Teachers are fighting the privatization wave by connecting with families right where they live.
by Amy B. Dean
(Re-posted here from Yes! Magazine, www.yesmagazine.org/issues/education-uprising/teachers-unions-not-just-for-teachers)
Teachers have always held a cherished role in our society—recognized as professionals who know how to inculcate a love of learning in our children. But the “education reform” movement represented by No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top blames teachers for the problems in our public schools.
“The people who seek to privatize the public sector are looking for any excuse to criticize teachers,” says Bob Peterson, veteran fifth-grade teacher and president of the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association (MTEA). “We must take responsibility for our profession. If we don’t step up to the plate, public education is going to be destroyed.”
At heart, this is a debate between competing visions of teachers’ roles in public education in America. Teachers, through their unions, are defending the idea that they are best-equipped to teach children to become lifelong learners. Education “reformers,” though, cite studies—such as one from the Goldwater Institute from 2004—that show that students at privately run charter schools outperform kids in public schools and say that public education would improve if public schools simply looked more like privately run schools. In privately run schools, teachers lack a collective voice, their working conditions are subject to the whims of school administrators, and they can be fired at will. This contrast with the empowered rank and file of unionized public school teachers could help explain the claims of “reformers” that traditional public school teachers are too sheltered, that they can’t be dismissed easily enough, and that their unions need to be eliminated. Firing and replacing teachers based on students’ scores on standardized tests, then, is part of the reformers’ vision for the schools.
Read the whole article at the link above.
And check out Yes! resources for teachers at www.yesmagazine.org/for-teachers!
Health and library services in schools improve academic performance, enable students to thrive
CFT members along with parents and community organizations are launching a legislative campaign and grassroots organizing effort for Healthy Kids, Healthy Minds. CFT is organizing in our communities for school-based health services and expanded school library hours so that our children are healthy, safe, and able to achieve their goals.
Research shows a direct link between school-based health and library services and student success. School-based health services lead to academic improvements, better attendance, reduced suspension and expulsion rates, and lower dropout rates. School libraries help bridge the digital divide, equipping students with 21st century information technology skills. And, when children have access to libraries with plenty of books and adequate staffing, they read more and do better on reading tests.
California lags far behind other states and well below recommended ratios for these critical services in schools. Our state ranks 45th in the ratio of students to school nurses nationally. Fifty-seven percent of California school districts report not having any full-time school nurse. Similarly, the ratio of students to school psychologists and social workers in California is far worse than expert recommendations.
California ranks 51st nationally, including the District of Columbia, in the number of students per librarian – the absolute worst ratio. And, according to a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, about half of the 600 elementary and middle school libraries in the Los Angeles Unified School District are without librarians or aides, denying tens of thousands of California students regular access to school libraries.
California’s students deserve better. For years, California has balanced the state budget on the backs of our most vulnerable populations, including our students and schools. Proposition 30 – passed by voters in 2012 – provided a much-needed influx of funds to stop the cuts to education but we still have a long way to go. Despite being the ninth largest economy in the world, California consistently ranks in the bottom quartile nationally in terms of per pupil spending. We need to reclaim the promise of California’s public schools.
We hope you’ll join us in winning this important fight for Healthy Kids, Healthy Minds.
(Re-posted from cft.org/key-issues/healthy-kids,-healthy-minds.html)
A new brief from the California Budget Project —released in advance of Tax Day— reports that California’s lowest-income households on average pay a greater share of their income in state and local taxes than other households.
Using data provided by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), Who Pays Taxes in California? (81 KB PDF) shows that nonelderly households in the state’s bottom fifth in terms of income, who earn $13,000 a year on average, pay 10.6 percent of their incomes in state and local taxes. This is a larger share than all other segments of households — including the very wealthy. The top 1 percent of Californians, with an average annual income of $1.6 million, pay just 8.8 percent of their incomes in state and local taxes — or nearly two full percentage points less than the state’s poorest families.
Who Pays Taxes in California? examines how different components of California’s tax system —such as property taxes, sales taxes, and the personal income tax— affect lower- and higher-income Californians. The brief also suggests options for making California’s tax system fairer and promoting economic security for low-income families.
Here’s a telling graphic from the report:
PVFT Chief Negotiator Jack Carroll will be presenting to the PVUSD School Board our “opener” proposal for contract negotiations. It is official public information, in the “Board Packet” already posted at www.pvusd.net/agenda_packets (The Board packet is a 41.7 MB PDF).
Here is our opening proposal (4.9 MB PDF); this is only the 23 pages of the Board packet that is our proposal, as opposed to the entire Board packet. Our proposal contains the following:
- Cover page (p 1)
- Article IV: Work Load and Hours (pp 2-6)
- Article VI: Class Size (pp 7-9)
- Article VII: Wages and Related Matters (pp 10-16)
- Article XIV: Reassignment and Transfer (pp 17-22)
- PVFT’s Ending Fund Balance Projection (p 23)
(Reposted from AFL-CIO, www.aflcio.org/Blog/Economy/6-Reasons-Why-Unions-Are-Essential-to-Creating-Broadly-Based-Prosperity, and from the Roosevelt Institute, rooseveltinstitute.org/policy-and-ideas/big-ideas/report-future-work-america-policies-empower-american-workers-and-secure-p)
At the end of March, the Roosevelt Institute launched a new project, the Future of Work, which takes a look at the changing landscape in the area of workers’ rights and representation in the political and economic system that affects their lives. Author Richard Kirsch does a great job of explaining the economy and discussing potential policy solutions in a report titled The Future of Work in America: Policies to Empower American Workers and Secure Prosperity for All.
The Future of Work is bringing together thought and action leaders from multiple fields to re-imagine a 21st century social contract that expands workers’ rights and increases the number of living wage jobs. The Future of Work is focusing on three areas: Promoting new and innovative strategies for worker organizing and representation; raising the floor of labor market standards and strengthening enforcement of labor laws and standards; and assuring access to good jobs for women and workers of color.
This report, Policies to Empower American Workers and Secure Prosperity for All (594 KB PDF), is an introduction to the first area: policies to invigorate worker organizing. The report is in four parts:
- A history of how organized workers fueled America’s broadly shared prosperity;
- A history of how the weakening of American labor led to the shrinking of America’s middle class;
- A primer on American labor law;
- Policy ideas to reform and transform worker organizing.
Your team of PVFT delegates are hard at work at the 2014 CFT Convention, here at the Manhattan Beach Marriott (a union hotel, of course!). The annual statewide convention “is open to all CFT members, with elected delegates representing their local unions having the right to vote. Voting delegates must be elected following the legal requirements in the AFT and CFT Constitutions and the federal Landrum-Griffin Act. The Convention is the Federation’s highest policymaking body; delegates shape union policy and positions on issues affecting members.” Learn more at cft.org/governance/convention.html.
At Friday’s opening session, recently-elected LA Mayor Eric Garcetti spoke passionately about “one team:” City government and educators/schools/districts, working together to improve the lives of students — and their families, communities, schools and teachers.
Saturday’s keynote speeches were by AFT President Randi Weingarten, who’s always a firecracker speaker and offers an inspirational call-to-arms. Check out AFT videos on YouTube, or RW videos uploaded by others as well.
Later in the day Saturday, California Attorney General Kamala Harris delivered an equally compelling speech, and made powerful connections between education – specifically elementary truancy (which leads to academic struggle, which often leads to dropping out) and issues of public safety, violent crimes, and rising social costs for the criminal justice system as well as healthcare, social services, lost opportunity and more. Read her 2013 report on elementary truancy, online at oag.ca.gov/truancy or as a PDF (8 MB).
Sunday’s “sermon” from Reverend William J. Barber II was also incredibly moving and inspirational. He is a firey southern preacher, the current president of the North Carolina NAACP, and a leader in the growing movement in NC (and now spreading to other states) of large public rallies, marches, protests against social and economic injustices, called “Moral Monday” events. Check out Rev. Barber’s hundreds of videos at YouTube.
We’ll post more pictures and information as we can.
Join us to discuss the connection between income inequality and funding for Public Education and what it means for our future.
Sylvia Allegretto, UC Berkeley Labor Economist and Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics Co-Chair, will provide an overview of recent trends in income inequality nationally and in California—drawing on decades of expertise as a labor economist.
Jonathan Kaplan, Senior Policy Analyst with the California Budget Project, will link the trend in increasing income inequality to the need for long-term investment in education funding through an analysis of taxation and the budgetary process—illuminating how taxation works, how funding is allocated by the state legislature, how public education has fared in recent years, and what kinds of changes would help create broad access to a quality, affordable education in our state.
Sandra Weese, Organizing Project Director of California Federation of Teachers, will tie the two presentations together and suggest avenues for action.
This forum is sponsored by the Pajaro Valley Federation of Teachers, Cabrillo College Federation of Teachers, and the Greater Santa Cruz Federation of Teachers. A light dinner will be served.
Results of our Election of Officers and Delegates for 2014 are here! We want to thank all of our former officers and convention delegates and appreciate the good work they have done for our Local. Hope to continue the hard work with the new officers and look forward to increased involvement form our new delegates!
Attention Union members: Are you working to help your union find ways for its members to join in reclaiming the promise of a more just society for all? Or do you have a child who is a senior in high school with plans to attend college? We can help! As part of the Robert G. Porter Scholars Program, the AFT offers $8,000 scholarships to four high-achieving high school seniors who are the dependents of AFT members. And 10 grants of $1,000 each are available to AFT members from all divisions who seek to implement ideas for their union about the role union members can play in collectively reclaiming the promise.
Robert G. Porter was a dedicated union activist from the time he joined his first AFT local in East St. Louis, Ill., until his death in 1991. For nearly four decades, the late AFT secretary-treasurer gave his all to championing the rights of working people, promoting civil rights, and ensuring that the union was a vehicle for helping members achieve justice. Since its inception in 1993, the Robert G. Porter Scholars Program has awarded more than $500,000 to AFT members and their dependents to further their education and to help grow our union’s capacity to achieve our goals. Your application is now available online.
This year’s winners will be announced by June 30 and will be recognized at the AFT convention, July 11-14, in Los Angeles. The deadline for submitting the 2014 application to the AFT is March 31.
We look forward to another exciting year for the Robert G. Porter Scholars Program.
Please address your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. (Telephone requests for applications will not be accepted).
This graphic (from the Wisconsin AFL-CIO on Facebook) is correct:
We count on our members to get active and make a difference!
The next Site Rep’s meeting (which are always open to all members) is this Monday January 13, the first day of classes following winter break. The meetings run 4:30-6:30 pm, at the union office at 734 E. Lake Ave. See the schedule of union meetings for subsequent meeting dates.