Teachers develop “Toolkit” in response to Trump’s policies

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California Teachers Association (CTA) and its 325,000 members believe public education is the foundation of our 21st-century democracy. Social justice for all begins with a quality, free public education. Our public schools are where our students come to be educated in the fullest sense of that word, including as citizens of this great country. As educators, we strive every day to make every public school and college a place where we prepare the nation’s young people to contribute to our society.

Our public schools are where our students come to be educated in the fullest sense of that word, including as citizens of this great country. As educators, we strive every day to make every public school and college a place where we prepare the nation’s young people to contribute to our society, economy, and citizenry.

Over the course of the last weeks, the incoming Trump Administration has signaled its hostility to immigrants in the U.S. With a recent ban on Muslims entering from seven Middle Eastern nations and continuous enunciation that a southern border wall will be erected, he has left non-citizens in harm’s way.

For this reason, CTA has developed the Advocating for All Students: A Social Justice Toolkit to help educators and advocates:

  • Create a safe zone for students
  • Encourage local school boards to adopt resolution and join in supporting unity, resolve, and resilience in our schools
  • Report behavior incidents
  • Speak up and share on social media

Educators and education support professionals ensure our schools are safe havens for all students every day. Please use and share these materials as we continue to guarantee a quality public education for every child no matter their zip code.

Nominee DeVos copies her answers

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In a brewing scandal over President Trump’s nominee for secretary of education, Betsy DeVos turned in responses to Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee members that were taken verbatim from government websites without citation or credit. While the initial allegation of plagiarism may be later averted by proper vetting and resubmission, it reinforces the narrative many on the committee have already expressed- Betsy DeVos is not prepared to serve in the role of secretary of education.

Read the Huff Post article.

DeVos nomination clears committee on party line vote

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The nomination of Betsy DeVos for U.S. Secretary of Education was approved today by Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee along strict party-lines and will move to a floor vote within the next two weeks. All Democrats and some Republicans raised concerns over DeVos’s lack of understanding of federal education law and policy before the committee vote. 

Republican senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska expressed their vote to move the nomination to a floor vote should not be interpreted as support when next considered by the full U.S. Senate for final confirmation. The vote is expected in the coming weeks.

The U.S. Senate comprises 52 Republicans and 46 Democrats, with 2 Independents who caucus with the Democratic Party.

Contact Senator Collins here.

Contact Senator Murkowski here

California educators oppose DeVos nomination

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At their statewide council meeting, California Teachers Association (CTA) President Eric Heins announced the 325,000 member organization’s opposition to education secretary nominee Betsy Devos. In a passionate address, he declared DeVos’s history as a billionaire political donor and proponent of for-profit schools and voucher schemes makes her a poor choice to lead the U.S. Department of Education.

Heirs to the Amway fortune, she and her husband have donated at least 200 million dollars to a single party’s legislators and candidates, to which she is on record saying she expects “quid pro quo” for the money she spends. Unfortunately those millions are meant to help dismantle the public school system in favor of private, for-profit charters and vouchers that prove no accountability for the expenditure of taxpayer monies.

Heins cited several reasons for her disqualification, including her total lack of experience in any public school system. Neither she nor her children have attended public schools. She has also contributed to anti-LGBTQ causes such as gay conversion therapy- a medical practice that nearly all clinicians have abandoned as counterproductive and ineffective.

Read more here.

New U.S. immigration policy a dark reminder on Holocaust Remembrance Day

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U.S. immigration policy is the subject of review as Holocaust Remembrance Day officials began Tweeting the names of WWII refugees turned away from the U.S. border in 1939. Forced back to Europe, they were killed in Nazi concentration camps.

President Trump signed executive orders that will limit refugees in specific war-torn regions of the Middle East from entering the U.S. The optics of such an order on this day appears to have escaped the new administration

The new administration was beset with multiple problems in its first week, including growing opposition to several cabinet selections, a worldwide Women’s March that dwarfed the presidential inauguration, and multiple dust-ups with the press over his crowd size that drew attention from the aggressive first-week agenda.

Those items included building a border wall, dismantling the Affordable Care Act, limiting access to abortion funding overseas, and threatening federal reprisals against cities declared as sanctuaries for undocumented Americans.

San Diego Women’s March draws 30,000

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Downtown San Diego drew over thirty thousand peaceful demonstrators who braved inclement weather to participate in today’s Women’s March. The diverse crowd included parents, teachers, feminist groups, reproductive and immigrant rights advocates and others who came to send a message supporting women rights and issues.

The new administration was clearly the target of those marching, whose signs indicated their concern over possible changes in federal policies affecting women, children, and families.

Marchers were festooned with pink-colored and cleverly-eared “pussy cat” knitted caps-part of a nationwide effort to knit over one million in the weeks leading to today’s event.     Men in the crowd who walked with friends, daughters, partners and wives, played a support role in the rally.

Chants of “Love Trumps Hate” and “This is what democracy looks like” were heard throughout the route. Demonstrators were non-violent yet resolute as they sent a clear message to the Trump Administration; We are watching you and we are ready to act.

 

 

 

DeVos and Tigers and Bears…Oh My!

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Yesterday evening’s U.S. Senate confirmation hearing for education secretary nominee was both a lesson in partisan politics and the unusual with Democrats mounting a fierce opposition to the Trump nominee on several grounds including experience and partisanship while erstwhile nominee Betsy DeVos was left lost on questions related to federal education policy and law. At one low point, she refused to support gun-free zones on public school campuses citing Montana’s need to defend its schools from Grizzly bear attacks.

Even more troubling was her facile understanding of federal funding for student loans and unwillingness to hold private, for-profit schools to the same accountability standards as their public school counterparts, particularly on full-inclusion of students with disabilities mandated by the federal government guaranteeing equal access to a free and public education for every student. An overriding body of evidence shows charter schools use tactics to minimize inclusion of special needs students, and at least one state allows parents to waive their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act

While Democrats on the committee continued to raise objection to the limitation by the Republican committee chair Lamar Alexander to a single round of questions for Mrs. DeVos, the hearing was abruptly ended, unfortunately with many questions about DeVos’s nomination still unanswered.

 

South County forum urges educator unity under Trump administration

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South County Teachers hosted a community forum on Martin Luther King Day at Sweetwater High School’s Laura A. Charles Theater focused on educators’ concerns over anticipated federal policy changes under the incoming Trump Administration. South County Teachers United is home to local California Teachers Association (CTA) chapters including Chula Vista Educators, National City Elementary Teachers Association, Southwest Teachers Association, Sweetwater Education Association, Sweetwater Counseling and Guidance Association, and San Ysidro Education Association.

The forum brought together a panel of experts including Dr. Theresa Montano, Vice President of California Teachers Association, Richard Barrera, San Diego Unified School Board Trustee, Dale Kelly Bankhead, Secretary-Treasurer of San Diego and Imperial Labor Council, and Jon Vanderpool, attorney for the law firm Smith, Steiner, Vanderpool, and Wax, to discuss how educators can support students, families, and community members who may be targeted by new federal policies.

The 200 participants in attendance first viewed a short video highlighting south county community members and students who have seen increasing marginalization in the aftermath of the 2016 election. Students and parents shared their personal stories and desire for educators to be supportive of students and to create safe spaces for them as they face increasing challenges.

Panel members addressed what role educators should play during this time of escalating tension. Teachers and education support personnel were reminded by panelists to be vigilant and listen to their students while maintaining a balanced instructional delivery. “What we do outside the classroom in our actions is as important as what we do inside it” explained CTA Vice President Theresa Montaño.

With the nomination of anti-union advocates to the U.S Cabinet it is our teachers who will step in and protect our most vulnerable students. Southwest Teachers Association President Lorena Garcia, Chair of the event, was pleased with the outcome, stating “Educators who are committed to principles of diversity, tolerance, and inclusion will be an equalizing force to ensure our students feel safe and supported in their neighborhood schools.”

CTA President Eric Heins urges unity at OC teachers’ Winter Conference

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A theme of unity and continued relationship-building was the central message at CTA Orange County Service Center Council’s Winter Conference held in Palm Springs over this past weekend. Council Chair Linda Manion was pleased to introduce California Teachers Association (CTA) President Eric Heins as the event’s keynote speaker who reminded leaders in the room continue to build strong relationships with educators throughout their chapters and beyond, stating “Those relationships will serve you and the course of public education for years to come.”

At stake under the new federal administration is the continued support for free and public education in the U.S.  With the nomination of Betsy DeVos, voucher supporters have potentially gained a seat in the current cabinet. DeVos claims no experience with public schools; she and her children all attended private schools and she holds an undergraduate degree from  Calvin College in Michigan. She has spent decades as a conservative philanthropist in support of vouchers in her home state of Michigan and nationally. She and her husband were early investors in K-12 Inc., an online charter school who recently settled a lawsuit with the State of California for $168,000,000.00 over improprieties in calculating Average Daily Attendance.

While the U.S. Senate Confirmation hearing for DeVos has been temporarily delayed, educators should be prepared for a future without national government support for public education as we have known it.

K-12 Incorporated cashes in on DeVos

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Wall Street has reacted to President-elect Trump’s nomination of Billionaire heiress Betsy DeVos with a 50% increase in the stock value of K-12 Inc., a company with a major stake in online charter schools that have come under fire in California and elsewhere for questionable spending practices and poor educational outcomes. The DeVos family was an early investor in K-12 Inc. Read the complete story here.

Devos has also actively supported charters in Michigan and the results have been sobering as documented in a recent Washington Post article.