CFT United

Overview

CFT United

CFT United, previously named California Teacher, is the union’s flagship magazine that is emailed to all union members. The award-winning magazine contains union news and positions important to members, and covers major issues in each division of the CFT: PreK-12, Classified, Community College, University, and Retired. Browse stories by date here or by index.

CFT United is published regularly during the academic year. We welcome unsolicited articles, letters, and story ideas. Please send letters, submissions, or other inquiries to Publications Director Jane Hundertmark.

Sign up now to get CFT United by email! 
»Subscribe here.

Article Coronavirus Distance learning

Tightrope Walkers: Teaching and parenting at the same time
Faculty parents share stories of teaching from home during shelter-in-place

By Katharine Harer, San Mateo Community College Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 1493 

You’re teaching all your classes online, providing support to freaked-out students and dealing with a flood of emails every day, while at the same time, and often in the same room, hour after hour, your children need you to be present and available. You can’t send them to school or childcare or to the grandparents or to play at their friends’ houses. You can’t send them anywhere. Will lack of sleep, personal space and time make you trip and fall, and if so, who will catch you?

Now – yes, now – is the time for contingent faculty to organize
If we don’t fight now, we may not get another chance

By Josh Brahinsky and Roxi Power, UC-AFT Santa Cruz

When graduate-student workers at the University of California at Santa Cruz voted overwhelmingly in December to reject their statewide union contract and follow the West Virginia teachers’ model of a wildcat strike, the precarious lives of academic workers became a news story once again.

Article Coronavirus Distance learning

Dedication to students helps teachers make huge shift with grace, diligence
Distance learning demands hard work, extra hours — and good internet

Since schools closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and instruction moved online, Jessica Hoffschneider, a resource special education teacher at Soquel High, has been busy. A site representative for the Greater Santa Cruz Federation of Teachers, she spends her days trying her best to help her students with mild to moderate disabilities.

Tech support powers online classrooms behind the scenes
Classified employees make the connections and keep them strong

Computer geeks have been on the front lines of online learning since March, when school and college districts across urban and rural California closed to avoid the COVID-19 pandemic. Tech staff are the essential employees who are turning digital classrooms from a pipedream into a working educational system.

Article Retiree chapters Coronavirus

Tips for seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic
How one retiree chapter is supporting seniors during stay at home

By Susan Morgan, President, AFT Local 1931 Retiree Chapter

As a retiree chapter, one of our current challenges is to find new ways to stay connected, be supportive, and sustain our esprit de corps. The current pandemic has increased challenges for retirees, many of whom were already dealing with the social challenges of isolation and loneliness. These newly heightened mental health concerns are real, and our task is to find meaningful ways to connect with our members to support our common union values and goals.

Article Coronavirus Educational Technology

Paraeducator steps up, makes face shields for medical workers
Gilroy family applies 3-D printing skills from campus STEAM lab

By Arti O’Connor, President, Gilroy Federation of Paraeducators

Diana Torres, a paraeducator in the Gilroy Unified School District, has been instrumental in establishing the STEAM lab and program at Las Animas Elementary School. I met her several months ago and was extremely impressed when she showed me the lab — with a 3-D printer — that she uses to teach students about that form of technology.

Article Coronavirus State Budget

Uncertainty surrounds education budget for coming year
The one known — coronavirus has blown a giant hole in the state budget

The governor and the Legislature know the COVID-19 pandemic has blown a huge hole in the state budget, but they can’t easily project state revenues or the impact on Proposition 98 — the mechanism that provides K-12 schools and community colleges about 40 percent of the state’s General Fund.

Article Coronavirus Immigration DACA

Undocumented students more vulnerable than ever during pandemic
How faculty can make a difference

By Jessica Silver-Sharp, San Mateo Community College Federation of Teachers

When I first wrote about undocumented students in October 2017, I couldn’t have foreseen how things could change so much in less than three years. Two out of three of our campus Dream Centers in the San Mateo Community College District were established during this time when young “Dreamers” were forming a national youth movement and “coming out” across the country. Then, a majority of the hundreds of undocumented students on campus enjoyed legal protections under DACA.

Article Coronavirus Retiree chapters

Being retired in the time of Covid-19

By Dennis Cox, Southern Vice President, Council of Retired Members

AFT retirees have contributed so much to American education, and are in line for well-deserved gratitude from their students, colleagues and communities. You warrant a heartfelt thanks for what you have done, and for staying home and keeping yourselves safe during this outbreak. You are extremely valuable citizens. So, thank you to all who have served, and are now staying safely sheltered in your homes! Please continue to do all you can to stay safe.

Members collect 20,000 signatures in support of Schools & Communities First
Hitting statewide goal helped land measure on November 3 ballot

Update: On June 4, Schools and Communities First officially qualified for the November 3 General Election ballot.

Last fall, when CFT began circulating petitions to qualify the Schools and Communities First initiative, seems like a world away. Yet on April 1, the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, the coalition submitted 1.7 million signatures, nearly twice the number needed to put the measure on the November ballot and the most ever gathered in California history.

The CFT campaign to Fund our Future

By Jeffery M. Freitas, CFT President

In 2011, the CFT worked with community partners to lead the charge for a Millionaires Tax that eventually turned into Prop 30 and was then extended by Prop 55. Those funds helped stop the bleeding in K-14 education following the recession and drastic funding cuts of the mid-2000s.

Now, however, there are pressures throughout our school districts and community colleges that are preventing CFT members from getting the pay, benefits, program funding, and staffing levels our schools, colleges, and communities desperately need.

Article Lecturers

Thousands of UC lecturers mobilize for job rights, fair salaries
Academic and blue collar workforce fight back against university’s substandard pay

When Josh Brahinsky isn’t teaching “Academic Literacy and Ethos” and “Brain, Mind, and Consciousness” classes to new students at UC Santa Cruz, the lecturer is researching bio-cultural anthropology at Stanford University, teaching at San Jose State, or leading online classes at Bucks County Community College in Pennsylvania.

“UC only pays me $19,900 yearly,” Brahinsky said. “That’s not enough to live on, so I have to make up the difference somewhere else.”

Article Online College

Has Calbright lost its legislative support?
Senators take online college to task in February 13 hearing

It may have taken over two years, but the Calbright online community college has apparently lost any support it might have enjoyed in the state Legislature when the CFT first warned about the potential for failure. In December 2017, Jim Mahler, president of the CFT Community College Council, sent a seminal letter to Gov. Jerry Brown, Calbright’s main promoter, pointing out key flaws in its proposed structure.

Article Special Education

Special education in crisis
CFT SPECIAL REPORT

Marcela Chagoya, a special education teacher in Los Angeles and chair of the CFT Special Education Committee, has been teaching at the same middle school for 21 years. And she’s never seen special education in such a bad state.

“First and foremost, it’s the elimination of programs,” she said. “Districts seem to think it’s one size fits all or fits most when it comes to special ed.”

Article

Nominate your classified colleagues for national and state recognition
AFT helps in creation of new national RISE award

“Recognizing the work we do has been a long time coming,” said Carl Williams, president of the CFT Council of Classified Employees.

The “unsung heroes” of education have continued to enjoy new levels of respect since California first proclaimed Classified School Employee Week in 1969. This year’s weeklong celebration will be from May 17 to 23, but staff and paraeducators may also be recognized through a series of national, state and local awards.

Retirees are leaving their mark on 2020 elections
Seniors work on local and statewide measures

For more than four decades, California corporations have evaded their fair share of commercial property taxes, leaving our schools with some of the most overcrowded classrooms and worst ratios of students to counselors, librarians, and nurses in the nation.

Schools and Communities First will close those property tax loopholes in 1978’s Proposition 13 — without affecting homeowners or renters — and channel more than $12 billion per year to local schools, community colleges and other vital services.

Article Elections 2020

CFT members participate in Presidential Public Education Forum
Educators travel across the country to meet candidates in person

As we knew it would be, the lead-up to the 2020 Presidential Election is both an exciting and overwhelming time for voters. We are bombarded with articles, polls, social media, and headlines about the candidates.

Amid all the hype, it isn’t often that CFT members get the opportunity to see the presidential candidates in person and hear their perspectives on the issues we think about every day.

Article Elections 2020 Proposition 13

Vote YES on Prop. 13, the California school safety bond
$15 billion for new facilities and modernization

Proposition 13, the School Safety Bond, will appear on the March 2020 California ballot. The initiative, which bears no relation to Prop. 13 from 1978, is the largest school facilities bond in state history, promoting adequate and equitable school facilities that will provide healthy, safe, and educationally appropriate school infrastructure for our children.

Our bold step forward to fully fund public education
Schools and Communities First

By Jeffery M. Freitas, CFT President

When CFT received the first batch of petitions to put Schools and Communities First initiative on the ballot in late October, I immediately ripped a box open and took out a form. I eagerly signed the fresh new document to add my name in support of this historic initiative.