On November 3, voters went to the polls to turn things around in
our country and in our state. Or rather, many went to the polls,
but many more had already cast mail ballots in the days and weeks
leading up to the election, a sign of the times during a year of
“stay at home” orders.
For years, Paul da Silva, a biology teacher at the College of
Marin and a member of United Professors of Marin,
Local 1610, wondered about the lack of teachers on the
college’s Board of Trustees and tried to talk retiring professors
into running. No one took him up on it.
So when he decided in the summer of 2019 that he would retire, he
concluded, to paraphrase Mahatma Gandhi, he’d have to be the
candidate he wished to see in the world.
Dr. Jill Biden, a community college teacher, union member, and
soon to be First Lady, spoke virtually to members of the AFT and
the National Education Association, thanking them for all the
phone banking, text messaging, voter registration drives and poll
work they did to get her husband, Joe Biden, elected. AFT
President Randi Weingarten and NEA President Becky Pringle
CFT members worked so hard to put Proposition 15, also known
as Schools & Communities First, on the November ballot and over
the finish line right through the close of polling places on
But after election day, Prop 15 was trailing by about
400,000 votes with approximately 4 million votes yet to be
counted. CFT and campaign allies were optimistic and patient,
holding out hope that the measure would amass the votes needed to
The polls closed in Hawaii, the westernmost voting site in the
United States, at 1 am eastern time on November 4. At 2:28, less
than two hours later, President Trump sent out a tweet announcing
that he’d won the election.
Millions of votes had yet to be counted, especially those cast by
people voting early because of the coronavirus. But Trump
demanded that counting stop, and made false charges of election
rigging. He immediately filed suits in Pennsylvania, Michigan and
Georgia to stop the count.
Although there are many important races, Voting NO on Prop
22 is one of the most important decisions you can make on
the ballot this year. Here’s why:
Uber, Lyft and other giant gig corporations have spent
$200 million on Prop 22 in an effort to exempt
themselves from all labor laws that protect workers. We’re
talking about basic protections like a minimum wage, sick
leave, workers’ comp and unemployment insurance. These
multi-billion dollar corporations are trying to strip workers
of virtually every right we’ve fought decades to enact.
California is at an educational crossroads made dire by the
coronavirus pandemic, and Proposition 15 is an important step in
getting California back on the right track.
COVID-19 has not only ravaged the health and lives of countless
Californians — it has also ravaged state revenues, with Governor
Newsom himself acknowledging overall state revenue declines being
in the “tens of billions.”
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.
Every senior has a long personal view of U.S. history, but nearly all would agree that this presidential election will be the most important ballot they cast in their lives. The prospect of Donald Trump in the White House for four more years has ratcheted up emotions.
Over the past 40 years, disinvestment in public education has caused California to fall from one of the top states in per pupil spending to one that ranks near the bottom.
The California Schools & Local Communities Funding Act would raise up to an estimated $12 billion every year for schools and local communities by ending the unfair system that allows a fraction of the wealthiest commercial and industrial property owners to avoid paying their fair share in taxes.
As a result of our rapidly changing climate, California has
experienced the deadliest, largest, and most destructive
wildfires in its history.
In the past five years, we’ve had nine of the 20 most destructive
fires the state has ever had, including the Camp Fire in Butte in
2018, the Tubbs Fire in Napa and Sonoma in 2017, the Carr Fire in
Shasta & Trinity in 2018, and the Thomas Fire in Santa Barbara
and Ventura in 2017.
On September 11, Governor Newsom endorsed Prop 15, the
CFT-supported ballot measure that will reclaim $12 billion
annually for California schools and communities by closing
corporate property tax loopholes.
“The governor’s support of Prop 15 is critical to ensure
that this essential initiative passes and our schools have the
resources they need so that our students receive the education
they deserve,” said CFT President Jeff Freitas.
Proposition 15 is a fair and balanced reform that will reclaim
$12 billion to invest in schools and vital services for our local
When Prop 15 passes, it will close a loophole that
large corporations have used for decades to avoid paying their
fair share of property taxes. The richest 10% of corporate
properties will provide 92% of the new revenue.
The nearly 4,000 delegates at the AFT Virtual Convention
endorsed Joe Biden for president in the general election, with 90
percent voting in favor.
The decision by the AFT follows the most inclusive and extensive
presidential endorsement process in the union’s history,
conducted over many months and involving more than 300,000 AFT
members, that ultimately led the AFT Executive Council to submit
On July 1, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla
announced the 12 measures that have qualified for the November
election, along with their ballot numbers. Schools and
Communities First, the CFT’s top statewide priority in November,
will appear as Proposition 15.
Update: On June 4, Schools and Communities
officially qualified for the November 3 General Election
Last fall, when CFT began circulating petitions to qualify the
Schools and Communities First initiative, seems like a world
away. Yet on April 1, the early days of the coronavirus outbreak,
the coalition submitted 1.7 million signatures, nearly twice the
number needed to put the measure on the November ballot and the
most ever gathered in California history.
Across the state CFT local unions supported a variety of
candidates, parcel taxes, and bonds in their local communities.
With many votes still to be counted, results for many of the
races are yet to be determined.
There is some good news to report coming from local unions.
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.
For more than four decades, California corporations have evaded
their fair share of commercial property taxes, leaving our
schools with some of the most overcrowded classrooms and worst
ratios of students to counselors, librarians, and nurses in the
Schools and Communities First will close those property tax
loopholes in 1978’s Proposition 13 — without affecting homeowners
or renters — and channel more than $12 billion per year to local
schools, community colleges and other vital services.
As we knew it would be, the lead-up to the 2020 Presidential
Election is both an exciting and overwhelming time for voters. We
are bombarded with articles, polls, social media, and headlines
about the candidates.
Amid all the hype, it isn’t often that CFT members get the
opportunity to see the presidential candidates in person and hear
their perspectives on the issues we think about every day.
Proposition 13, the School Safety Bond, will appear on the March
2020 California ballot. The initiative, which bears no relation
to Prop. 13 from 1978, is the largest school facilities bond
in state history, promoting adequate and equitable school
facilities that will provide healthy, safe, and educationally
appropriate school infrastructure for our children.
California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony
Thurmond formally endorsed the Schools and Communities First
initiative on January 28 before a crowd of educators, support
staff, parents, and students on the south steps of the State
The California Schools and Local Communities Funding Act will
restore over $12 billion per year to California’s schools,
community colleges, health clinics, and other vital local
For nearly four decades, big corporations have not been paying
their fair share of commercial property taxes, leaving California
with the most overcrowded classrooms in the United States and
with some of the worst ratios of counselors, librarians, and
nurses per student.
This week, the Schools & Communities First campaign refiled the
the split roll ballot initiative with significant
improvements. The refiling is a result of organizing during
2018 that allowed the campaign to hear feedback from stakeholders
across the state on the ballot measure, and to consult with
California’s leading policy and legal experts. CFT is a key
member of the campaign coalition.
On March 22,
AFT endorsed Joe Biden for U.S. President after more than a
year of member engagement on the endorsement process — with more
than 300,000 AFT members nationwide participating in candidate
events, town halls, polls, regional conferences and other efforts
— new membership polls show strong support for Biden.
In November, CFT members will join voters around the country to
cast their ballots for the next president of the United States.
While we know that every election day is an important one, the
upcoming election will represent an historic turning point
for our country.
We not only have the opportunity to elect a president who
understands the value of public education, but one who will stand
up for the rights of working people.