Newsroom

Janine LugoUESF's Sean Nunsley-Wills and CFT Vice President Anthony ArinwineGilroy Federation officers with CFT President Jeff FreitasCindy EscarenoJanine Lugo

The new normal for special education instructional aides
‘‘SpEd IAs’’ face student pandemic trauma, larger classes, and low pay

California schools have returned to in-person learning, but acute staff shortages are hobbling the return. The hardest positions to fill are often special education instructional aides.

For “SpEd IAs,” as they are known from early childhood programs to post-secondary classrooms, there is no “social distance” with their students. Assignments may require feeding children, changing diapers, and handling medical equipment. Emotional outbursts can also be physically punishing to paraeducators.

Article staff shortage coronavirus AFT
CCE President Carl Williams

AFT task force tackles national staff shortages in education
CFT seeks to set minimum salaries and hourly pay

COVID didn’t create the national staffing crisis we face, but the pandemic has stretched classified and certificated members so thin that some schools have been forced to shut their doors.

AFT has stepped up to the challenge and created an Education Staffing Crisis Task Force co-chaired by Carl Williams, head of the CFT Council of Classified Employees and an AFT Vice President, and Michael Mulgrew, leader of AFT’s largest local union, New York City’s United Federation of Teachers.

equity scales

CFT equity bill ensures staff paid during personnel investigations
Union urges expansion of Summer Assistance Program to community colleges

“Fighting an unfair firing can be a lengthy process,” said Tina Solórzano Fletcher of San Diego’s AFT Guild, Local 1931, which represents faculty and staff at local community colleges. “Our certificated members who appeal a termination continue to receive compensation. Our classified employees should also.”

Article State Council resolutions
California Attorney General Rob BontaCFT President Jeff Freitas talked about the union's priorities.CFT Senior Vice President Lacy BarnesSteve McDougall, Salinas Valley Federation of TeachersTobin KellerKelly MayhewIngrid GunnellBea HerreraKelsey Iino

State Council inspired by Attorney General Rob Bonta, passes six resolutions
Recruiting more education workers, healthcare for part-time faculty, climate justice top agenda

California Attorney General Rob Bonta kicked off the State Council meeting on Saturday morning. After an introduction by CFT President Jeff Freitas who talked about Bonta’s commitment to going after people who use their power to harm others, demanding corporate accountability, and fighting for public education, Bonta came on stage.

He talked about how the encouragement and support of staff, coaches and teachers had made it possible for him to go to college and then to law school.

Article racial justice Leadership Conference
Bill PritchettOne on one discussions during workshopOne on one discussions during workshopOne on one discussions during workshop

Dismantling male supremacy and white supremacy
Workshop takes a deep dive into building healthy workplace cultures

Bill Pritchett, a specialist in racial justice, communications, and leadership development, and who guided CFT’s Racial Equity Task Force, began his workshop on “Dismantling the Intersections of Male Supremacy Culture and White Supremacy Culture in Our Workplaces” (whew, tall order) by talking about how impressed he is with CFT’s commitment to racial justice.

Sandra GuzmanBelinda BlumImmigration attorney Leis Rodriguez

Members support and mentor undocumented students
Dedicated educators help students succeed and thrive

For Belinda Lum, sociology professor at Sacramento City College and chief negotiator for the Los Rios College Federation of Teachers, it was because she’s the granddaughter and great-granddaughter of people who came over from China with fake papers. For Leis Rodriguez, it was wanting to use her law school degree for her passion and becoming an immigration attorney.

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.