Funding in limbo… The last few years have been a terrible time in the adult education world, according to Jack Carroll, the executive director at the Pajaro Valley Federation of Teachers. Carroll, who teaches office skills to adults, hopes AB86 will alleviate that by providing $25 million for adult education.
“We’ve been in kind of a suspension for the last two years with no state funding,” he said. “Everyone thinks the new state budget will have money for adult ed.”
Kathy Jasper, president of the San Jose Federation of Teachers, and like Carroll, a member of the CFT Adult Education Commission, sure hopes so.
“We’ve cut our program by 10 percent and cut teachers by 20 percent,” she said. “The budget won’t be settled till June, so they’ll lay teachers off and rehire in the summer.”
Susan Lopez, a non-credit ESL teacher from the San Francisco Community College Federation of Teachers, says the recession also hit non-credit in the colleges hard, though not as hard as K-12 adult education.
Lawmakers tasked the California Community College Chancellor’s Office and the California Department of Education to implement AB86.
Adult educators around the state formed about 70 consortia to develop regional plans. On the surface that sounds good, Carroll said.
“The goal was to get two giant institutions, community colleges and adult education, talking to each other,” Carroll said. “We didn’t get as far as anyone would want. It was more of a wish list identifying what people would do if you gave them a check. The Legislature expected plans to be in place and pumping along, and they’re disappointed. We don’t know what’s next.”
Organizing wins advances… Capping months of escalating member actions, United Teachers Los Angeles reached an agreement with L.A. Unified that resulted in a 10 percent salary increase (partially retroactive) and groundbreaking contract language on class size and counselor-student ratios. The new contract establishes class size caps, class size averages across all grades and provides $13 million for class size reduction in grades 8-9. Another $13 million increases secondary school counseling services to attain the newly established 500:1 student-to-counselor ratio. The teacher evaluation process will be streamlined.
Who you gonna call?… When Allison Leshefsky, a physical education teacher at Paul Revere Elementary, got harassing letters from a landlord trying to evict her from a rent-controlled apartment, and saw others in her building evicted, she turned to an organization she counts on — her union.
United Educators of San Francisco didn’t let her down, helping to organize a rally at City Hall protesting the harassment and evictions.
That’s why Leshefsky won her union’s Political Action Award at CFT Convention said UESF President Dennis Kelly — for using the union to solve a problem and showing a belief that the union is there for you.
Putting students first… Brandon Sportel was one of 37 teachers nationwide who won a 2015 Milken Educator Award and its $25,000 cash prize. Sportel is a special education teacher at Canalino Elementary School, where he leads the school choir, and is a member of the Carpinteria Association of United School Employees.
“I am very surprised and humbled,” Sportel said. “I thank my instructional assistants — they help me to be a better person. Our teachers here at Canalino are the most loving, caring and always put the students first.”He also praised school administrators who have “allowed me to take risks that have benefited the students.”
See more photos of the award ceremony at Canalino Elementary.