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.

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Article Student debt

Governor signs union-sponsored Student Borrower Bill of Rights
Sweeping legislation to protect student loan borrowers

Governor Newsom signed CFT co-sponsored AB 376, the Student Borrower Bill of Rights, on Friday, September 25. This critical piece of legislation will bring much-needed reforms to the student loan market and regulate the private sector companies that service both federal and private student loans for California borrowers.

Article Coronavirus Elections 2020

Unions are the anchor during a perfect storm
Locals navigate pandemic, reopening, wildfires, elections, social unrest

Facing the threats of COVID-19 and wildfires, local unions and districts across California are trying to figure out how school will look this semester.

• • •

Orange County was one of the first to push for in-person instruction after it had been prohibited based on the county monitoring list.  At the beginning of the summer, the members in the Newport-Mesa Federation of Teachers were pretty much evenly divided about that.

Article AFT

Q&A Carl Williams: First classified AFT vice president from California
“We are essential and this work cannot be done without us”

On September 1, Carl Williams was elected to join 39 other AFT Vice Presidents from across the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Williams joins two other vice presidents from California, a group that has included former CFT Presidents Mary Bergan and Joshua Pechthalt over the years, and now current President Jeff Freitas.

Article Coronavirus Elections 2020

Facing most difficult conditions in decades, unions meet the moment
Organizing for equity at work, home, and in communities

Strong organizing has meant workplace gains and more political power for faculty during the pandemic, with members showing up in larger than ever numbers to virtual bargaining sessions and meetings.

All this while millions, many who are out of work, struggle to meet basic needs. Food insecurity has more than doubled throughout the state, and in some counties, it’s tripled. With such widespread devastation affecting students, their families, and some members, unions are stepping up to find new ways to make a difference in their campus communities.

Article Coronavirus

New working groups align UC-AFT with nationwide racial justice efforts
Hardship fund helps members in need due to pandemic, wildfires

By Mia McIver, UC-AFT President 

Contingent teaching faculty and librarians at the University of California recently voted to create three new working groups to combat racism and support each other with mutual aid. With the firm conviction that Black Lives Matter, UC-AFT members aim to align our union’s efforts with those of activists fighting for racial justice nationwide.

Article Coronavirus Retiree chapters Elections 2020

Retirees mobilize for most important election in their lives
The threat to our social norms is “mind boggling”

Every senior has a long personal view of U.S. history, but nearly all would agree that this presidential election will be the most important ballot they cast in their lives. The prospect of Donald Trump in the White House for four more years has ratcheted up emotions.

“The threat to our Constitution, to our institutions, and to our social norms is mind boggling,” said Dennis Cox of the CFT Council of Retired Members.

Article Environment Wildfires

Unions step up to help wildfire evacuees
Wildfires threaten member homes and lives

Fires in California, many started by lightning, have burned a little more than a million acres, and scores of people have lost homes and thousands more have been forced to evacuate, including CFT members. The fires, some of the largest in the state’s history are burning in areas including Lake, Napa, Santa Cruz, San Mateo, Solano, Sonoma, and Yolo counties.

“Let’s have our voices count!” urge CFT Black leaders
Avalanche of protests call for racial justice following murder of George Floyd

For days, hundreds of thousands of people have filled the streets of 160 cities across the country, even during the coronavirus pandemic, expressing their outrage and grief at the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Two Black leaders of the CFT, with long histories of fighting for racial equity, say they could not help being profoundly moved by the murder itself, and the outpouring of rage in response.

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.