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Does anyone find it ironic that Prop. 32, an initiative that “allegedly” seeks to stop special interest money, has just received a fat $4 million campaign donation from the American Future Fund – a secretive Super PAC that stands to benefit from the passage of the initiative?
We don’t know what the American Future Fund is because AFF is a 501 (c)(4) organization that does not disclose its donors and can receive unlimited contributions, but we do know it is linked to billionaire oil tycoons Charles and David Koch, which says enough.
The contribution is funding TV ads airing statewide and will most certainly raise the stakes in this campaign that is being hard-fought by CTA and other unions throughout the state.
Fortunately, the No on Proposition 32 campaign has you and our engaged members in communities all over the state. Our members, like Nancy Glenn of the San Bernardino Teachers Association, know the importance of defeating the initiative. In a letter in the San Bernardino Sun this week, Glenn writes, “If Proposition 32 passes, teachers will no longer be able to use our collective voices to advocate for what is right for our students.”
Also, watch the No on 32 TV ad that was launched this week. The ad will run in all major TV markets in California and will run in Spanish as well.
In the meantime, more newspapers have lined up to urge the defeat of Prop. 32. Among them is the San Francisco Chronicle, which calls it an “unbalanced” reform plan. In an editorial in Wednesday’s Contra Costa Times, Prop. 32 is described as “a deceptive sham that would magnify the influence of wealthy interests while shutting out those with competing views.”
Here’s what you can do this week:
Share your thoughts about Prop. 32 on your Facebook page. The Chicago Teachers Union was able to reach 81,000 people through Facebook during its strike. Let’s start to do the same.
Dean E. Vogel
We are all exhausted but not giving up, because what we’re up against is so important.
Some just focus on being the best teacher possible-others do the association work
It’s hard to feel comfort because the amount of work is too much.
Koch Bros just poured 4 million into a CA PAC, but they are nervous we will win.
Celebrate the people you work with, because they were the ones.
4 years, $20 billion in school cuts-thus higher class size-and we still are raising achievement!
We want teachers to feel the same sense of urgency we do-but teachers are working to the max doing the best they can do.
We can’t say thank you to members enough, thanks for staying in it, for your resiliency.
Once we say thank you and we appreciate their efforts then they can actually hear us.
Prop 32 is really about taking CTA out of the game, because we are in almost every community in the state. Because we are telling the truth in the community, and as good communicators we can stay on message
CTA started during the civil war, when John Swett said we need to get more money into public education, and get kinds in school, not work
Businesses who are getting pressure to move jobs back to CA, and who stops them when they try to cut worker safety laws?
63-65% believe teachers, so the big boys are scared-the moneyed interests continue to look for the most vulnerable communities they can start their fear-based campaigns. People are ready to hear our message.
Since our students don’t live in schools, they live in communities that have lots of problems, and they all need health and human services. People realize they are in trouble, but community-oriented problems often polarize people. We need to be able to talk to solve problems instead of drawing a line in the sand, attacking each other and their positions. Elected folks and politicians are becoming so partisan we don’t spend enough time looking at the policy problems. The agenda is driven by politics. It’s really about how to bring communities together, talk to each other respectfully to solve problems.
How do we get back to civility? As we move forward in our ability to dialogue and treat each other like human beings, we will get better at working with legislators, community members, and our own people.
Who knows how to do this better than teachers? We can vote 15 times by talking with our friends and neighbors.
There are 2 camps on educational reform:
· corporate agenda: test scores is the answer to measuring school/teacher effectiveness
· teacher/researchers-this is complex problem we need to look at very closely
Foundation that organized trip to Finland got people looking at international best practices, and invited funders AND politicians, union leaders, teachers. In Finland Dean saw a culture of celebrating the birth of a child that can be a useful part of society, including:
· Government pays 100% for poor, 85% for people with means, so everyone 3 year old is in a preschool program.
· Kids and teachers eat the same food, with 3 year olds separating garbage and compost, and this is played out in grades 3-6 schools he looked at.
· Lessons were Madeline Hunter style, nothing special or innovative. Fulltime nurses are in every school, middle school graduates are fluent in Swedish, English, and Finnish.
· At age 15 they go on career track or university track. All high schools have high tech, well-equipped woodshops, metal shops, electronics-all paid for by the government
· most Finn kids want to become teachers. It’s highly competitive to become a teacher, as the culture says teachers and helping the young-all working together
· Year one of teacher training is pedagogy and research, including action research. Student teachers spend an entire year with a master teacher.
Some of the business-oriented participants felt “this will never work” for America because we focus on competition and comparing schools-almost full circle back to the corporate business mentality towards schools.
After the election we will be able to move forward, and work together on a positive message that will help communities work together. Some of his reflections are on Dean’s Facebook blog, but after the election his insights will be published.
Some drama on 4.4: approval of an Honors Physics class, as we no longer have a qualified AP Physics teacher any more
Preliminary CST data suggests some good and bad news:
· negative growth for EL learners, generally speaking, and the need for more professional development despite the lack of state funding
· impressive positive 7th-8th grade growth, including Latino/Hispanic subgroups
· this was a partial release of data, with no definitive recommendation plans
· language-heavy math problems based on problem solving drove down Math scores
· once more data is made available the District can get a better idea of an action plan
The technology report was a 3-person tag team provided an interesting overview of District technology services. They feel they will need to replace or get around the problem of old servers through virtualization.
Tammy pointed out the benefits of lowering primary grade class size to 24, and its financial benefits as well as academic ones.
I made a report suggesting they adopt a resolution to support a No on Proposition 32, and then responded to the report on poor EL Learner test scores and made several reflections. The Board continued this discussion, saying that they believe in multiple measures to assess students, including the non-cognitive areas of achievement. They also understand the dilemna of the need for more professional development but the reality of not having the funds for it.
Countdown to the Election: Yes on 30! No on 32!
Less than sixty days to November 6 and the critical work we are doing now will make all the difference for the future of our students, public schools and state. It will take all of us working together to pass Proposition 30, defeat Proposition 32 and re-elect President Barack Obama.
Prop. 32 is not what it seems. It is not campaign finance reform. Its sole purpose is to give corporate special interests and billionaires more say in politics, while silencing educators and the middle class. If you look at who’s behind Prop. 32, you will see it’s the exact same folks who get the exemptions. Big oil companies, the insurance industry and Wall Street would have free rein, while working people pay the price.
Let me also tell you the truth about another group supporting Prop. 32: Democrats for Education Reform. You may have seen former lawmaker Gloria Romero criticizing educators and CTA in recent web ads. DFER are funded by hedge fund operators and Wall Street brokers who are exempted from Prop. 32 restrictions. They want to be free to push their corporate education reform agenda in California without any input or pushback from educators. Don’t let them silence our voice. Don’t let Prop. 32 take away our rights as union members and voters.
CTA is working with Governor Brown and a broad coalition of education, public safety, health care and community groups to pass Prop. 30, preventing an immediate $6 billion cut to schools and colleges, and providing additional funding to education, public safety and our communities.
I want to thank you for all of the work you’ve been doing in your local chapters to reach out to CTA members, parents and voters. Recent public polls have shown these initiatives moving in the right direction, but there is a lot of work to do, and we are up to the task. Get all the resources you need at www.CTA.org/campaign2012.
As a state-appointed delegate, I also had the opportunity to attend the Democratic National Convention. The race for president really is a choice between which America we want for our children. If you want an America that values public education for all students and understands the importance of maintaining a strong middle class, the clear choice is President Barack Obama. To compare the two candidates, read more at www.educationvotes.org.
Teacher Evaluation, Pensions and Help for Laid-off Educators
A bill that would have moved teacher evaluations beyond the current focus on test scores was withdrawn in the final days of the legislative session. CTA supported AB 5 by Assembly Member Felipe Fuentes to implement a comprehensive evaluation system that was based on best practices and multiple measures to strengthen the knowledge and skills of teachers and to improve student learning. Michelle Rhee and StudentsFirst opposed the bill because it continued the practice of educators being involved in the design of the evaluation process. In the end, Fuentes pulled the bill because he felt he could not allow proposed amendments to be voted on without a full public hearing. While CTA is disappointed that we missed an opportunity to make real changes to the evaluation process, I want to commend Assembly Member Fuentes for his inclusive and open approach. He involved all stakeholders for more than a year in the development of this bill. It is only through honest discussions, as opposed to political rhetoric, that we can develop sound education polices that truly reform education and improve student learning. Read the CTA Teacher Evaluation Framework.
CTA is equally disappointed with the passage of a law that changes the secure retirement system for new educators. AB 340 will make it harder to attract and keep quality teachers in our classrooms and police and firefighters on our streets. Teachers are already excluded from receiving Social Security benefits, and this new law creates a two-tiered retirement system. Read how AB 340 impacts CalSTRS and CalPERS members.
In some good news, Governor Brown signed into law a CTA-supported bill to help teachers who have been laid off get additional training without losing unemployment benefits. AB 1291 by Senator Noreen Evans adds credential preparation and other teaching training programs in math, science and special education to the list of allowable activities under the state’s unemployment program. This will allow teachers to strengthen their skills or get additional certifications in specific fields, which often have more vacancies. Under current law, if educators were enrolled in a training program, they would lose their unemployment benefits. The new changes take effect January 1, 2013.
Strategic Planning Begins
Following a successful town hall kickoff at the Chapter Presidents Conference, the CTA Strategic Planning Group met for the first time last month. Under the theme of Your Voice. Our Union. Our Future., it was a weekend of honest and open discussions about how to engage all members in the process and how to build the CTA we all want for our future. The Strategic Planning Group is a diverse group of more than 50 members and staff representing all areas of the state. This planning process will be very inclusive and will take about a year. CTA has hired the Labor Education Research Center at the University of Oregon to help us coordinate and facilitate. As one member of the group put it, “This is not just about CTA, it’s about public education and the role CTA plays in saving it.”
As many of you started the new school year in September, I too headed back to school – in Finland – as part of a group of educators and policymakers who traveled to Helsinki to learn how Finland’s education system works. Finland’s education system is hailed as one of best in the world. After nearly a week there, I can tell you it’s a teacher’s dream. There are complete support and resources for schools and educators from the government, families and the business community. Teachers and their unions have an authentic role in what happens. They also follow a whole-child approach to education and focus very little on standardized testing. Read more on my blog.
Parents as Partners: New Movie Gets it Wrong
Get ready for the next Hollywood movie to miss the mark about how educators, parents and the community can work together to help improve public education. Following in the tradition of Waiting for Superman and funded by some of the very same people, Won’t Back Downopens in theaters at the end of the month and again stereotypes and attacks educators and their unions. This fictional story glorifies so-called parent trigger laws and unfairly scapegoats educators. Read and share an honest movie review and fact check by Parents Across America. In CTA, we know that parents are our partners in public education, and that school reform is a shared responsibility. For more ideas on how to work with parents in your community, check out stories in this month’s California Educator and get additional resources on the CTA website.
Grants Available for High School Athletics
The California Casualty Thomas R. Brown Athletics Grant program that supports public high school athletics is gearing up for a third year. Applications for grants will be accepted beginning September 15 and continuing through January 15, 2013. A total of $75,000 will be distributed across the nation in grants ranging between $1,000 and $3,000.
In the first two years of the program, grants totaling $100,000 were made to 69 schools in 26 states.
California Casualty established the grant program because education budget cuts have drastically reduced support for school athletics, in some cases forcing programs to shut down altogether. Chairman Thomas R. Brown experienced the positive impact of playing sports as a youth. “Athletes learn teamwork, discipline and that hard work pays off,” he said. “They’re a valuable complement to what’s learned in the classroom.”
Applications should be completed and submitted by an employee of the school that seeks grant support, by no later than January 15, 2013. California Casualty will notify selected schools and present them with checks by May 15, 2013. For more information and to access an application, please visit www.CalCasAthleticsGrant.com.
A trusted partner of CTA, California Casualty provides auto and home insurance for educators, peace officers, firefighters and nurses. Learn more at www.calcas.com/cta.
Are you one of the 30%?
Did you know that, according to insurance industry research group LIMRA, 30 percent of U.S. households have no life insurance whatsoever? September is Life Insurance Awareness Month, so take some time to check your own coverage and educate yourself about the options available to you as a CTA member.
If you’re a CTA member newly hired by your district, the fall is a great time to get CTA-endorsed Life Insurance from Standard Insurance Company (The Standard). You have a special opportunity to apply for up to $200,000 of Life Insurance within 120 days of starting work – without providing any proof of good health.
And all eligible CTA members can apply for up to $400,000 of Life Insurance at any time with satisfactory proof of good health.
The CTA-endorsed Life Insurance plan was created specifically for California education professionals and offers a number of great features, including:
- Option to add Life Insurance coverage for your spouse/domestic partner and children with your Life Insurance
- Accidental Death and Dismemberment benefits
- Continuation of coverage during total disability with payment of premium
The Standard is the only Life Insurance provider endorsed by CTA. They were selected for their financial stability, integrity and commitment to serving CTA members and their loved ones. Don’t miss this opportunity to get the protection you deserve from a partner you can trust. Call The Standard’s dedicated CTA Customer Service Department at 800.522.0406 for more information or apply online at www.cta.org/thestandard.
For costs and further details of the coverage and this enrollment opportunity, including the exclusions, benefit waiting periods, and reductions or limitations and the terms under which the policy may be continued in force, please contact Standard Insurance Company at 800.522.0406. GP 190-LIFE/S399/CTA.3
Not that we need more evidence of the importance of passing Prop. 30, but there’s plenty available. The San Francisco Chronicle reported this week that the library/media center at James Logan High School in Union City has been closed, leaving some 4,000 students without access to aisles of books and computers. We have to keep more cuts like this from happening to our schools, and the way to do that is by passing Prop. 30.
Prop. 30 is the only funding initiative on the ballot that will assist higher education. Making a plea for the proposition in the North County Times this week was Riverside Community College instructor Fabian Biancardi who wrote, “My colleagues and I have full classes, full waiting lists and many pages of emails from students begging for entry. We admit as many as we’re legally allowed, and it’s devastating to be forced to turn the rest away.”
Show your solidarity with the No on 32 Campaign, just like the Rep Council of the San Ramon Valley Education Association did. Then upload it to the No on 32 Facebook Page.
Last week we introduced you to Super PAC Billionaire, but did you know there’s a Super PAC App you can use to track the millions flowing into Super PACs? While watching a political TV ad, a user can hold up her phone to identify the commercial and receive objective third-party information. The Super PAC App allows the user to rate the ad, while understanding who and how much money are behind the ad, what claims the ad is making, and whether those claims are based on facts.
Dean E. Vogel