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.
The California Public Employees’ Retirement System, CalPERS, recently rattled the cages of the for-profit prison industry by divesting nearly $10 million of stock in the country’s two biggest private jailers.
The August sell-off came on the heels of the California State Teachers Retirement System, CalSTRS, dropping its $12 million investment in GEO Group and CoreCivic (formerly known as the Corrections Corporation of America).
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.
Duplicating existing programs. Diverting taxpayer resources. Recruiting students from other districts. Not meeting critical deadlines. Lack of input from faculty stakeholders. Lack of transparency.
These are some of the reasons leaders from the CFT’s Community College Council strongly oppose the state’s new all online community college, now doing business as “Calbright,” which they say was created to fill a need that doesn’t exist.
By Mia McIver, President UC-AFT
On May 16, the 24,000 workers of AFSCME 3299, the University of California’s largest employee union, conducted their fourth strike of the 2018-19 academic year.
A recent video that went viral on social media showed a bus driver being attacked by angry parents in St. Louis. Bernard Benson knows how parents can lose their tempers. He has been driving school buses in the San Joaquin Valley for six years.
“A detour makes a driver late and parents get mad because of the delay. It happens all the time. It goes with the territory,” he said, adding, “Most of the time we’re looked at like the good guys because we get kids to and from school.”
WATCH THE VIDEO: Nancy MacLean
WATCH THE VIDEO: Aryana Fields performs “Strike Song”
When future historians look back on this period, Donald Trump and his presidency will be seen as a sideshow while a slow attempted takeover of our core branches of government is underway.
This past year has been at times demoralizing, frightening, offensive and challenging. Yet through it all shines a ray of hope that something may be changing. In spite of all the administration’s bombastic rhetoric, or because of it, there seems to be broad opposition to Trump’s policies and growing clamor for something different.
By Jeffery M. Freitas, CFT Secretary Treasurer
In October I accompanied AFT President Randi Weingarten and several fellow AFT union leaders on a fact-finding trip to Sweden and Norway. The purpose of the trip was to examine firsthand the approaches taken by the countries to inform our own approach to public education.
At first glance, Sweden and Norway seem nearly identical. Both countries have low levels of income inequality. They fund their schools well and it shows. They both have high rates of union membership and participation. And they both have a relatively high rate of electoral participation.
Friday, Cesar Chavez Day, the first day of the CFT Convention, Art Pulaski of the California Labor Federation promised the delegates that he will make sure other unions — the plumbers, carpenters, and building trades — back up the CFT in their fight against charter schools and privatization. Then he got them fired up for the march in support of immigrant rights.
By Joshua Pechthalt, CFT President
The CFT completed its 75th Convention and Jeff Freitas and I were honored to be re-elected by delegates to lead this great, progressive union. A new Executive Council was also elected, a diverse group of local leaders that will help guide this organization in the difficult period ahead.
As the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee of the U.S. Senate voted to advance the nomination of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education to the full Senate along party lines this morning, hundreds of Bay Area parents, teachers, and students came together at a noon rally and press conference in front of the Federal Building in Oakland to denounce her nomination.
The CFT is boycotting office supply retailer Staples at the request of the American Postal Workers Union, which is opposing a no-bid sweetheart deal between the U.S. Postal Service and the giant office supply retailer to operate postal counters in Staples stores. An estimated one-third of Staples’ revenues come from the sale of school supplies, many purchased by teachers and other school employees for classrooms.
By Joshua Pechthalt, CFT President
As part of AFT’s ongoing effort to build alliances with educators and trade unionists around the world, President Randi Weingarten led an AFT delegation in May to meet education union leaders and other unionists in Brazil, Argentina and Chile. I joined them as we looked at their multi-year effort to defend and expand public education, and to develop a response to attacks.
This year, there were many reminders of the role that educators play in the lives of America’s children.
Diane Ravitch and Pasi Sahlberg spoke at events hosted by United Educators of San Francisco and co-sponsored by CFT and CTA
By George Martinez, President EC/K-12 Council
Do you remember the Excellence in Education movement, along with the Time on Task idea, and the Assertive Discipline model? These efforts to bring about educational reform followed the publication of A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Education Reform in 1983 by the National Commission on Excellence in Education. This report popularized many of the privatization notions regarding public education. I refer to this as Phase 1 of the movement to privatize public education.