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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Vallejo Educators Donate School Supplies to Help 2,000 Students

Vallejo Unified teacher Loree Tackmier, transitional kindergarten and childcare director for Vallejo Education Association, with one of the student recipientsTo help their hard-hit community and the families they teach, members of the union representing educators in the Vallejo City Unified School District will spend three afternoons this week supplying much-needed school supplies and books that the union is donating to 2,000 Vallejo students. This will be the fifth year in a row that educators are helping students in their community with free supplies.

As educators, we understand that investing in our students and schools means investing in our community’s future,” said Christal Watts, president of the Vallejo Education Association. “Even though the economy is getting better, many of the families we serve are still struggling in Vallejo. We are proud of this effort to give back and provide just a little bit of extra help by giving school supplies to help our kids in school.

Teachers will distribute to students 2,000 bags of pens, pencils, notebooks, coloring pencils, crayons, erasers and bookmarks at four locations in town. In addition, as in previous years, the Vallejo Friends of the Library are donating several hundred books for students to take home and enjoy.

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Ramona Teachers Reach Tentative Contract Agreement

With the assistance of the Public Employee Relations Board’s General Counsel and Regional Attorney, the Ramona Teachers Association reached a tentative contract agreement width the Ramona School District’s negotiations team late Wednesday evening, May 29, 2013.

The specific terms of the agreement will not be released until RTA’s membership has had an opportunity to review them. RTA’s negotiations team and leadership will recommend that RTA members vote to ratify the tentative agreement in the near future at a meeting for which a date has not yet been determined.

“Reaching the tentative agreement has avoided costly litigation over the district’s imposition and the trauma of a strike on students, the community and RTA members,” said RTA President Donna Braye-Romero. “This tentative agreement brings a settlement that is widthin the realm of reason for both parties.”

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Ramona Teachers Overwhelmingly Approve Strike Authorization Vote

Ramona teachers vote to strikeBy a more than three-fourths majority – width 99 percent voting – members of the Ramona Teachers Association overwhelming approved a vote authorizing the RTA’s executive board to call for a strike action “when and if it becomes necessary” to the teachers’ efforts to achieve a fair contract settlement width the Ramona Unified School District.

“Ramona teachers do not want to strike,” said RTA President Donna Braye-Romero, “but we are not willing to accept the district’s unfair, unreasonable imposition. The cuts will not only cripple us financially, but will ultimately harm Ramona’s students and our entire community. If all other efforts fail, we now have the unity and support to strike as a final option.”

RUSD’s current finances show a 15 percent reserve fund balance at the end of the 2011-2012 school year. In addition, a second interim budget revealed an additional $800K, a figure the district knew at the time, but widthheld from both the fact finder and RTA. Also, the district will see an infusion of new money in next year’s budget and for several years to come from the passage of last fall’s Prop. 30. "Now is the time for prudent caution, not knee-jerk reaction," said Braye-Romero.

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CTA at 150: “In this bright future, you can’t forget your past”

From the San Jose Teachers Association blog:

The best way to honor our past is to simply remember it. Perspectives may change, but the issues we face today are ones that we will be remembered for in the future. The times when we stood up and took charge of our evaluations, our pay, and our work day will be landmarks for future generations. It’s a scary thought imagining what would have been if we did not exercise our rights together as educators.
Read the complete post.

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Three CTA Members Earn California Teacher of the Year Honors: One Will Represent State in National Competition

At a gala in Sacramento on Monday night, Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson honored the state’s teachers for their achievement, singling out the state’s 2013 teachers of the year for special note.

Three of the awardees are CTA members, including the state nominee for National Teacher of the Year.

The superintendent cited the educators for having “shown the kind of skill, passion, and dedication that exemplify the very best of the most important, most demanding, and most rewarding profession there is – teaching.”  The three are:

Sebastien Paul De Clerck  is a 9-12th grade French and Italian teacher at Ventura High School. The state schools chief cited him for “not just closing the achievement gap — but demolishing it.” He is a member of the Ventura Unified Education Association.

Veronica Marquez teaches fifth-grade at Harmony Elementary School in Los Angeles. A member of  United Teachers Los Angeles and a National Board Certified member, Ms. Marguez has worked width gifted students, sheltered English immersion, and bilingual education programs. She has extensive experience providing staff development, mentorships, and training for other teachers. "She sees herself as a gardener who watches her students bloom under her leadership, and sees her students as scholars worthy of better lives,” declared Supt. Torlakson.

I’Asha Warfield teaches seventh-grade English at Frick Middle School in Oakland. She serves as a coach in the Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment (BTSA) program to help new teachers. She also consults width to the Bay Area Writing Project, a professional development program helping educators teach writing skills even more effectively. Supt. Torlakson describes this Oakland Education Association member as being “at the top of her game” in helping students master lessons. She will represent California in the National Teacher of the Year  competition this year.

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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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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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Vallejo Educators Donate School Supplies to Help 2,000 Students

Benjamin Echeverria, 5, gets free school supplies at the Vallejo Education Association Helping Hands event on Tuesday. (Photo: Vallejo Times-Herald)

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Educators Work for Prop. 30, Against Prop. 32, and Media Notices

(From r. -- Weed Teacher Dana Dillon tells Reporter Derek Demo that Proposition 32 is both complex and deceptive.  It will muzzle the voices of teachers, nurses, firefighters, and other middle-class families while increasing the political power of wealthy special interests.)

Thousands of educators took the streets and the phones on Saturday and Sunday in a major mobilization aimed at encouraging voters to pass Proposition 30, the governor’s revenue measure to aid public education, and defeat Proposition 32, the Special Exemptions Act that would increase the political power of wealthy special interests at the expense of working women and men.

Throughout the state, the efforts caught the attention of the media, both in large markets and small.

In Chico, the local NBC and CBS affiliates interviewed four educators, including Weed Teacher Dana Dillon, about the campaign efforts and the educators’ support for Proposition 30 and opposition to Proposition 32.  The 2:05 minute story ran five times on three local stations on Sunday and on every newscast on Monday.

The video showed teachers walking precincts, writing postcards, calling voters, and doing video testimonials about their positions.

The story reports that “California teachers are fighting back against proposition 32, and urging a yes vote on proposition 30. Teachers across the state took made phone calls, wrote post cards, and hit the streets, spreading the message on both propositions.”

The Chico TV story, on KHSL-TV (Ch. 12),  is available on line at Teachers-Hit-The-Streets-for-Propositions.




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