San Diego teachers march to protest cuts to schools and programs
Scores of San Diego Education Association (SDEA) teachers rallied outside Madison High School to protest proposed cuts to schools that will limit students’ access to P.E., Art, and Music classes throughout the sprawling San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD).
Weeks ago, the SDUSD Board of Trustees voted to eliminate more than 1,400 jobs — of which 861 include teachers, counselors, school nurses, psychologists and other credentialed positions.
For teachers, the cuts are both personal and professional. Not only do they hurt some of their most vulnerable students, they are based on calculations the district is notorious for miscalculating. SDEA President Lindsey Burningham explained, “The District has always over projected their expenses and under projected their revenue.” She argues that with additional monies from the state in May and June, along with budget adjustments, the cuts are largely unnecessary.
As the process of Reduction In Force (RIF) is ongoing, SDEA will continue to raise opposition to unnecessary disruptions to local schools that eliminate opportunities for are most economically challenged students and neighborhoods.
WASHINGTON — The Senate Judiciary Committee today advanced the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court. The National Education Association remains troubled by Judge Neil Gorsuch’s record on students with disabilities cases and his testimony about that record during the confirmation hearings.
The following statement can be attributed to NEA President Lily Eskelsen García:
“During questioning about his judicial record, Judge Neil Gorsuch repeatedly described his rulings as unanimous or based on precedent when they were not. Facts are facts, and we fact-checked his record. Judge Gorsuch has ruled against students with disabilities in eight out of 10 cases. In a rare case where Judge Gorsuch ruled for the student, he wrote separately that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act does not provide services to help students succeed outside of the classroom.
“Judge Gorsuch’s record has wrongly limited the rights of students with disabilities, and all sitting justices on the Supreme Court agree. Just as Judge Gorsuch was testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Supreme Court unanimously rejected his standard for an ‘appropriate education,’ which in his view is ‘merely’ more than no education at all. The bottom line is that Judge Gorsuch’s rulings have made it harder for students to get the services and learning environment that are most appropriate for them. Our students deserve better.
“The National Education Association will continue to urge our 3 million members to contact their senators to ask them to vote NO on Gorsuch’s nomination. We will continue to speak up and ask the very tough questions because our students deserve to know if their rights will be respected by someone who hopes to be a Supreme Court justice.”
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.
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.
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.