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 digital magazine contains union news 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 Communications Director Matthew Hardy: mhardy@cft.org

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Article racial justice Leadership Conference
Lena AckermanBethany Gizzi

How implicit bias can lead to injustice
Members explore implicit bias and its effects

Implicit bias can lead to injustice in many areas of our lives, including housing, education, employment, the courts, and healthcare. We all have implicit biases — or preferences and attitudes that subconsciously can affect how we interact with others, said Bethany Gizzi, and Lena Ackerman, trainers in the “Understanding Implicit Bias and Stereotypes” workshop at the CFT Leadership Conference held March 17-18.

Article Leadership Conference racial justice SPI AFT
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond nd with membersState Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony ThurmondndCFT Secretary Treasurer Luukia SmithAFT President Randi Weingarten zoomed in from the strike lines in Minneapolis.JEDI Organizer Cynthia Eaton

Leadership Conference focuses on racial and social justice
Thurmond, Weingarten address delegates

About 200 CFT members from around the state converged at San Francisco’s Hyatt Regency for a Leadership Conference — the first time they’d been able to join together for such an event since the state shut down for COVID on March 13, 2020.

Seeming excited to see one another in person, attendees went to workshops, many dealing with racial and social justice issues, and heard from speakers including JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion) Organizer Cynthia Eaton, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, and AFT President Randi Weingarten.

Article Up Front racial justice LGBTQ+

Stand up to defend free thought, honest history, and gender identity
Right-wing targets schools and colleges across the nation

By Jeffery M. Freitas, CFT President

When I decided to become a teacher, I was focused on helping students and meeting them where they are. I became a mathematics teacher — slopes, quadratic equations, fractions, square roots and all. But I entered into the profession because I was interested in who my students are as people, not just in class. I wanted to understand their hopes and dreams and help them become the people they wanted to be.

Article special education staff shortage
Heather Molloy in her classroom with globe behind herMarcela Chagoya in classroom

Pandemic magnifies long-standing challenges in special education
CFT Special Ed Summit motivates members to take bold action

This is Heather Molloy’s first year on CFT’s Special Education Services Committee. She says she feels grateful to be part of it and thinks in a short period of time, the committee has accomplished a lot.

Molloy, a high school teacher and member of Oxnard Federation of Teachers and School Employees, is referring to the EC/TK-12 Council’s Special Education Summit in February where members wrote a resolution to change the state’s Education Code, which she thinks desperately needs updating.

Article staff shortage
Palomar classified leaders with CCE leaderslarge group of Berkeley classified employees with CCE leadersCCE President Carl Williams talks to Palomar membersPalomar members at table with swag

Classified leaders hit the road to meet locals
Listening tour leads to greater understanding, solidarity

After more than a year of Delta and Omicron surges and other COVID-19 pandemic obstacles, officers of the CFT Council of Classified Employees embarked on a statewide listening tour of AFT local unions representing classified employees.

“There will never be a perfect time, so we just hit the road,” said CCE President Carl Williams. “Our members have heard what we have to say. Now they want to be heard.”

Article retiree chapters
Retirees comb the local filesRetiree Chapter President Ann KillebrewLocal President Malaika Finkelstein at a white boardretirees walking on San Francisco Bay

Elders Speak! project preserves union history for future generations
AFT Local 2121 marks 50th anniversary with oral history

By Bill Shields

Janitors organize live onstage, in multiple languages. A domestic worker ponders the meaning of life as she mimes ironing clothes. Dancing hotel workers tell how they won a good contract. These stories emerged from an oral history project called Work Tales produced by the Labor and Community Studies Department at City College of San Francisco. I spent 25 years teaching in this department.

Article Elections 2022 endorsements SPI
Primary Election in red, white and blue

CFT endorses Gavin Newsom, Tony Thurmond for June 7 primary
Find union endorsements for the statewide Primary Election

With the June 7 Statewide Primary Election fast approaching, the 2022 election season is fully underway. CFT has been preparing by conducting candidate interviews for the state’s top offices and legislative districts around the state. All statewide constitutional offices will be on the ballot, and CFT has endorsed a candidate for each seat.

Article

Why is Trouble in the Henhouse our  #1 bestselling curricula?
Curricula Review

Trouble in the Hen House

Trouble in the Henhouse
By Phyllis Chiu
Illustrated by Jos Sances
2002, 22 pp
Grades: K-5

By Bill Morgan

One of the real classics of social justice books for kids was written by our own Phyllis Chiu, who was at the time an elementary teacher in Los Angeles. Chiu was also a member of the CFT Labor in the Schools Committee, which has produced a bumper crop of labor (and now climate justice) materials for progressive-minded teachers to use with their classes. The name of Chiu’s booklet is Trouble in the Henhouse, and among all of the committee’s publications, it is the #1 bestseller.

UC lecturers’ victory inspires broad movement for equity across higher education
CFT wages a campaign for part-time faculty in the community colleges  

By Jeffery M. Freitas, CFT President

For about three years the University Council-AFT engaged in protracted negotiations on behalf of lecturers in their unit. Their aims have always been about fairness — better working conditions for lecturers and improved learning conditions for students. Their fight has been about not only winning economic and contractual gains for members, but gaining professional respect and recognition for their teaching at the University of California. Their campaign has been a true member-driven effort, rooted in years of organizing by the statewide local that represents both continuing lecturers and librarians, led by their president, Mia McIver, and a committed negotiations team. 

Sarah Auwarter, president of the Newport-Mesa FederationSkylar Petersen, president of the Lompoc FederationJuan Ramirez with CFT President Jeff Freitas

Overwork, underpayment, burn out and blame, lead to staff shortages
Unions speak to pandemic-driven shortage of teachers, subs, paras, classified

For years, California elementary and secondary schools have had teacher shortages, particularly in areas of special education, math, and science, but it’s grown worse since the pandemic started, with fewer teacher candidates getting credentials, and 26% more teachers retiring in 2020 than the year before.

Article student debt
Jessica Saint-Paul at work Peter Huk is a lecturer of writing at UC Santa Barbara Kristi Jacobson at her classroom door

What does gratitude look like? Find out from three members deep in student debt
How AFT’s legal victory with the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program will change lives

In 2018, Jessica Saint-Paul, who has a doctorate in medical science and teaches public health and health occupation courses at Southwest and Trade Tech colleges, attended a benefits conference put on by her local, the Los Angeles College Faculty Guild. They covered Public Service Loan Forgiveness, a federal program that promised if you worked in public service for 10 years and made 120 payments, the remainder of your loan would be forgiven.

Article union communications

CFT wins top awards in national labor media competition
Federation lands 11 awards for communications in 2020

In a friendly competition with state and regional labor groups around the nation, the CFT won 11 awards from the International Labor Communications Association.

The awards show that content is still king. The CFT website won First Place in “best electronic content” for the third year in a row. Seven member-based stories won awards, with four claiming First Place honors.

Article
For All Para Todos book cover

Teaching social justice and labor history: A how-to for K-12 educators
Kids' Book Reviews

Reviews by Bill Morgan

It used to be hard to find quality non-fiction, especially history, for kids. It was dumbed-down, or poorly formatted, or biased, or written in dry adultese, or some combination of these. Thankfully, that has changed.

A new generation of high-interest, attractively packaged kids’ books dealing with social justice issues and using leveled vocabulary are now available. This is a group of some of the best recent ones that I have used in my years teaching social studies for social justice.

Article coronavirus Up Front staff shortage

Back-to-School Tour puts staff shortage in stark perspective
Dedication and inspired work of our members must be recognized

By Jeffery M. Freitas, CFT President

In early August, Luukia Smith, Lacy Barnes, and I ventured up and down the state on a three week Back-to-School, Forward Together Tour. We visited with early childhood educators, TK-12 teachers, classified workers, adult education teachers, and part-time community college faculty. We witnessed firsthand students learning in-person. We saw the incredible school communities our members have helped to build and visited campuses and classrooms to see CFT members in action.

Article coronavirus
masked teacher with masked students

Answers to common questions about return to in-person 
FAQ for teachers and support staff in TK-12 schools

Now that California schools have returned to in-person classes, teachers and staff on campuses up and down the state are having to navigate a new phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. In mid-August, the CFT held a tele-townhall meeting to connect directly with members and hear about your workplace concerns. Below are answers to the most common questions we heard from you.

Article community schools restorative justice
School building image with the words "Every community is different. What will yours be like?"

CFT launches community schools training program
Governor Newsom funds innovative schools at highest level in nation

The CFT has launched a training program following Governor Newsom’s extraordinary allocation of $2.8 billion to expand existing community schools and establish new ones.

According to CFT President Jeff Freitas, “This is a national effort, and California now has the largest amount of funding in the nation for community schools. These funds will assist nearly 1,000 community schools in our state.”

Article coronavirus
Classified employee members of the Lawndale Federation around a union bannerGilroy members with CFT President Jeff FreitasCFT President  with members at East Los Angeles College

Classified members feel the love during Back-to-School Tour
CFT leaders provide encouragement, support for safe working conditions

CFT’s top officers embarked on a statewide Back-to-School Tour in mid-August as many classified employees and teachers headed back to campus in-person for the first time since the pandemic forced distance learning for California schools and colleges. The road trip included stops from North Bay Counties to San Diego County, in both urban and rural districts.

Article coronavirus
students waiting for outside class "Engines, Fuel and Ignition"  to beginclassroom with new HEPA filterJason Newman, president of the Los Rios College Federation of Teachers

What’s on everyone’s mind? The return to in-person
From urban to rural, community college locals weigh in

Most faculty members, staff, and students at the state’s community colleges have been teaching, learning, and working online for more than a year and a half due to COVID-19. Many planned to go back to their campus in the fall semester, but after a brief period of hope that the virus was on the way out the delta variant emerged in the summer, and in many areas, COVID is surging again.

Article lecturers coronavirus

Back to the classroom, but no contract
Facing inequity, lack of COVID protections, 96% of UC-AFT members vote to authorize strike

As they have for the past two years, lecturers at the University of California continue their effort to get the administration to bargain a fair contract. The last agreement between the university and the University Council-AFT, expired on January 31, 2020. The union’s negotiating committee has met with UC’s bargaining team on 50 occasions, yet the four most fundamental issues are still outstanding — high turnover rates, lack of performance reviews, widespread uncompensated labor, and compensation itself.

Article retiree chapters
Kate Disney, president of the West Valley-Mission Federation of TeachersWhen You Retire booklet cover

You can help start an AFT retiree chapter!
Retiree division sets sights on organizing more chapters

For most of her career, Kate Disney taught engineering at Mission College in the Silicon Valley city of Santa Clara. Disney learned the ins and outs of the West Valley-Mission Federation of Teachers contract when she became a union rep in 2017. She was elected president of the local in 2019.

“You learn about different sections of a contract as you go through different phases of your life and career,” she said. “Certain portions are more important at different ages.”

Article resolutions
The memorial to Armenian Genocide in Yerevan, ArmeniaPeople in New York gather around 100th anniversary memorial to Armenian Genocide in 2015

CFT resolution recognizes Armenian Genocide
Find classroom resources to teach about the genocide

During World War I, the Ottoman Turks carried out one of the largest genocides in the world’s history, massacring 1.5 million Armenians. Turkey continues to deny the genocide, but the U.S. Congress passed a resolution to recognize it in 2019.

This spring United Teachers Los Angeles, in conjunction with the CFT Civil, Human, and Women’s Rights Committee, brought a resolution before CFT Convention calling for the state federation to formally recognize the Armenian Genocide and commit to sharing resources for teaching about it in the classroom. The Executive Council passed the resolution on June 12.

Article coronavirus Up Front

Looking forward to life, work, and union without COVID
Embracing opportunities the pandemic has brought forward

By Jeffery M. Freitas, CFT President

The last year and a half of my communications with you have told the story of the COVID-19 pandemic, our union’s early responses to the changes wrought by the virus, our diligence in keeping school communities healthy and safe, and the first glimmers of hope as vaccines became available and community spread began to decline.