Black Caucus Congressional Visits: Getting Work Done on Capitol Hill

Barbara Lee

CTA Board Member Curtis Washington meets with Congresswoman Barbara Lee

CTA sent leaders to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference last week. This year’s theme was Liberty and Justice For All. There were workshops on reversing the school-to-prison pipeline, and a full day Education Braintrust professional development opportunity for educators, co-sponsored by NEA and AFT.

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Educators engaged at CTA’s Unconscious Bias Training

Unconscious Bias

Eleanor Evans San Diego Educators Association and Erin Leavey of Corona-Norco Teachers Association

CTA members from six counties in Southern California participated in CTA Unconscious Bias Training held Thursday September 24 at Region 4 headquarters. Interactive and challenging curriculum gave participants the opportunity to create an environment safe for sharing and asking difficult questions.

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Anaheim Educators urge support of local schools


ASTA president Dean Elder

Citing a host of challenges regarding public schools in Anaheim, a coalition of parents, school board members and teachers have sponsored a city resolution that creates a line item in the Anaheim Municipal budget to support after school enrichment programs and encourage shared facilities access to expand opportunities for students and community members throughout the city.

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Goal achieved to retain quality teachers

After months of negotiations, the Tracy Educators Association and the Tracy Unified School District in San Joaquin County reached a tentative agreement while some 130 educators rallied in support of the teachers’ bargaining team during a fact-finding hearing.
Teachers have been pressing district officials to invest Prop. 30 funds in classroom instruction, including hiring and retaining high-quality, experienced teachers. “Students are our priority, so it was time for the district to make teachers a priority,” says TEA President Joe Raco. “We hope this contract will help recruit and retain our quality teachers.”
The agreement provides a 7.5 percent increase for the 2015-16 school year. The ratification vote will occur when teachers return to school this month. TEA received a raise last year but prior to that had not seen an increase for more than six years.

Collaboration time is key

To improve student learning and teacher training about the new California standards, Fremont Unified educators (Alameda County) negotiated 16 hours of collaboration time in new contract language ratified in June by members of the Fremont Unified District Teachers Association (FUDTA).
In addition to a 5 percent salary increase and improving transfer language, the union won collaboration time that will be paid at a teacher’s (higher) per diem rate for doing 16 hours of work with grade level or department colleagues over the course of the coming school year.
Collaboration must be done in one of these areas: Professional Learning Communities, informing instruction, working on common lessons or assessments, aligning Common Core standards to curriculum resources, sharing best practices, or improving student engagement, says Sherea Westra, president of 1,600-member association.
“We are very excited that the work our members currently do together in collaboration for student success is being valued by the district,” Westra says. “Creating time for teachers to work together to develop and grow as a team will only lead to greater strides in student achievement. The potential of what colleagues can do with this time is endless.”
Read the innovative collaboration contract language at

Willing to strike for students

A fight for additional preparation and instructional time for students took Desert Sands Teachers Association members in Palm Desert to the brink of a strike. Community organizing efforts and mass attendance at school board meetings helped achieve a tentative agreement in late July after nine months of bargaining.
The two-year deal includes increased professional preparation time from 30 to 120 weekly minutes, 10 additional instructional minutes, two paid professional development days, improved health care, an 11.4 percent salary increase, and a 1.5 percent special education stipend.
DSTA educators had been advocating for years for the prep and instructional time for students.
“Don’t offer me a raise and tell me I have to work more hours,” DSTA member Patricia Schoenfeld told school board members. “I already work more hours. I’m doing my part. I want you to do your part and be fair.”

More updates from around the state

Unfair evaluations were removed from four members’ personnel files, thanks to the
Ontario-Montclair Teachers Association (San Bernardino County). The chapter filed a grievance for four members from the same work site, and it was settled at level 2.

When Oakland Education Association members and parents at Westlake Middle School (Alameda County) were told that a charter high school was to be colocated at their site, they took immediate action. Advocating to “move the adults, not the kids,” OEA successfully rallied teachers, parents and the community to push the district to locate the charter elsewhere. In the same county, after the district declared an impasse in negotiations, the San Leandro Teachers Association settled for increased prep time, 5 percent salary increase, and other benefits.

The Sacramento City Teachers Association worked with understaffed school counselors in advocating for students; this resulted in the district agreeing to add 10 counselors districtwide. Advocacy efforts throughout the LCAP consultation process by the Anaheim Elementary Education Association resulted in the district increasing the number of school nurses by 12, psychologists by two, and counselors by seven. Similar efforts by the Anaheim Secondary Teachers Association resulted in reducing the student-teacher ratio by 5.

Oak Grove Educators Association in San Jose reinstated Peer Assistance and Review (PAR) and received a 4.5 percent salary increase. PAR programs are cooperative efforts by local unions and school districts in which teachers provide collegial support, assistance, and review to help other teachers improve instruction and student performance.

In Los Angeles County, Certified Hourly Instructors at Long Beach City College won a grievance providing a 2.7 percent salary increase retroactive to Nov. 1, 2014. The grievance alleged that LBCC failed to meet the “me too” requirement specified in a 2014 memorandum of understanding that linked part-time faculty percentage increase to that negotiated by full-time faculty.

The 2014-15 Covina Unified Education Association contract increased all high school and middle school athletic stipends and all elementary athletic and academic stipends by 20 percent retroactive to July 1. The 2015-16 contract allocates up to 80 athletic/academic activity stipend positions.

The Association of Colton Educators approved a 2015-16 agreement that includes a 6.26 percent increase in the salary schedule, 15 additional release days, and an increase to coaching, activity program and extra time stipends. Also in Riverside County, the Menifee Teachers Association, despite an impasse declared by the district at the beginning of June, won a 5 percent raise retroactive to January 2015. The Temecula Valley Educators Association accepted a 3 percent salary increase effective July 1, with additional stipends for special education teachers.

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Hundreds March for Their Students

Val Verde educators and the Val Verde Unified School District (VVUSD) board are at impasse. The Val Verde Teachers Association (VVTA) represented its 800 educators in a mediation session in late August, during which more than 300 teachers participated in a rally and march.
Teachers say the district’s actions are making it hard to retain and attract highly qualified teachers needed to provide students with the excellent education they deserve.
“It’s difficult when teachers are not being valued by our district,” said Kassandra Johnson, a Val Verde teacher who took part in the march. “Our community can’t keep our quality educators when their compensation continues to drop.”
At a school board meeting on Sept. 1, VVTA President Albert Trudel urged the board to do the right thing: “Our interest … is to get the best teachers in our classrooms for our students. If we don’t work on recruiting and retaining the best, we can’t give the best education to our students.”
The district is offering a 3 percent raise. Last year it offered one-time bonus payments. VVTA is asking for a 7 percent raise so wages are competitive, and permanent future salary schedule increases.
Because of low salaries, many leading local educators are moving to surrounding districts such as Moreno Valley and Riverside that offer better compensation.
Trudel says that Val Verde teachers agreed to a 5 percent pay cut eight years ago, at a time when the district was in financial trouble. They’ve yet to catch up, he adds.
The two sides were set to meet again on Sept. 9.

Trouble in Paradise

Teachers Association of Paradise (TAP) members, concerned that students are being shortchanged by the loss of educators, are taking their worries to parents.
“Like you, we care about our kids and about this community,” says a flier that TAP distributed to parents. “We know the best way to improve is to put a quality teacher in the classroom. Help us prevent quality teachers from leaving Paradise.”
TAP says teachers must be paid a competitive salary. Since last June, Paradise students have lost 34 teachers. Twenty-four went to neighboring districts for better pay and more respectful working conditions, and 10 retired, many saying they left for the same reasons.
The outgoing superintendent convinced the school board new money could not be used to retain quality teachers. But the California Department of Education recently clarified that LCAP funds can be used for teacher quality.
The district’s latest offer is 3 percent for 2014-15 and 4 percent for 2015-16, an increase of 1 percent over the previous offer for 2015-16.
The next round of mediation is Sept. 23.

Agreement in Westminster

In August the Westminster Teachers Association reached a tentative agreement with the Westminster School District for the 2015-16 school year. Highlights include a provision for a five-year evaluation cycle for highly qualified teachers with 10 years of experience; time for professional learning communities and professional development; a 5 percent salary increase retroactive to July 1, 2015; and credit for prior experience for salary schedules (including nurses). Teachers voted to ratify the agreement on Sept. 2.

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Join the National Celebration of American Education Week, Nov. 16-22: Take Part in CTA’s Community Engagement Day, Wed., Nov. 19

Throughout California and the nation, communities are observing the 93rd annual American Education Week, a time to honor students, teachers, education support professionals, parents, and community members who help our students succeed.

And on Wed., Nov. 19, CTA is asking non-educators to “put on a teacher hat” for Community Engagement Day.
Here’s what it’s all about.

AEW began in 1921, with the NEA and the American Legion as sponsors of an event designed to help combat illiteracy.

This year and every year on the week before Thanksgiving, the nation pauses to honor students’ hard work, educators’ professionalism, and parents’ and community members’ support for schools.

Overall, the ongoing aim of the week is to rally support for our public schools and the professionals who provide a high quality education to all of our students.

In California on Community Engagement Day, community members are being invited into schools to teach classes, perform lunch and hall duty, and supervise recess – to spend a day in neighborhood schools.

It’s a great way to learn what it’s like to be a school educational professional.

It’s also a great way to strengthen the links between our schools and our communities.

Learn about American Education Week and about NEA’s Educator for a Day event, which is similar to our own Community Engagement Day. In fact, you can use NEA's Educator for a Day Promotional Kit when planning your November 19 Community Engagement Day!

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CSU Students Protest "Student Success Fees"

As part of “Degrees not Debt” actions this week, students from several CSU campuses and community colleges rallied outside the CSU Board of Trustees in Long Beach Thursday to protest so-called “student success fees” being considered by the board and already in effect on 11 campuses. The fees, totaling nearly $800 per student, are viewed by many as tuition hikes.

Protesters had support from CSU faculty members as well as CTA Board members. The event was organized by NEA, the California Faculty Association (CFA) and Students for Quality Education (SQE).

Inside the trustee meeting, while a few students from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo spoke in favor of maintaining local control of the use of student fees and seemed to support what their campus was using them for, the majority of students criticized the fees as an unfair tuition hike that is putting a university education out of reach for many current and prospective students.

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Temecula Students' Trick-Or-Vote Campaign a Success

Trick or vote

As part of the Get Out the Vote effort, the Temecula Valley Educators Association (TVEA) lent assistance and space to local Temecula Valley High School (TVHS) students in their Trick-Or-Vote campaign as it trained and prepared volunteers to go out on Halloween night in various neighborhoods and engage in a non-partisan GOTV canvassing campaign.

“Students and members canvassed neighborhoods as community ambassadors, providing additional safety with our flashlights, and reminding parents that Election Day is Tuesday, November 4," stated National Honor Society (NHS) Community Service President and TVHS senior Julian Sibby. “We were excited to participate in something we had fun with and at the same time got to be involved in the 2014 Election. NHS is charged to engage in community service, so we thought that dressing up for Halloween would be a great way to do it.”

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The Latest <em>Time</em> Cover is a Sensationalist Outrage

Suggesting that due process makes it nearly impossible to fire teachers, Time's latest cover purposefully leaves the impression that there are many, many teachers in our public schools who should be fired, but are not, solely because of due process laws. Nothing could be further from the truth!

On Monday, Nov. 3, this cover will be in every supermarket checkout line and newsstand across the country—and it’s already online.


Since when do tech millionaires know anything about teaching children? Why should they determine the lives and careers of educators? Why don’t they volunteer to teach for a week and then share their new wisdom?


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Student CTA President Speaks Out on the College Affordability Crisis

Every American deserves a fair shot at higher education. But student debt has become a barrier to accessing the American Dream. Listen to Student CTA President and CSU San Bernardino student Jess Sanchez talk about how student loan debt impacts him.

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

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