River Valley Charter teachers ratify 1st contract

 

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Negotiators Michael Elmann, Giavanna Neff, and Diane Huff share their first contract

River Valley Charter Teachers Association (RVCTA), one of Californa Teachers Association’s (CTA’s) newest affiliates, signed their first-ever contract with Lakeside Unified School District that includes due process procedures for members before termination and binding arbitration to encourage fair resolution of charter educators’ issues. To ensure quality teachers remain rather than seeking better pay elsewhere, their negotiating team also bargained an 8% raise that brings their salary much closer to nearby districts.

 

Along with CTA and the National Education Association, River Valley Charter is also affiliated the local Lakeside Teachers Association and received official Public Employment Relations Board recognition in 2016.

TVHS Biosustainability Club receives 20K CTA IFT Grant for greenhouse construction

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The newly-launched Temecula Valley high School (TVHS) Biosustainability Club has just received a twenty thousand dollar Institute For Teaching (IFT) Grant to help support the construction of an extensive on-campus greenhouse. Designed, built, and maintained by students, the aquaponics system will supply green produce and fish for the needs of the campus culinary arts program and local food pantry.  Statewide, grants are awarded to individuals and programs that exhibit innovation, with programs that tap into school and communities using a strength-based approach.

Advanced Placement Biology teacher Tobin Brannon has been encouraged by the level of parent and student interest the concept has generated; “We are so appreciative of the opportunity that CTA and IFT have afforded TVHS Biosustainability.  Their belief and trust in the vision of our students is going to transform the educational experience of every student involved as well as affect positive change on our school campus and in our local community.”

Read the award letter below:

The Institute for Teaching sincerely appreciates the time and energy you spent envisioning and describing your strength-based grant project. We are pleased to inform you that your grant proposal was approved by the IFT Board of Directors on June 15, 2017 for a grant award in the amount of $ 20000 for the 2017-2018 school year.

Your local chapter Temecula Valley Educators Association, will serve as a fiscal agent to receive funds on behalf of your project, BioSustainability.  IFT will be sending a letter to you, your local Association president and treasurer to explain this process. That letter will be accompanied by a check for the full amount of the grant funds requested.

It will be necessary for you to complete a summary report, including a complete financial accounting, by the end of the 2017-2018 school year. IFT also encourages you to begin now to consider how you might be able to record the progress of your grant project. Please consider joining IFT’s social media platform http://www.strengthbasedhub.org to hook up with other grant recipients. We welcome photos and videos, as well as a link to any local stories that might feature your project. We also look forward to visiting with you next year in person at your school site.

Your proposal was 1 of 132 applications that were submitted by CTA members statewide. That represents the highest number of applications in the eight-year history of the grant program. All proposals were evaluated through the lens of the IFT Strength-Based matrix and each was scored on a 0-3-point scale for each of the seven areas of the matrix.

The Grant Selection committee recommended a total of 49 Educator and Impact grants for next year totaling $583,529. Unfortunately, there were many worthy proposals that were not recommended for funding due to budget constraints.

We will send you some additional information soon, but please don’t hesitate to contact Jackie Hidalgo (Jhidalgo@cta.org) or me at IFT office if you have questions or concerns.

Thank you for your participation in the IFT Grant program and for your willingness to go above and beyond for your students.

Dick Gale

Manager/Program Director

CTA Institute for Teaching

DeVos sanctions discrimination against LGBTQ students & families

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Testifying before the House Appropriations Sub-Committee on Education, Secretary Betsy DeVos refused to commit to denying federal education funds to schools where direct evidence of discrimination against minority groups exists.

When Representative Katherine Clark (D-MA) questioned whether or not the Secretary of Education would back a religious school like Indiana’s Christian Lighthouse Academy (currently receiving 665,00.00 in annual state support) that refused to admit children of LGBTQ families, DeVos avoided response, eventually landing on the words “… states and local communities are best equipped to make these decisions and frameworks on behalf of their students.” Representative Clark immediately responded, “I am shocked you can’t come up with one example of discrimination that you would stand up for students.” Read the story here.

 

 

Billionaires Buy LAUSD School Board Election for $10 Million

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Showing that money clearly can impact local elections, a group of billionaires with an agenda to privatize our public schools spent more than $10 million to buy two seats on the Los Angeles Unified School District Board. Last night’s election is certainly disappointing for educators and parents fighting to keep the right to a free public education available to all students. The record-breaking amount of money spent in these two school board races is sadly not surprising, as the same group of corporate charter school donors spent more than $27 million to buy state legislative seats last year. Public education should be about kids, not profits.

Educators will never have the bank accounts of these billionaires, but what we have is the deep commitment and will to speak out for our students and to fight for the quality public education they deserve. Joining with parents and our community supporters, who spent countless hours working so hard on these campaigns and who did not allow the misinformation and exorbitant spending to slow them down, we will not stop now.

We will continue to work with coalition partners to ensure passage of three key bills – AB 1360, AB 1478 and SB 808 – to ensure accountability, transparency and equity to unregulated charter schools. Together, we will fight to invest in our neighborhood public schools. Together, we will fight for all students and against President Trump’s and Secretary DeVos’ plans to privatize our schools and divide our communities.

Eric Heins

CTA President

California’s Educators Lead Social Justice Day of Action Across the State in Support of Safe Schools for ALL Students

 

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CTA Pres. Eric Heins and State Supt. Tom Torlakson join the “Support tunnel” in Oakland

The California Teachers Association led a massive social justice-focused Day of Action today across the state in which thousands of educators, administrators, students, parents and community supporters rose up together to protect public education and send the message that all students deserve safe schools.

 

Educators kicked off the Day of Action with a news conference at an Oakland elementary school featuring CTA President Eric Heins, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, parents, teachers and students all demanding that public schools must be safe havens for all students.

“Public education is a basic civil right. It was profoundly inspiring today to see the solidarity, camaraderie, commitment and support for each other that we witnessed at public schools up and down the Golden State today,” said Heins. “The message to the White House and this administration was made loud and clear that California is not going to allow them to dismantle or privatize public education. Together, we stand up for the right of all students to feel safe and respected at school. On behalf of our 325,000 CTA members and the 6 million students we teach and work with every day, thank you to everyone who took part in our Day of Action.”

State schools chief Torlakson has urged all California school districts to declare themselves safe havens for students. “All across California, students, parents and community members are walking in to school together today to show that schools must be safe for everyone,” Torlakson said. “Students have a right to public education, regardless of their family’s immigration status.”

CTA Vice President Theresa Montaño was with Alhambra Unified School District educators, students and parents for a “walk-in” solidarity event where all entered school together this morning. “Educators will continue to resist all federal policies that hurt our students,” she said. “The hateful rhetoric and bullying of DREAMers, immigrant children, LGBT students, Muslims and others must stop. Today was about our united front for a future that strengthens our public schools and respects all students.”

CTA Secretary-Treasurer David Goldberg was with the community of educators, parents, administrators and supporters in the Burbank Unified School District. “I’m very proud to be part of CTA as we take actions at school sites across California and join a broader movement for immigrant rights and educational justice today,” Goldberg said. “This social justice-inspired groundswell of local resistance to all White House attempts to frighten students and dismantle public education will only continue to build.”

With its historical roots dating back to 1886, May 1st has long been linked to a day to honor international workers’ rights. More recently, May Day became a national day of action to raise awareness about immigration rights and the need to keep families together as they struggle for a better life. The day coincided with a national day to take back our schools organized by the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools.

Among all the hundreds of school activities, local educators asked the public to take the CTA pledge to support public education by signing the petition at www.cta.org/ForAllStudents. The pledge is inspired by CTA’s research-based Advocacy Agenda to provide students with the quality education they all deserve. New CTA radio ads about the pledge are here.

Educators who took part in statewide activities shared the following remarks for attribution:

“We want to demonstrate our unwavering support for all our students. We want to ensure that all of our schools remain safe and are able to provide our students with what they need to be successful in the 21st century. We ask all Californians and the Burbank community to join us in pledging their support for a strong, inclusive, safe, adequately funded, and innovative public education system.”  — Diana Abasta, Burbank Teachers Association President

“In this time of crisis and resistance, when so many of our students and their families are threatened by the racist rhetoric and inhumane policies coming out of Washington, and as the Trump/DeVos privatization agenda threatens our public schools, we are joining our communities today to fight for immigrant rights as well as economic, social, and educational justice. Together, we demonstrate there is strength in numbers and power in solidarity. Together, we will resist.” — Alex Caputo-Pearl, United Teachers Los Angeles President

“Oakland Education Association members affirmed today that our public ‘Schools Are For Everyone’, as in ‘S.A.F.E.,’ at our sites this morning. We joined with our community in a march for immigrant and workers’ rights in the afternoon to build the collective strength to have the schools, city, state, and country ALL Oakland children deserve!” — Trish Gorham, Oakland Education Association President

“Fremont and Newark educators are working together today to show our communities that we support inclusive and safe public schools for ALL students by marching at a location where our two cities meet. Opportunities like today’s CTA Day of Action to unite for students make our public schools even greater.” — Sherea Westra, Fremont Unified District Teachers Association President

“Members of the Desert Sands Teachers Association believe that all students deserve time to learn and teachers deserve time to teach. A child is more than a test score!” — Mona Davidson, Desert Sands Teachers Association President

“Today, on May 1, the day when all labor stands together in solidarity, our schools are standing together for public education. In San Ramon Valley, we know that in order to provide a quality education for ALL students, we believe that our schools must be inclusive of everyone no matter where you were born, who you love, what you believe in, or the color of your skin. A free public education is a BASIC civil right!” — Ann Katzburg, San Ramon Valley Education Association President

“We are uniting with school board trustees, administration, and our CSEA brothers and sisters to welcome our students and parents to school to show our support for ALL students and families. We want to assure our families we work hard together to provide safe, welcoming and inclusive schools and classrooms across our district. Our school board is to be commended for being the first in Kern County, on October 18, 2016, that passed a resolution opposing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement threat of actions in the Arvin Union School District. We are very excited about this concerted effort of support for our community.” — Michael Flores-Castaneda, Arvin Teachers Association President

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Santa Ana Teachers Rally against school cuts

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At Santa Ana Unified School District’s (SAUSD’s) Reduction In Force (RIF) Hearing, third-year Santa Ana School teacher Pedro Reyes described the anxiety of the potential loss of his teaching job- one he has successfully served in for three years. “It doesn’t make sense.” he said, “Why are they laying off educators in the middle of a teacher shortage?” 

In a show of support after Tuesday’s Layoff Hearing held at Santa Ana Villa High School, scores of teachers and classified staff rallied and marched at the site and on the district office in opposition SAUSD’s decision to cut personnel and increase class size in the sprawling district in central Orange County. 

Santa Ana Educators Association (SAEA) President Barbara Pierson was pleased so many educators and others remained to join the rally after the hearing’s end. “We all know that cutting educators and support staff hurts children- and we refuse to be silent about it.”

California School Employees Association (CSEA) Local 41  President Eddie Luna, who also organized the event, encouraged their members to stay united. “We know by standing together we can protect our community.”

Farewell to a fallen San Bernardino teacher

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California Teachers Association (CTA) President Eric Heins and San Bernardino Teachers Association (SBTA) President Ashley Bettas-Alcalá participated in a ceremony this morning at North Park Elementary School honoring the lives of special education teacher Karen Smith and student Jonathan Martinez- both teacher and student were tragically slain on campus Monday morning.

SBTA leaders have worked tirelessly with the school and education community to ensure educators, students, and parents know that their pain is shared by many, and their well-being is paramount as they move through this time of emotional struggle. CTA President Eric Heins reminded attendees “CTA is a family, and when one hurts we all do. We stand with you in your grief and sadness.”

North Park Elementary educators have received a welcome outpouring of support from many sources, including local businesses who have provided food, hundreds of plush toys for students, banners, flowers, balloons- even candles for the nightly vigils.

SBTA President Ashley Bettas-Alcala reminded North Park Elementary teachers they will be in everyone’s thoughts in the weeks and months ahead. “As your union, I promise we will be there for you.”

How charter schools turn our taxes into private property

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Lax regulatory policies have led to exponential Charter school growth in California. Scores of scandals have resulted from the lack of accountability, with some operators settling with the state to return as much as 138 million dollars in just one case.

The ability enjoyed by for-profit charters includes the receipt of taxpayer money to finance the purchase of facilities and property and keep it all- even if the school ultimately closes.

Capital and Main delves into the abuses here.