Topic: Education Issues

Article Up Front staff shortage

We are united for education and justice
Back-to-School tour and opinion poll provide strong foundation for strategic planning

By Jeffery M. Freitas, CFT President

Another school year has started. As an educator, August and September have traditionally been the time when I set New Year’s resolutions for the coming academic year. It starts me off on a positive note to identify my goals, my priorities, and the areas in which I want to learn and grow.

I think about our work at CFT in much the same way, and just like when I was teaching, beginning a new school year as an organization is not just the work of one person. Setting goals for the CFT is not just the work of leaders or the Executive Council. Rather it demands real-time feedback from our membership so that we, as a statewide union, can respond to the issues members identify as top priorities. To do that important work, we have undertaken a number of projects to listen to members and respond to what we have heard.

Article staff shortage coronavirus AFT
Yajaira J. CuapioYajaira J. CuapioDeborah RobledoCharles LoneroRay Gaer

In our voices: The state of our schools, workers, and students
Educators report staff shortages, mental health issues are ubiquitous

Yajaira J. Cuapio has been a social worker in the San Francisco Unified School District for eight years. With the pandemic, she says the last couple of years have been challenging.

“Students have been isolated for so long that it’s having an impact on their social skills. They’re arguing and fighting, and it leads to unsafe interactions,” she said. “Then academically there have been disruptions. For one thing, a positive COVID case would cause students to have to quarantine for 10 days, and if they’re out that long, truancy is established.”

Article staff shortage affordability crisis
Alex Daria, special education instructional assistantAlex Daria, special education instructional assistantRobbie RockMonica CaseyShirley Cruz

How does a district build a village for teachers and staff?
Innovative, affordable, and comfortable housing in Daly City welcomes new and veteran employees

The Jefferson Union High School District knew it had a problem holding onto staff. The district was losing about 25% of its certificated and classified employees yearly, and a survey showed that many were leaving the Daly City school district because of the high cost of housing.

Article coronavirus SCFF PT campaign
San Diego student Joshua McCannJim MahlerJames McKeever

Faculty push for the face-to-face classes that students want
In-person college classes improve learning, build campus community, and lifelong connections

Joshua McCann much prefers going to campus for his San Diego Community College District classes. Now in his second year and intending to transfer to a UC and major in political science, McCann says connections on Zoom or in your Canvas inbox can’t compare to being with a person in real life.

McCann goes to campus for three out of his four classes. The other night after his philosophy class, he stayed for office hours with the teacher, and ended up having a two-hour conversation about the class with some of the other students.

Article PT campaign part-time faculty
raising the percentage of workload

Urge governor to increase workload cap for part-time faculty
Ask Governor Newsom to sign CFT-sponsored bill to raise the cap to 85%!

UPDATE: We are disappointed to report Governor Newsom vetoed AB 1856 on September 25, citing cost concerns. Find his veto message here. This action is now closed.

Please take a moment to urge Governor Newsom to sign AB 1856, which will increase the workload cap available to part-time faculty from 67% up to 85% of a full-time faculty workload in California’s community colleges.

Article student debt
President Biden making student debt cancellation announcementcutting the ball and chain of student debt

What does Biden’s cancellation of student debt mean?
Understand the changes; pandemic pause for repayment pushed back four months

The AFT and CFT applauded President Biden’s plan announce August 24 to cancel up to $20,000 in student debt for some borrowers and extend the pandemic pause on loan repayment. 

AFT President Randi Weingarten in a press release said, “Today, millions of Americans can breathe easier knowing that some of the crushing burden of student loan debt has been lifted. Make no mistake—this is a transformative action that will change countless lives.”

Article coronavirus labor solidarity

Anatomy of a victory: Teachers stand up, insist upon being valued
How the ABC Federation’s work-to-rule campaign succeeded

Ruben Mancillas, chief negotiator for ABC Federation of Teachers, was pleased about getting a 5% raise for teachers in their latest contract, which he says is the single largest increase since the recession. But it’s not only the raise that pleased him.

Local 2317 was headed towards a strike for the first time in three decades, after uncharacteristically tough negotiations with a new school board in place. Instead of a strike, ABC did a work-to-rule campaign, asking teachers to only do what was specified in their contract.

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.

Part-timers and allies lobby legislators for healthcare, pay parity
PHOTO GALLERY
Students and full-time faculty join forces with part-time faculty

From the Bay Area to San Diego, and from the Central Valley to the Mojave Desert, part-time community college faculty, along with full-time faculty and student allies, gathered at Sacramento’s famed Sutter Club on Monday morning, May 1, to go forth and make California legislators aware of the critical need for part-time faculty healthcare and pay parity.

Article part-time faculty PT campaign

Part-Time Faculty Conference empowers through learning
PHOTO GALLERY
Workshops focus on bargaining, lobbying, organizing, diversity, communications

When it comes to union work, power and knowledge work hand in hand. Union is not simply about expressing demands, speaking truth to power, and being resolute in the face of adversity. It’s about making connections, sharing truths, building solidarity, empowering, and speaking to be heard.

Developing the knowledge to do these things and putting the power of that knowledge to use was core to the workshops at the CFT Part-Time Faculty Conference held May 1-2 in Sacramento.

Article coronavirus Classified Conference
conference group shot

Trades workers, custodians ready for increasingly dangerous workplaces
PHOTO GALLERY
CFT conference tackles tough issues of coronavirus, toxic chemicals, climate change, active shooters

Dozens of classified members from locals up and down California recently met at Compton College for the first Custodial and Skilled Trades Conference hosted by the CFT Council of Classified Employees.

“We have talked about this for years, and put it off for two years because of COVID, but here we are,” said a buoyant CCE President Carl Williams.

Article part-time faculty PT campaign
conference group shot

Part-time faculty power up for change
PHOTO GALLERY
Conference spotlights CFT equity campaign for contingent faculty

A crowd of more than 100 members strong — some seasoned part-timers with decades of experience, others new adjuncts for which this was their first union event — were engaged as the CFT Part-Time Faculty Conference opened to roars and cheers with its theme of “Equity for Contingent Faculty.” The feeling one had as a part-timer was best summed up by Lin Chan, co-chair of the CFT Part-Time Faculty Committee, “You’re not one person…you’re one of thousands.”

Article part-time faculty PT campaign
CFT Part-Time Faculty Survey Report 2022

Groundbreaking CFT survey calls out healthcare crisis among part-time faculty
Critical insights into part-time faculty in community colleges statewide

The results of CFT’s groundbreaking statewide survey of part-time faculty offer critical insights into the daily, personal, and structural challenges that part-time and contingent faculty experience when it comes to healthcare.  

Article coronavirus part-time faculty SCFF
AdFac President Seija RohkeaBarbara Baer

Continued enrollment woes create challenges for part-time faculty
Local unions finding solutions in pandemic-driven tough times

While California is showing strong signs of emerging from an economy ravaged by the pandemic, the community colleges are still reeling from the impact, most strongly demonstrated in the sharp decline in student enrollment. This has led to tough situations for many adjuncts, and for the local unions representing them.

Article part-time faculty
HELU Winter SummittHigher Ed Labor United logo

HELU Winter Summit unites efforts across unions
Promotes socio-economic and racial justice in higher education

HELU, or Higher Education Labor United, a cross-union and cross-sector coalition, held its Winter Summit virtually on February 23-27, pushing forward with the larger goals of reclaiming the promise of higher education, and promoting socio-economic and racial justice embodied by the New Deal for Higher Education campaign and Scholars for a New Deal in Higher Education.

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 staff shortage coronavirus AFT
CCE President Carl Williams

AFT task force tackles national staff shortages in education
CFT seeks to set minimum salaries and hourly pay

COVID didn’t create the national staffing crisis we face, but the pandemic has stretched classified and certificated members so thin that some schools have been forced to shut their doors.

AFT has stepped up to the challenge and created an Education Staffing Crisis Task Force co-chaired by Carl Williams, head of the CFT Council of Classified Employees and an AFT Vice President, and Michael Mulgrew, leader of AFT’s largest local union, New York City’s United Federation of Teachers.

Article Leadership Conference racial justice SPI AFT
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond nd with membersState Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony ThurmondndCFT Secretary Treasurer Luukia SmithAFT President Randi Weingarten zoomed in from the strike lines in Minneapolis.JEDI Organizer Cynthia Eaton

Leadership Conference focuses on racial and social justice
Thurmond, Weingarten address delegates

About 200 CFT members from around the state converged at San Francisco’s Hyatt Regency for a Leadership Conference — the first time they’d been able to join together for such an event since the state shut down for COVID on March 13, 2020.

Seeming excited to see one another in person, attendees went to workshops, many dealing with racial and social justice issues, and heard from speakers including JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion) Organizer Cynthia Eaton, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, and AFT President Randi Weingarten.

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.