From the President

Article Up Front gun control

Gun violence in America — something is gravely wrong here
Let’s imagine a world free of gun violence and schools that are open, free, and welcoming

By Jeffery M. Freitas, CFT President

I taught high school math in a picturesque Southern California location with a view of the Pacific Ocean. On nice days, we used to keep the doors and windows of our classrooms open. We had no fences around our school and there were open courtyards that welcomed gatherings of students and staff alike. Much of that has disappeared. Now doors and windows must remain shut on campus and chain link fences surround the beautiful campus in case someone shows up with a weapon of war and the intent to kill.

Article Up Front community schools

Doing the work we love in the most difficult of circumstances
California is breaking down the walls other states are building

By Jeffery M. Freitas, CFT President

As educators and classified professionals, we often mark beginnings and ends with school years rather than calendar years. Each May, students leave for the summer or graduate and venture off to another stage in their lives. As these chapters open and close, it’s hard not to think about similar times in our own lives, when we moved on from a particularly beloved school or classroom, and from the school staff that made our experience so exceptional.

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.

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. 

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

See our Back-to-School tour in pictures!
Forward Together!

CFT leaders visited school communities and workplaces during a statewide two-week back-to-school tour. On the Back-to-School: Forward Together tour, CFT President Jeff Freitas, Secretary Treasurer Luukia Smith, and Senior Vice President Lacy Barnes met with educators, classified employees, students and parents to support a safe return to in-person learning. CFT leaders also shared their vision for maximizing a record state budget investment to strengthen academic achievement and student social emotional well-being.

Article coronavirus

CFT Back-to-School Tour — Forward Together
Union leaders to visit local unions throughout the state

The CFT kicked off a two-week back-to-school tour to visit school communities throughout the state. Starting on August 9, CFT President Jeff Freitas, Secretary Treasurer Luukia Smith and Senior Vice President Lacy Barnes will visit AFT local unions and schools up and down California as the new academic year begins for full in-person learning. 

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.

Article CFT Convention Up Front

State of the Union 2021
Delivered by CFT President Jeffery Freitas on March 26, 2021

Good morning, CFT. I’m thrilled to be here with all of you—my fellow CFT leaders, all my union siblings, CFT and local union staff, and invited guests.

This year’s Convention has a lot of firsts. It is my first State of the Union speech as CFT president and my first time presiding as chair of the Convention. This is the first of our biennial conventions which we approved in 2018 through a constitutional amendment by this very body. And, this is the first-ever virtual CFT Convention. While we are making the best of the current circumstances, I sincerely hope it will be the last virtual convention.

Article coronavirus Up Front

Dark times bring out our best selves

By Jeffery M. Freitas, CFT President

What a year it has been. In March, as the coronavirus hit and “shelter in place” orders were issued, CFT leaders immediately started communicating with members about the situation. We held online meetings, shared resources on our website, and hosted a CFT Member Townhall that 11,000 members joined.

Article coronavirus Up Front

The task of reopening brings challenge and hope

By Jeffery M. Freitas, CFT President

In my communications with CFT members about school closures and sheltering in place during the past two months, I have often signed off, “Stay safe and take care.” For me, that is more than a convenient turn of phrase.

As we enter into the third month of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are in the midst of a crisis unlike anything most of us have experienced in our lifetimes, and when this story is retold years from now, I have no doubt it will be recorded as a turning point in history. I know most of you are, like me, tired, stressed, and worried.

Article coronavirus Up Front

The coronavirus, the CFT, and you

By Jeffery M. Freitas, CFT President

Over the past few days, our lives have changed significantly. There have been many fast moving coronavirus-related developments.

We will continue to work with decision-makers to protect you, your students, and your communities. With the situation continuing to develop quickly, we are doing our best to stay on top of it.

We want to provide as much information to our members as possible, but we hope not to overwhelm you with too much.

Article Up Front Elections 2020 Prop 15 privatization

The CFT campaign to Fund our Future

By Jeffery M. Freitas, CFT President

In 2011, the CFT worked with community partners to lead the charge for a Millionaires Tax that eventually turned into Prop 30 and was then extended by Prop 55. Those funds helped stop the bleeding in K-14 education following the recession and drastic funding cuts of the mid-2000s.

Now, however, there are pressures throughout our school districts and community colleges that are preventing CFT members from getting the pay, benefits, program funding, and staffing levels our schools, colleges, and communities desperately need.

Article Up Front Civil Rights LGBTQ+ racial justice

Union work is social justice work

By Jeffery M. Freitas, CFT President

When I was elected CFT President in March, I said in my speech to Convention delegates: “I believe that when we fight for education, we also fight for social justice, racial justice, gender equality, LGBTQ rights, and climate justice.”

To be a social justice union, we must not only consider the complex lives of our members and the challenges they face, but look beyond the doors of the schoolhouse to consider the ways our campus communities intersect with our larger communities. When we fight for labor, we must fight for our communities, too.