California Teachers Asociation’s (CTA’s) authentic and relevant outreach, the New Educator Weekend, is helping define the power of advocating for students and communities to a new generation of educators who will become the next generation of local and statewide union leaders.
For new educators like Kayla Franklin, CTA New Educators Weekend was an opportunity to receive training from veteran practitioners while learning about the many systems of support their union provides to ensure they can advocate for their students without fear of reprisal.
Kayla joined the Oceanside Teachers Association mid-year and was pleased there were so many options to learn strength-based instructional approaches at her first conference as a professional educator. “I’m already planning on how to use an icebreaker activity I learned about called ‘Two Truths and a Lie’ that I’m sure will increase student interaction”, she explained.
The decision to keep the conference cost low was meant to attract educators who are newer to the profession and typically find opportunities for professional learning and training support an unaffordable luxury. The decision was fortuitous; the sellout weekend proved that CTA succeeded in discovering and meeting a need for additional support for new professionals.
Frustrated by the unwillingness of Perris Elementary School Board to effectively lead the district to a contract settlement with Perris Elementary Teachers Association (PETA), recall procedures are now beginning in the Perris district. Parents and community members have been continuously shut out of the decision-making process, their concerns regarding their children ignored, while the school board works to minimize their impact through threats and intimidation.
Parents’ rights to attend and speak during public comments has been reduced and their access to meetings diminished by PESD. The board continues to hold meetings in a location that is inadequate to house the crowds anxious for the board to address concerns regarding student supplies and to ensure facilities are updated, clean and safe. Parents’ pleas to end the contract dispute have been ignored.
While parents and community members living within PESD boundaries have now waited six months for a settlement to be negotiated between PETA and PESD, division and dissension continue to grow.
Over the last 6 years, PESD has increased the salary of its superintendent by over 60% while continuously resisting a competitive wage that will keep outstanding teachers from leaving Perris for better pay and benefits in surrounding districts. This inability to effectively carry out the duties of Perris Elementary School Board trustee has led to this a determination to recall the entire board.
This inability to effectively carry out the duties of Perris Elementary School Board trustee has led to a determination to recall the board.
To increase awareness of and need for safe spaces on local campuses, Temecula Valley Educators Association (TVEA) members are helping expand Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) programs in the sprawling 32-site suburban district.
For Chaparral High School teacher Kelly Ortiz, these programs are not only lifelines to our LGBTQ youth, they are lifesavers. “My daughter was on the drive home with me from a suicide watch diagnosis several years ago when she came to out me, and I saw the agony of that weight lifted off of her.” It became immediately clear to Kelly that the burden of hiding her sexual identity had been overwhelming and emotionally unhealthy. As an educator, she knew she could help other students who are struggling with these same gender identity issues at her high school site.
GSA district lead advisor Sarah Cisneros organizes the meetings at their TVEA office, where they discuss new and ongoing issues of inclusivity and the importance of students having access to confident LGBTQ role models to help them feel safer and more supported. Challenges include educators building larger networks of campus allies and responding to uneven administrative understanding of the role of such programs, especially on middle and elementary school sites.
Gay Straight Alliance advisors include CTA State Council member Mitch Brown, and Randy Arnayro, who serves on California Teachers Association’s Sexual Orientation Gender Identity Advisory Committee. They will share ongoing efforts with their respective CTA State Council committees.
For Patti’s daughter, now a pre-med collegian activist, awareness and acceptance provided the key to her successful launch- and Temecula Valley Educators Association’s GSA is now looking for more rockets…
Trump with Betsy DeVos
In yet another controversy stemming from the Trump-appointed Secretary of Education’s historical ignorance, Betsy DeVos referred to Historically Black Colleges (HBCs) as the “…real pioneers of school choice” in the U.S., never referencing that “choice” was driven by Jim Crow Laws preventing blacks from attending all-white universities in Southern states. Public school supporters expect DeVos will continue to share narratives reinforcing private, for-profit market reforms in education- even when those narratives prove inaccurate or false. Read the New York Times story here.
Celerity charter schools CEO Vielka McFarlane is under fire again for financial improprieties related to exorbitant credit card purchases for Armani suits, air travel and accommodations, expensive restaurants, and even daily limousine service for the CEO, all while teachers were running fundraisers to meet supply needs at their local schools. McFarlane drew a $471,000 annual salary for her efforts- 35% larger than LAUSD Superintendent Michelle King. Read the LA Times story here.
In a show of power in New Mexico, hundreds converged and dozens of union members from around the state testified against a “Right-to-Work” bill and won a 6 to 5 committee vote that effectively killed the legislation in this year’s cycle.
With accusations of ‘union-busting’ leveled by some speakers who joined the chorus opposing the bill, they packed the room where the House Labor and Economic Development Committee was meeting February 25 for a hearing on the measure- and sent a nationwide message of what democracy looks like in the Land of Enchantment. Read the story here.