PreK-12 Articles

Overview

PreK-12

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

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

Organizer pens bilingual children’s book teaching compassion, courage
Book Review

For All Para Todos book cover

Review by Bill Morgan

For All/Para Todos
By Alejandra Domenzain
Illustrated by Katherine Loh
Hard Ball Press, 53pp.

There are children’s books that take complicated concepts and tell them simply, like Octavio Chow’s The Invisible Hunters. There are books about strong, determined girls — Wilhelm Steig’s Brave Irene comes to mind. Books like Friends From the Other Side, and Click Clack Moo! speak to the immigrant experience, and to the power of writing, respectively.

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.

California Teacher strikes Local Action

Teachers never walk alone when they have union brothers and sisters
Six Days That Shook Los Angeles – Part 6, Conclusion

UTLA’s fight to save public education resonated far and wide. Messages of solidarity and selfies of fist-pumping teachers poured in from Kentucky to Canada. Union locals across Los Angeles set up support networks for more than 200 LAUSD schools. For Writers Guild members, joining teachers on picket lines was an opportunity to pay back their mentors.

California Teacher strikes Local Action

The power of parents: A new generation shows its commitment to local schools
Six Days That Shook Los Angeles - Part 5

United Teachers Los Angeles has fought for nearly 50 years to give parents a greater voice in how their children’s schools are run. In recent years, UTLA stepped up its outreach by hiring community organizers, building coalitions, and working with supporters in changing neighborhoods.

Those efforts bore fruit in January, when thousands of parents joined teachers on picket lines across the 700-square-mile school district to fight for “the schools our students deserve.”

California Teacher strikes Local Action

The UTLA strike was personal for Josh Pechthalt
Six Days That Shook Los Angeles - Part 4

Manual Arts High School has a proud 109-year history. Alumni include painter Jackson Pollock, actor Paul Winfield, and tennis champion Richard “Pancho” Gonzalez. Former teacher Josh Pechthalt was shaped by – and has helped to reshape – the South L.A. fixture.

CFT President Josh Pechthalt was a student at Fairfax High in 1970, when United Teachers Los Angeles struck for nearly a month. He later taught social studies at Manual Arts High School for more than 20 years, and was on the front lines in 1989, when UTLA struck a second time. 

California Teacher strikes Local Action

UTLA retirees link “Class of 2019” to 1989 and 1970 walkouts
Six Days That Shook Los Angeles - Part 3

During the strike, hundreds of retired L.A. teachers returned to their former schools to continue the fight for public education. One veteran of the two previous strikes said back then UTLA was up against an intransigent district, but didn’t have to face billionaires and unrestrained charter school growth.

UTLA-Retired is now mobilizing all its 4,300 members for the special election in March to fill a key seat on the LAUSD school board and tilt the balance away from a pro-charter majority.