In the Oakland Unified School District, candidates for school board normally spent about 20K to run a competitive race. In contrast, nearly a half million dollars will be spent this year by two independent expenditure committees to help elect three pro-charter school board members to advance the private, for-profit charter school agenda in Alameda County.
According to campaign-finance records, the two committees supporting Harris, Trenado, and Hinton Hodge received almost 90 percent of their funding from a few billionaires, who have played key roles backing the charter-school industry.
From San Bernardino’s splendid peaks to the beautiful beaches of San Diego, California Teachers Association (CTA) State Council members across the Southland have joined volunteers statewide to support Yes on Proposition 55 and ensure California does not go back to the days of billions of dollars in cuts to our public schools.
Last weekend’s activities were part of an ongoing effort to educate the public on the need and value of both Propositions 55 and 58 to meeting the needs of all children in the Golden State.
Efforts included press conferences, rallies, precinct walking, sign marking, phone banking, and in San Diego, a double decker bus was festooned with Yes On 55 messages and driven through downtown San Diego with teachers aboard and to support the proposition.
Statewide elected officials joined local politicians to speak for both initiatives. California State Controller Betty Yee was on hand in San Bernardino and spoke about the importance of the initiative’s passage to ensure our schools will maintain their current funding levels. “Each of us knows the impact public education has had on our lives. What we had prior to the passage of Proposition 30 was a very dark time in the history of California public education- we cannot go back”.
For CTA Executive Board member Marty Meeden, who acted as emcee for the San Diego press conference in Mission Valley, these efforts are vital for a successful campaign. “As educators and support professionals we’re educating voters. Proposition 55 is good policy because it doesn’t raise taxes on anyone- it simply maintains the current rates on our state’s highest earners to fund our schools for all California’s children”, he explained.
Educators are part of a broader coalition that includes firefighters, labor groups, college organizations- joined by parent and student advocacy groups- who plan to continue their efforts to pass 55 and 58 through November 8 Election Day.
In Huntington Beach, Ocean View Teachers Association (OVTA) site representatives are attending training in preparation for meetings at school sites and activities to support “Yes” on Proposition 55.
OVTA site representatives have committed to 3 hours per week over the next 3 weeks or 9 hours over the next 21 days of this 2016 election cycle. As a reminder of that ongoing effort, each site rep, exec board, bargaining team, and political action committee member received a witch’s cauldron labeled with the #YesOn55 sticker- each filled with goodies and a $5 “Thank you” card. Acts of gratitude and thanks are part of the ongoing outreach to OVTA members whose efforts are helping shape the election locally.
Perris Elementary Teachers Association (PETA) members organized in mass on Thursday, rallying in the streets to demand competitive pay that will attract new teachers while expressing their frustration at school officials who have consistently disrespected them by using financial manipulation in order to continue sub-standard pay practices.
125 teachers gathered outside the Perris Elementary School District office on Thursday to register their dissatisfaction with a school board that has communicated through its actions it does not value its outstanding educators. While it has rewarded Superintendent Vincent Ponce with a salary of nearly S230,000 making him one of the highest-paid public employees in the county, teachers have been left behind- ranking near the bottom in pay in Riverside County.
The final insult was the district request for a waiver from the Riverside County School Board to allow it to use less than the state-mandated percentage for employee salaries while simultaneously reclassifying administrators and raising their pay. To do this, the district “cooked the data” to make it appear Perris teachers are appropriately compensated by searching out districts that are not comparable to Perris to make a specious argument.
PETA members spoke a clear message to Perris district officials-Perris Elementary teachers will no longer accept the disrespect of manipulative accounting practices and substandard pay from the Perris Elementary School Board.
On Tuesday, Association of Calexico Teachers (ACT) phone banking team hosted a successful calling effort where volunteers made nearly 400 calls to registered voters in Calexico. While the results were impressive Calexico teachers have set lofty goals this for November 8th; to pass Proposition 55, and get endorsed candidates elected to the Calexico School Board. ACT is looking forward to seeing members at their next phone banking event on OCTOBER 17th!
Ocean View volunteers show the 1,675 handwritten letters to frequent voters
After 7 days of off-campus volunteer work, Ocean View Teachers Association members, Ocean View administrators, and Ocean View School District board members completed the task of handwriting 1,675 letters to Permanent Absentee Voters in the school district expressing the importance of supporting “Yes on Proposition 55”. The initiative ensures school funding will meet the needs of current and future Huntington Beach students.
The Ocean View school community’s educators, administrators, and board members worked together on this early voter outreach project. Schools best serve communities when individuals and leaders come together and act in the interest of students.
Credit Ocean View School District’s entire education community for “walking the talk” in their efforts to support funding for their local schools.
“Our team saw an opportunity to build a new and different relationship with our members and we took advantage of it.” -Chris Brunette
The 2nd Annual Yucaipa-Calimesa Ranch Round-up in Calimesa is one way local chapters are reaching out to members and creating engaging activities and relationships across all generations in their chapter.
Two years ago, Yucaipa-Calimesa Educators Association (YCEA) leaders looked carefully at their changing chapter demographics (and a lack of member involvement in chapter events) and determined to make membership engagement a top priority. By understanding that shift—and listening to members—they are seeing positive results from their family-friendly outreach to their colleagues.
YCEA President Christopher Brunette explained the impact of the Great Recession and their district’s loss of veteran teachers when a Supplemental Early Retirement Program (SERP) was offered and continuous retirements followed the economic downturn. That district decision created a perfect storm that has driven the need for more teachers in Yucaipa-Calimesa Unified School District. About 80 educators have been replaced in the last two years alone—a number that equates to around 20% of chapter membership.
YCEA’s leaders empowered a newly-created Membership Engagement Team to design the new program. Chair Melody Flores and a Lead Event Planner Brittany Davis were tasked with planning a general membership, family-friendly event that would bring millennials and veterans together.
YCEA’s Ranch Round-up, held at Fascination Ranch in Calimesa, has helped to build that new relationship. Leaders participate and get to know their colleagues, both new and veteran, in a family-friendly environment that helps build a positive and personal connection to YCEA. Flores (a ranch owner herself) provided several rustic activities such as “rope a metal steer”and horseshoes. The ranch offered a petting zoo, games, bounce houses and separate play areas for younger children. Davis organized the serving of hundreds of hotdogs, snacks, and drinks at no cost to members and their families.
Relevant and authentic outreach that creates opportunities for new members to find value in their local association is helping build the next generation of YCEA leadership.
San Gorgonio Service Center Council (SGSSC) held this year’s Fall Leadership Conference in Palm Springs under the theme “Paths of Leadership”. Southland members chose from over thirty course offerings designed to improve and strengthen their understanding of local issues, become better versed in the value of ethnic studies and to continue political efforts to win passage of Proposition 55.
Wendy Eccles, San Gorgonio Service Center Chair was pleased with member responses, stating “With the number of different course opportunities and the enthusiasm of leaders and members it was obvious they embraced both our theme and direction.” Members selected from coursework from topics that included member engagement, integrating classroom technology, student classroom behavior, legal issues, grievances and forming local PACs.
That direction also included the invitation of CTA President and keynote speaker Eric Heins, who reminded attendees why passage of Propositions 58, 55 and 52 are important to California educators. Heins explained, “Proposition 58 removes language restrictions so schools are able to use the most up-to-date teaching methods possible to help our students learn.”
Heins also made a pitch for Proposition 52. “When students are sick their learning opportunities- much like their immune systems- are compromised. This initiative will assist with health care costs to help our most vulnerable low-income students stay healthy.”
Proposition 55 had the highest level of member recognition by the weekend’s conference participants. Many members have already received outreach though CTA’s phone banking efforts for the Fall campaign- some had volunteered in their chapter’s local efforts. Heins reiterated the importance of our support, explaining Proposition 55 will not raise taxes on anyone- it maintains current income tax levels, otherwise eliminated after 2017, on our state’s highest wage earners to assure financial support for our public schools. This initiative will help ensure all our children thrive. Pass Prop 55!
SGSSC Chair Wendy Eccles was encouraged by the weekend’s success, stating “Conference attendees left the weekend recharged and ready for their classrooms and for this important November election.”