorial Attacks

This weekend, the San Diego Union Tribune ran a hatchet piece against our union in its Opinion-Editorial section. Along with this, it ran an article by Reformer du Jour Michelle Rhee. At no point did the news outlet ask for our stance or offer a spot to rebut the obviously politically-motivated, unsubstantiated claims. We thank our fearless members who speak up against these attacks and help dispel the myths being pushed out to the pubic.

Below is a response from Sweetwater Education Association member Helen Farias:

As a 2013 SUHSD Teacher of the Year and nominee for San Diego County Teacher of the Year, as well as an active member of Sweetwater Education Association and California Teachers Association, I take strong offense to your portrayal of teachers and their unions. You bash unions for protecting bad teachers, but I know that my union allows exceptional teachers to advocate for their students. Because of union protections, there are teachers in Sweetwater who are challenging one of the most corrupt school boards in the nation...

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A Labor Day Reflection

Originally posted on Calitics.com

Labor Day is the one day of the year when we celebrate the historical achievements of the labor movement and honor those who contributed to the social and economic achievement of workers and the middle class. For me, though, this Labor Day is not only a chance to acknowledge what the labor movement has done in the past, but to reflect on what it can do in the present.

Last year at this time, teachers, firefighters, nurses and public servants came together to do something that had been unthinkable for 20 years. We persuaded voters to pass Proposition 30, a temporary tax increase to prevent drastic budget cuts to students and public schools and to keep our economy strong.

That vote was no fluke, because in the same election, voters also rejected Proposition 32, a third try at a ballot proposal that would have silenced middle-class workers and immobilized unions while strengthening the power of billionaire businessmen.

Working families may not have the billions of dollars and deep pockets of big tobacco, oil companies or Wall Street brokers, but last November, we showed that Californians want to invest in public education, their communities and their future. They want to see our economy restored so that more can work their way into the middle class, not fall out of it.

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Take Action to Expose Secret Super PACs

Last November, you said NO to the secret Super PACs’ agenda and helped the Alliance for a Better California defeat the deceptive Proposition 32. We want to thank you for your support.

During the campaign, we learned that the group ‘Americans for Responsible Leadership’ was actually a front used to funnel $11 million into California from anonymous donors trying to gain more power for special interests.

But even after being exposed, the Super PACs still refuse to name their real donors.

The state’s Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) began investigating the dark money groups last year and has already forced them to admit to their deception. They are empowered to expose the special interests for who they really are and fine them for breaking California law.

Help us unmask the Super PAC Billionaires now. Sign our petition to urge the FPPC to fast-track their investigation.

Californians deserve a speedy resolution to this issue to reveal the truth and preserve the integrity of our election process. Sign our petition today and help us ensure that this never happens again.

P.S. To learn more about our fight against the Super PACs, please read this news story.

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CTA and NEA Press Lawmakers to Make Reauthorized ESEA Work

Congress could take up its version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) – HR 5 or the Student Success Act – as early as next week. Our members in California and National Education Association members around the country are urging federal lawmakers to turn the reauthorization bill into one that will work for our students and our schools.

NEA has opposed the bill in committee, and we share concerns about several troubling aspects of the proposed legislation.

HR 5 would undermine the federal government‘s work to ensure equity for all students. The bill would undercut efforts to get targeted resources to schools that educate students width greater needs. HR 5 would also weaken collective bargaining protections involving teacher evaluation. The bill would also continue to force schools to use high stakes testing that is harming teaching and learning.

NEA is also working to stop amendments that would add private school vouchers to the bill. Our members and educators throughout the nation are urging Congress to restore bargaining rights and end the focus on high stakes testing.

Congress could amend the measure over the next several days. In its current form, the bill is not acceptable.

Please urge Congress to refocus the ESEA on its original purpose: ensuring equity for all students.

Call your Congressional Representatives at 1-866-420-3592 and ask them to:

  • Recognize educators’ roles in student success, which means stopping the push for high stakes testing and guaranteeing teachers a voice in their profession through collective bargaining.
  • Oppose any efforts to divert public education funding to private school vouchers.

Or email your Congressional Representatives width the same message.

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

© 1999- California Teachers Association