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Schools our students deserve… More than 250 parents, teachers, school staff, students, and community members attended the “Schools Our Children Deserve” conference at Skyline College on March 19 to hold a four-hour conversation about what should be happening in North San Mateo County public schools.

“We all have the same goal,” said Jefferson Elementary Federation President Melinda Dart, “and that is to give our students the tools they need to succeed.”

Attendees heard Jeff Duncan-Andrade, a San Francisco State Ethnic Studies professor and social justice activist who inspired last year’s CFT Convention. Local political leaders present included state Senator Jerry Hill, county Superintendent of Schools Anne Campbell, and county Supervisor David Pine.

Former Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, a faculty member in the San Mateo Community College District, opened the event. CFT President Joshua Pechthalt closed the program.

In addition to CFT, the sponsoring locals were the Jefferson Elementary Federation, the Jefferson Federation, and the San Mateo Community College Federation.

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Working together… Two local unions with exemplary labor-management relationships are featured prominently in a new book, The Courage to Collaborate: The Case for Labor-Management Partnerships in Education by Ken Futernick, a school turnaround expert and keynote speaker at CFT professional conferences.

In the book, Futernick makes the case that collaboration between school management and teacher unions is a necessary condition for educational improvement.

“Futernick’s book outlines a very different and very real reform movement,” said David Mielke, president of the Culver City Federation of Teachers, whose local is featured in the book along with the Cerritos-based ABC Federation of Teachers. “Instead of the old ‘the unions are the barrier to reform’ narrative, Futernick focuses on school districts who see the teachers and their unions not as the problem, but as an integral part of the solution.”
Drawing on new research and the experience of dozens of district and union leaders, Futernick cites evidence showing that working together often leads to better outcomes for students, and identifies obstacles such as resistance to change, myths about what collaboration really means, skepticism about unions, lack of technical support, and misguided education policy.

“As the title suggests, courage is needed for both sides to take this leap of faith,” concluded Mielke. “As we say here in my district, ‘Success for all, takes us all.’”

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Members elected… Two members elected in November bring the much-needed voice of educators to district governing boards.
Steve McDougall, a social studies teacher at Salinas High School and former president of the Salinas Valley Federation of Teachers, joined the Spreckels Union School District Board of Education. McDougall is also northern vice president of the CFT EC/TK-12 Council and a delegate to the Monterey Bay Central Labor Council.

Andra Hoffman, who teaches California government at Glendale College and is a member of the Glendale College Guild, was elected to the Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees, which oversees the nine-campus district.