Election results affirm UTLA’s direction

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In a landslide victory for United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) incumbent President Alex Caputo-Pearl, he and his fellow Union Power candidates have been re-elected by a substantial margin- a strong endorsement of the union’s direction in de-centralizing power and the union’s movement toward community organizing that has been UTLA’s focus since his tenure began in 2014.

Caputo-Pearl, who heads the Union Power ticket, received 82% of the vote to his challenger’s 18%. Union Power candidates won all seven officer positions outright and all positions they ran for on the Board of Directors, building on Union Power’s decisive results from 2014. Officer candidates must secure more than 50% of the vote to avoid a runoff and be elected.

Since Caputo-Pearl and his leadership team took office in 2014, UTLA has reinvented itself as a proactive, organizing union, building coalitions with parents and the community to make progress for our schools and protect public education from privatization under the banner of the Schools LA Students Deserve campaign.

Caputo-Pearl’s victory and the broader results for Union Power reflect a mandate and build greater momentum behind the union’s immediate priorities:

 

 

  • Building escalating actions in support of re-opener and successor contract bargaining, including demands for salary increases, protection of active and retiree health benefits, class-size reduction, increases in staff supporting the social and emotional well-being of students, and more, within the framework of bargaining for the common good.

 

  • Organizing behind recently submitted state legislation in support of funding a community school model and in support of equity, access, local accountability, and transparency for charter school operators.

 

  • Defending our students and communities from federal anti-immigrant and anti-human rights attacks, while continuing to expose the Trump/DeVos/CA Charter Schools Association privatization agenda.

 

  • Organizing behind pro-public school, pro-community school candidates in the School Board elections.

 

  • Increasing site organizing and representation power to improve conditions at local schools.

 

The election results are pending challenges and must be certified by the UTLA Board to be official. The new officers and Board of Directors members take office July 1, 2017, and will serve until June 30, 2020. Ballots were sent to 31,036 members, and 8,187 ballots were cast, a higher turnout than the last citywide election, in 2014, when 7,158 members voted out of 31,505 ballots sent.

Complete election results are posted at www.utla.net/members/utla-elections/all-candidate-election-results<http://www.utla.net/members/utla-elections/all-candidate-election-results?utm_source=All+Member+Email+List%2C+Started+9%2F25%2F2015&utm_campaign=e2a9567268-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_02_27&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_a7138b2d58-e2a9567268->

UTLA, the nation’s second-largest teachers’ union local, represents more than 35,000 teachers and health & human services professionals who work in the Los Angeles Unified School District and in charter schools.

www.utla.net<http://www.utla.net/>

http://wearepublicschools.org<http://wearepublicschools.org/>

San Diego students need well-rounded education

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It’s hard to put a price on a well-rounded education, but the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) has a plan that is putting a price on eliminating enrichment programs for our students. San Diego Education Association (SDEA) made it clear they want student enrichment programs protected with San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) threatening massive cuts in the 2017-2018 school year. Members and parents spoke directly to community members and local school board members in their thirty-minute press conference, opposing what they believe is an economic overreaction to preliminary budget projections that have SDUSD Superintendent Cindy Marten unnecessarily calling for the layoff of 850 positions, including visual and performing arts and 137 physical education teachers throughout the district in the coming school year.

SDEA Vice President Kisha Borden explained her concerns about the lack of input or foresight, stating, “The district has made these decisions without speaking to educators, parents, or students about what they need or don’t need. We are the ones at the schools every day, working with students, supporting students and giving everything to ensure our students succeed. The individuals at Normal Street [SDUSD headquarters] don’t know our students…We know our students.”

Hage Elementary School teacher Adam Goldstein described their education goal “…to engage the whole child with academic and enrichment subjects. That’s why Art, Music, and P.E. need to be a part of our daily curriculum.” He also denounced the superintendent’s decision to cut more than one out of every eight instructional positions as a move that takes SDUSD backward; “If we want creative, confident kids with dynamic minds- not just good test-takers- enrichment programs are not optional, they are necessary.”

San Diego parent Carol Kim, whose two children attend local schools, explained how enrichment programs have articulated lessons with core subjects to give students a deeper understanding of concepts. Her daughter’s description of a lesson acted out in her P.E. class that had students skipping and walking while learning about the circulatory system helped her five-year-old understand a complex system as they exercised. She urged the superintendent to “…reconsider the decisions you’ve been making regarding the budget.”

SDEA Executive Director Carlos Mejia raised concerns about reclassifying administrators and further departmentalization- decisions that draw resources from frontline educators. “There needs to be a change in dynamic thinking in where you invest those resources.” Mejia also stated that decisions “…are being made behind closed doors without any input from parents, educators, or any other stakeholders.”

On Tuesday, February 28, San Diego Unified School Board will meet to make preliminary decisions about the 2017-2018 SDUSD budget.

Despicable DeVos abandons LGBTQ students

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In the embattled first hundred days of the Trump Administration, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions have reversed an Obama Administration policy by removing protections formerly provided for transgender students in public schools that gave them the right to use the bathroom of their choice.

What is most disturbing to educators and LGBTQ advocates is that DeVos apparently shared reservations in rescinding the protections, citing concerns that rolling back recently acquired rights of transgender students could leave them open to harm. Sessions made his case directly to Trump, who issued an ultimatum to either support the new policy or quit.

Instead of standing by her principles and stepping down, (she claims she has quietly supported LGBT rights for years) DeVos caved in and signed off on the change that she has admitted privately could endanger our transgender youth. Read the full N.Y. Times story here.

Southwest teachers march for immigrant rights in San Diego

immigrants-rights-marchSouthwest teachers joined thousands of advocates at San Diego’s Waterfront Park in support of immigrants and refugees. Educators, who continue to support safe schools for every child, rallied for speeches and marched downtown to affirm their belief that all students have a right to a public education.

Advocates used their platform to call for San Diego Mayor Faulconer to declare San Diego a Sanctuary City. While SD has the busiest border crossing in the world, Mayor Faulconer has taken no action to protect immigrants against Trump’s policies.

 

Perris parents deliver “No Confidence” message to local school board

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PERRIS- In a session filled with emotion and anger over ongoing disunity, parents of the Perris Elementary School District (PESD) joined students, and educators at Thursday’s school board meeting to deliver a “No confidence” declaration and demand an end to the contract dispute that has increasingly impacted teacher and community morale.

While overcrowding kept many parents outside the meeting room, those within spoke passionately about the impact on their children and the community when teachers leave Perris for better pay and benefits elsewhere. Several demanded an immediate end to the dispute that they believe has hurt their children.

Teachers have complained of bullying tactics by administrators and school board members. Educators were disturbed by school board president Jose Garcia’s comment that teachers should “take a bullet…” and accept the district’s proposal during a discussion at the last board meeting.

California Teachers Association staff member Ken Johnson confronted the board during the public comments portion of the meeting and provided an abridged version of Roberts Rules of Order. He explained that the board does not follow proper protocol and is regularly out of order during its sessions.

Perris Elementary Teachers Association has moved through official procedures known as impasse and mediation and is now scheduling a state fact-finding hearing in the next weeks while continuing to seek a settlement with PESD.

Unprecedented vote makes DeVos secretary of education

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In a tumultuous end to the process of selection, Vice President Mike Pence cast a deciding vote to split the 50-50 tie in the U.S. Senate and make billionaire Betsy DeVos our next U.S. Secretary of Education. Despite Democrats holding the Senate floor a full 24 hours and two Republican defectors joining them, the effort to upend DeVos’ nomination fell one vote short.

Because it represents the most divisive Trump appointment to date, it sends DeVos into the role weakened by the rancor of her confirmation and with both parties leery of her privatization agenda- one that has caused major controversy in her home state of Michigan. Read the story Politico story here.

DeVos is existential threat to public schools

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With a U.S. Senate vote looming Tuesday, more than 1 million NEA members and public education supporters have emailed their senators to urge a “No” vote on Donald Trump’s nominee for education secretary, Betsy DeVos. Over 50,000 phone calls opposing the nomination have been received by members of Congress.

The Secretary of Education should be the nation’s leading advocate for public schools and the students who attend them—not their main antagonist. That calls for an agenda that provides resources for public schools to ensure all students have the tools and support for success.

People are concerned about DeVos’ complete lack of experience, unpreparedness for office and general hostility to public schools. She has devoted herself toward undermining public education by pushing unaccountable, for-profit charter schools and vouchers, which fund private school tuition at taxpayer expense.

Under unprecedented outreach by constituents, Democrats in the Senate are united in their opposition to DeVos; at least two Republican senators are opposing her as well.
This level of engagement and activism across the nation exemplify the concern not simply about DeVos, but about Trump’s extreme agenda for public education and how it would diminish the opportunities our students deserve.

Teacher activism in support of our public schools will continue whether or not DeVos is confirmed. Educators must stand up to an agenda that would keep public schools from providing early-learning opportunities, one-on-one attention, inviting classrooms, a well-rounded curriculum and community support services such as nutrition, health and after-school programs for students.