PreK-12 Articles

Overview

PreK-12

News for educators and support staff working in early childhood through high school.

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 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

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.

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
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
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
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

The pandemic — reopening, regrouping, testing and protecting
K-12 locals put safety first, find communities on their side

The week after Thanksgiving, Mariah Fisher, president of the Novato Federation of Teachers and a middle school drama teacher, said she was ready to go back to in-person teaching, starting that week. She had marked off six feet of space between all the desks and she was preparing to teach acting to students wearing masks.

Article coronavirus Elections 2020 wildfires

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 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.

Article coronavirus distance learning

Dedication to students helps teachers make huge shift online 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.

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 charter schools

Grassroots effort leads to historic charter school reform

Updated October 3, 2019

On Thursday, October 3, Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 1505, a historic charter school reform bill that is essential to ensuring charter schools are accountable to local communities and all California students. The new law follows months of incredible organizing and weeks of intense negotiations, during which CFT leaders, members, and staff have stood with fellow educators, school workers, parents, and students to push for reform.

Article charter schools

State Charter School Task Force makes recommendations
Superintendent of Pubic Instruction releases much-anticipated report

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond released the much-anticipated Charter Task Force Report on June 7, ahead of the July 1 deadline.

The report’s central focus is twofold: the fiscal impact that charter schools have on traditional public schools and the inconsistencies in how charter schools are authorized throughout the state. Recommendations were made to alleviate concerns in these areas and provide specific ways to address fiscal impact and authorization challenges.

Article charter schools

CFT members advocate for charter reform bills in Sacramento

Urge your Assembly & Senate representatives to support AB 1505, 1506  and 1507!

On April 10, over 80 CFT members took part in a successful Legislative Day of Action in Sacramento. Educators and classified professionals from throughout the state gathered at the capitol to push for more accountability for charter schools and full funding for public education. And despite aggressive tactics by charter backers, we were successful in moving several important bills through the Assembly Education Committee.