Union celebrates banner year for legislative action

Through the hard work and advocacy of leaders, members, and staff, the CFT recorded one of its most successful legislative sessions ever. During the 2015-16 session, the union sent an unprecedented five CFT-sponsored bills, and helped send another three priority bills, to the governor for his signature. Gov. Brown had until September 30 to sign or veto the bills, which are listed below.

The union was also instrumental in defeating legislation that would have negatively impacted members’ working conditions and due process rights, and in securing millions of dollars in state budget appropriations.


Bargaining rehire rights for part-time faculty
SIGNED AB 1690, Medina, D-Riverside/SB 1379, Mendoza, D-Artesia, requires community college districts with no collective bargaining agreement in place for part-time faculty by January 1, 2017, to bargain with their exclusive representative over minimum standards for re-employment and job security, relying on the existing local evaluation process to create and maintain a system of seniority.

More equitable death benefit for classified employees
VETOED AB 1878, Jones-Sawyer, D-Los Angeles, ensures the death benefit given to survivors of classified employee members of CalPERS keeps pace with rising funeral costs by granting the CalPERS board authority to increase the benefit annually based on inflation. Though an amendment citing high cost removed the proposed increase, tying the benefit to the California Consumer Price Index ensures the gap between the benefit and funeral costs does not widen.

Professional development for culturally responsive instruction
, McCarty, D-Sacramento, requires the California Department of Education to identify professional development programs in culturally responsive instruction and provide links to them on its website.

Family leave for classified and community college instructors
, Campos, D-San Jose, provides classified employees (K-12 and community college) and community college faculty (full- and part-time) up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave for both new mothers and fathers. When a qualified employee has exhausted available sick leave and wants to use parental leave, he or she would receive “differential pay,” which is calculated by reducing the employee’s salary by the amount paid to a substitute. For districts with no differential pay policy, qualified employees will receive half of their normal salary.


VETOED Extend unemployment insurance to classified employees
AB 2197
, C. Garcia, D-Downey, expands unemployment insurance benefits to classified employees by removing the prohibition that prevents them from receiving benefits during summer months when schools are not in session. The bill calls for a four-year phase-in, beginning with two weeks of benefits in 2016 and reaching eight weeks in 2019.

SIGNED Establish theatre and dance credentials
SB 916
, Allen, D-Santa Monica, adds theatre and dance as authorized single-subject teaching credentials, but provides that a teacher previously issued a credential in physical education or English be authorized to teach dance and theatre, respectively.

VETOED Report office hours taught by community college part-time faculty
AB 2069
, Medina, D-Riverside, requires districts to annually report (by August 15) the number of paid office hours held by part-time faculty divided by the number held during the prior year, and post this information on their websites.

CFT secures historic state budget victories

The CFT secured millions of dollars in state budget appropriations, including funding for one of the union’s sponsored bills. Gov. Brown signed the budget bill for 2016-17, contained in Senate Bill 828 and associated trailer bills, into law on June 26.

Early childhood education funding
The CFT joined stiff opposition to the governor’s controversial Early Education Block Grant. In the end, the early childhood package maintains current funding streams, increases funding by $100 million, retains Transitional Kindergarten, increases the number of state preschool slots by 8,877 over four years and raises the standard reimbursement rate by 10 percent.

Restoration funding for City College of San Francisco
A $41.5 million appropriation requires the Board of Governors to provide the San Francisco Community College District revenue adjustments to restore apportionment revenue for five fiscal years. These adjustments are not subject to the growth cap, which allows for funding at the pre-accreditation crisis level.

Support for community schools, restorative justice 
A $27.4 million appropriation establishes the Learning Communities for School Success Program. The Department of Education will award three-year grants to fund community schools, restorative justice programs and others that advance social-emotional learning, positive behavior interventions, culturally responsive practices, and trauma-informed strategies.

Increased reimbursement for part-time faculty office hours
The community colleges will receive an additional $3.6 million mandated to fund office hours for part-time faculty, bringing the total allocation to nearly $7.2 million in 2016-17. The state will reimburse districts up to one-half the expenditure.

Budget includes union-supported teacher recruitment bills

A topic of major debate in the Legislature was the severe teacher shortage. With K-12 districts needing to hire between 60,000 and 135,000 new teachers in the coming years, four recruitment bills were signed into law, including CFT-sponsored AB 2122.

Financial assistance for classified employees to become teachers
 An appropriation of $20 million over five years funds CFT-sponsored AB 2122, McCarty, D-Sacramento, and creates the California Classified School Employee Teacher Credentialing Program which offers grants to districts and county offices of education to provide up to $4,000 annually to classified employees seeking a bachelor’s degree and teaching credential. This new law aims to increase the number of applicants to credentialing programs.

Incentives to expand four-year credentialing programs
AB 1756
, Bonilla, D-Concord, authorizes postsecondary institutions to offer a four- or five-year integrated program of professional preparation to allow students to earn a bachelor’s degree and preliminary multiple- or single-subject teaching credential, or an educational specialist instruction credential authorizing the holder to teach special education.

Reestablish the California Center on Teaching Careers
SB 915
, Liu, D-La Cañada Flintridge, provides $5 million to reestablish the CalTEACH program, distribute marketing materials, and provide qualified individuals information on obtaining a credential and financial aid.

Streamline out-of-state credentialing for ELL teachers
AB 2248
, Holden, D-Pasadena, provides greater reciprocity with other states and streamlines the credentialing process for out-of-state teachers of English Language Learners by reducing additional testing and coursework for individuals with at least two years of service and satisfactory evaluations.

— Legislative reporting by Ron Rapp, CFT Legislative Director