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THE VOICE OF THE UNION

CaliforniaTeacher

November b December 2011 Volume 65, Number 2 

C A L I F O R N I A F E D E R AT I O N O F T E A C H E R S , A F T, A F L - C I O

CFT in step with the 99% PAGE 8

New kindergarten helps kids thrive

Changes threaten your retirement

Say YES to the Millionaires Tax

Teachers support transitional grade PAGE 12

Decoding pension “reform” proposal PAGE 6

CFT-led coalition submits initiative PAGE 3


CaliforniaTeacher

In this issue

UpFront

All-Union News 3 Pre-K/K-12 12 Classified 13

Community College 14 University 15 Local Wire 16

  Josh Pechthalt, CFT President

Independent labor-community alliance can pass much-needed tax on millionaires

SANDY HUFFAK ER JR

Unlike the other initiatives, however, ours places the burden for restoring funding solely on those best able to pay and not on the shoulders of working and middle class families.

Josh with Velma Butler, leader of the CFT classified division.

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AFTER WITNESSING the cold decimation of public services, the CFT, the Courage Campaign and California Calls have submitted the most progressive tax initiative in more than 100 years. We can pass the “Millionaires Tax to Restore Funding for Education and Essential Services” if we build a critical mass of unions, communitybased organizations, and activists. The Millionaires Tax enters a crowded field of possible ballot measures (See page 3). Unlike the other initiatives, however, ours places the burden for restoring funding solely on those best able to pay and not on the shoulders of working and middle class families. The Millionaires Tax will raise income taxes by 3 percent on those earning more than $1 million a year and by 5 percent on those earning more than $2 million. Extensive polling indicates that the Millionaires Tax has the best chance of passing next November. The measure also resonates with the growing public sentiment for taxing the rich given voice by the Occupy movement. Already our effort has pushed the backers of other initiatives, including the governor, to make their measures

ON THE COVER San Francisco City College English teacher John Walsh, joined Occupy Oakland on November 2 because he does not like the “corporatocracy” of America. Walsh is a member of the San Francisco Community College Federation of Teachers, Local 2121. PHOTO BY JANE HUNDERTMARK

The California Federation of Teachers is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO. The CFT represents faculty and classified workers in public and private schools and colleges, from early childhood through higher education. The CFT is committed to raising the standards of the profession and to securing the conditions essential to provide the best service to California’s students. PRESIDENT Joshua Pechthalt SECRETARY TREASURER Jeff Freitas SENIOR VICE-PRESIDENT Lenora Lacy Barnes EXECUTIVE COUNCIL Velma Butler, Cathy Campbell, Robert Chacanaca, Kimberly Claytor, Melinda Dart, Warren Fletcher, Betty Forrester, Carl Friedlander, Ray Gaer, Miki Goral, Carolyn Ishida, Dennis Kelly, Jim Mahler, Elaine Merriweather, Alisa Messer, David Mielke, Dean Murakami, Gary Ravani, Francisco Rodriguez, Sam Russo, Bob Samuels, Linda Sneed, Joanne Waddell, Carl Williams, Kent Wong, David Yancey

more progressive. In the next few weeks, Californians can compare the initiatives side-by-side in the run-up to the signature-gathering phase. This could be decisive, as proponents of less effective measures may decide to abandon their efforts and support the Millionaires Tax. How our sister and brother unions align will also be key. CFT’s historic support for a progressive tax measure restoring funding for education and other essential services has helped us forge important relationships with California Calls, a group of more than 25 community-based organizations, and the Courage Campaign, the leading progressive online organizing group in California. Engaging our community partners to support the Millionaires Tax for next November is not only an important step in restoring our communities, but it will also be essential in building a sustainable labor-community coalition that can move a broader progressive agenda. The relationships we establish will be important as we take on education issues, pension reform, and the importance of building a unionized labor force.

Finally, by aligning ourselves with labor and community rather than relying on the governor or any elected leader, we commit ourselves to organizing. Involvement of our members will be essential to getting this measure passed by the voters and will strengthen our ability to push back on anti-education, anti-worker attacks while we promote educatorand union-led reforms. As tempting as it may be to broker deals with political leaders, it is important to remember where our power lies. Whether it is dealing with management at the workplace, negotiating a local contract or promoting legislation, our power comes from the collective strength of our members — not the legislative halls of Sacramento or Washington D.C. While we have a tremendous challenge ahead of us, a year ago few believed the CFT would be successful in winning majority vote for adopting a state budget. The CFT persevered and now Proposition 25 is California law. Together we can do it again!

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EDITORIAL OFFICE California Federation of Teachers, 1201 Marina Village Pkwy., Suite 115, Alameda, California 94501 Telephone 510-523-5238 Fax 510-523-5262 Email jhundertmark@cft.org Contributors this issue: Renée Berg, Axel Borg, Kenneth Burt, Velma Butler, Patty Cox, Megan Dias, Maurice Englander, Carl Friedlander, Fred Glass, Elaine Johnson, Alan Karras, Joshua Pechthalt, Mindy Pines, Gary Ravani, Mike Rotkin, Bob Samuels, Linda Sneed, Malcolm Terence, Ben Terhune, Sandra Weese, Rosanna Wiebe Graphic Design Kajun Design, Graphic Artists Guild

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California Federation of Teachers


around the union…

All-Union News Act now to put Millionaires Tax on the November ballot!

CFT-led coalition submits initiative with best chance to reverse state’s downward spiral ON DECEMBER 5, the CFT and its partners in the new coalition Restoring California filed the “Millionaires Tax to Restore Funding for Education and Essential Services Act of 2012” with the state Attorney General’s office. The Millionaires Tax would increase rates on annual personal incomes in excess of $1 million dollars to provide needed revenues to finance education and public services. Americans, and Californians in particular, favor increasing revenue by increasing taxes on the wealthy. A CFT-sponsored poll in March showed Californians overwhelmingly support taxing the rich rather than see further cuts to schools and other vital services. A Los Angeles Times/USC poll in November had similar results. Even billionaire Warren Buffett thinks the rich should pay more taxes and has said, “If anything, taxes for the lower and middle class and maybe even the upper middle class should even probably be cut further. But I think that people at the high end — people like myself — should be paying a lot more in taxes.” The CFT-sponsored ballot measure will tax individuals earning $1 mil-

lion per year an additional 3 percent and those earning $2 million or more per year an additional 5 percent. The Millionaires Tax will raise an estimated $6 billion annually and has no sunset. Threefifths of the revenue will be dedicated to K-12 and higher education, the remainder to social services, public safety, and infrastructure. Under the CFT’s measure, the typical California taxpayer will have no increase in income taxes. “We have the measure that can win, is truly progressive, and speaks to the broad concerns of the people of our state,” says CFT President Josh Pechthalt. “Our extensive polling has made it very clear that this measure has the best chance of winning.” But three competing measures to raise taxes aimed at the November bal-

On the Web >To learn more about the Millionaires Tax, and get resources, go to cft.org.

lot bear close scrutiny because they are confusing to voters. The measures contain regressive components such as sales tax increases, which impact the poor and rich alike. All three require typical taxpayers to pay more money out of pocket each year. Gov. Brown has put forth a proposal to increase state sales tax by half a cent temporarily and boost rates on income above $250,000, generating an estimated $6 billion to be spent on K-12 and higher education, public safety, social services, and prisons. Under the governor’s plan, which has attracted some union support, the additional cost to the typical taxpayer would be $123 a year. A group of celebrities, ex-politi-

cians, millionaires and billionaires called Think Long California proposes lowering income tax rates on corporations and top earners, while raising taxes on everyone else and extending sales taxes to certain services. The measure would raise an estimated $10 billion to pay down state debt and fund K-14 and higher education, cities, and county public safety. This measure would cost a typical taxpayer $288 more each year. The third proposal is largely the creation of Los Angeles attorney Molly Munger and is endorsed by the state PTA. “Our Children, Our Future” would raise an estimated $10 billion by increasing personal income taxes on everyone except the poorest Californians, with high-income earners paying more. Under this plan, the typical taxpayer would pay $222 more every year. “It’s definitely time to rethink taxes,” says Pechthalt, “and the CFT has done that. The Millionaires Tax is the best solution and it makes sense for the 99 percent energized by the Occupy movement. It’s time for the 1 percent to help rebuild our state and our country.” — By CFT Staff

Triggered state budget cuts and more austerity coming What will the “trigger cuts” do? $1 billion to $2 billion

$2 billion to $4 billion

The outcome is: Community colleges cut $30 million, UC $100 million, CSU $100 million. Childcare cut 4 percent. Corrections and health and human services cut $350 million. No cuts to K-12 education. With maximum shortfall now projected, K-12 schools will lose $180-$190 per ADA. K-12 transportation funding will be cut in half, including special education transportation; impact on districts will vary dramatically from $0 to more than $2,000 per ADA with the average being $46 per ADA. Community colleges cut an additional $72 million.

TOP: JANE HUNDERTMARK

If revenues are short by: TIER 1

At press time, the final decision about the triggers is scheduled for December 15 when Director of Finance Ana Matosantos will determine which of two fiscal outlooks are better, the one from the legislative analyst or the one from the Department of Finance. The decision will be based on the more positive of the two projections. Despite the slightly better fiscal outlook in jobs and housing, the legislative analyst projected a $13 billion shortfall for the coming year — meaning that California schools can anticipate yet another year of cuts and austerity unless additional revenue is forthcoming.

TIER 2

LEGISLATIVE ANALYST Mac Taylor, the first official to determine whether or not education will sustain additional midyear cuts, announced that revenues are not expected to be in line with the adopted budget, triggering all of the Tier 1 and most of the Tier 2 cuts. This is bad news for community colleges, CSU and UC, projected to absorb cuts of $100 million each. But it means a slight respite for K-12 schools in that districts had budgeted for a larger cut of $260 per student, which is now slated to be about $185 per student. Cuts to K-12 transportation funding will exacerbate the impact in some districts, but not in others.

— By Patty Cox, CFT Research Specialist

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>> CFT members work for their candidates locally…

Educator-supported candidates score victories in local elections Union members step up to elect education-friendly candidates in November board races

RICHARD MAGANA

LIFE IN THE small North Monterey County Unified School District had become increasingly difficult. Things finally hit a boiling point after a largely appointed school board and an outof-touch superintendent imposed the largest K-3 class sizes in the region and forced the faculty to accept furlough days even as the district rolled up a record ending balance. According to Kelly Moore, president of the North Monterey Federation of Teachers, the “deteriorating conditions were related to our detachment for the last 15

North Monterey members get out the vote.

PAUL KARRER

The ABC Federation of Teachers supported successful candidate Lynda Johnson, standing. Shown seated at the kickoff fundraiser are, left to right, ABC President Ray Gaer, Richard Hathaway, Ruth Gaer, and the Gaer daughters Emma and Lily.

Members distribute materials for their teacher-turned-board member candidate.

years.” So the faculty decided to act. Under Moore’s leadership, the union recruited a popular teacher who worked in a neighboring district but lived in the community to run for the school board. Teacher candidate Mike Deckelmann enthusiastically reached out to voters in the largely rural district. He spoke with voters in coffee shops, at their doors, and over the phone. Parents and the faculty members added their voices to the growing chorus for fundamental change in the district’s operation. The faculty became so motivated

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election flyers together with the support staff represented by CSEA and AFSCME. “We earned the respect” of political figures at city hall who thought they could impose their candidate on the education community, according to Gaer. The Culver City Federation of Teachers knocked out an incumbent as it helped elect its two endorsed candidates, Nancy Goldberg and Laura Chardiet. Chardiet won by some three dozen votes. The El Rancho Federation of Teachers supported the reelection of school board member Delia Alvidrez. This enabled her to finish first in a multi-candidate field. Local political activity is always important because governing boards oversee district operations, including the hiring of administrators and negotiating of contracts. Political action becomes even more important in times of fiscal austerity. Successful union-supported campaigns that elect committed candidates to governing boards go far to solve the problem of managing existing funds.

that a quarter of the union’s 200 mem- IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY, a bers phoned voters, some volunteering number of small and medium-sized local unions likewise experienced repeatedly for phone bank duty. The big wins. candidate and the union augmented Ray Gaer, president of the ABC this personal touch with campaign — By Kenneth Burt, CFT Political Director Federation of Teachers, described mailers. The union also worked with its local labor council as a way to reach union voters who worked for As teachers, we recognize the Working together important role that parents play — other government bodies and in a we can make a dif in the education of their children. ference. variety of industries. On Tuesday, Novem ber 8, join “The anger was palpable,” said Culver City teache rs in electing Moore, and on election day the Laura Chardiet th district officials got the message. 8 r e b m e Deckelmann, the teacher, came in Nancy Goldberg ON NOv first place out of five candidates for For the Culver City Board of Education They’ll work togeth two seats in an at-large election. er for our children community! and our FOr the While he would be only one vote ed VOTE the teachers’ r eNdOrs choice on Novem ber 8 t e ach e on a five-person board, the unams e ca Ndidat biguous sentiment for change led the superintendent to offer his resignation. his union’s sweep of five seats on the district’s seven-member board as “a huge win.” The four-way race to fill an unexpired term on the ABC board was very close, as Lynda Johnson, the union-endorsed candidate won by d schOOl 22 votes. This victory was a result of bc U NiFiear d NORTH MONTEREY COUNTY UNIFIED SCHOOL BOARD a e h t r FO bO a strong campaign and coalition polidistr ict tics. The AFT members distributed

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armin reye

celia spitzer

lynda Johnson

maynard law


and the big issues nationally

Los Angeles member defends collective bargaining in Ohio Adjunct Renée Berg brings Golden State savvy to Midwest fight for worker ri­ghts

Renée Berg, center front, with AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka, center, on election night.

Cleveland Teachers Union president David Quolke celebrates success on election night.

and other public workers of most of their collective bargaining rights. We were 90 union volunteers from Los Angeles who went to Columbus. We took vacation days and personal days. For the most part, we didn’t know each other, but we got to know each other really well over the course of four days going house to house. Adrian, Tasha, Marvin, and Morris became my travel companions and election team. We laughed a lot, getting lost on unfamiliar Ohio roads. We probably talked to 1,000 people. They continued to ask us, “Why would you want to come here? You came from California!” They were surprised that people from California would care about issues in Ohio. They

ence those kinds of colors. I hadn’t. We were in the live audience of “The Ed Show” on MSNBC on election night. I stayed until I found out we won. After that, I decided to go in search of food. I hadn’t eaten. On my way out, I had a chance to chat with John Nichols, the reddishblonde political analyst who is a reg-

They were surprised that people from California would care about issues in Ohio…I think they were relieved, like the feeling when you know you’re not alone. — Renée Berg, Los Angeles College Faculty Guild These people didn’t have anything. We stopped to use the restroom at a local church. It was offering a free clinic that happened twice yearly. If I got it right, the doctors and dentists were from India providing the services free of charge. It seemed a bit turned around, that medical professionals would come to the United States to help our needy citizens. The weather and the fall colors were gorgeous. There were golds and reds that were unbelievable. I don’t know that anybody who has lived their whole life in California could experi-

ular guest on “The Ed Show.” I told him I had gone to Madison in February and had watched his predictions

AFT President Weingarten joins the phon e banks.

bargaining rights have been upheld on a statewide ballot. I went back to the hotel and fell asleep. — By Renée Berg, member of the Los Angeles College Faculty Guild, Local 1521

ALYSIA BURTON

ALYSIA BURTON

didn’t expect their issue to be important to us. I think they were relieved, like the feeling when you know you’re not alone. On our first day of precinct walking, we were in a very impoverished area. Families were living inside what appeared to be portable housing, the size of shipping containers cut in half.

Berg was in the audience of “The Ed Show.”

RENÉE BERG teaches child development at L.A. Mission College and L.A. Valley College, where she is one of the adjunct issues representatives for Local 1521. Berg has been teaching college as an adjunct or lecturer for 12 years, including at CSU Northridge, but she says, “Those wonderful teaching opportunities are gone due to the economic downturn and a contract not written in such a way as to protect part-time faculty at the CSUs.” Berg currently teaches four classes a year, down from the 21 she taught in the 1990s. She is considering taking on a new part-time teaching job that would require her to drive 140 miles round trip, and would pay about half of what she earns in the Los Angeles Colleges, “but it is work,” she says. Berg is the author of Practical Kindergarten: An Essential Guide to Hands-on Learning, available from Cambria Press or Amazon.

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during the recall elections with interest. I told him I also came out to Ohio because the issues in the Midwest are not midwestern problems, they are American problems. He replied, “What I like about Californians is that they get it.” I went to the grocery store and bought dim sum. I was exhausted. I was ecstatic. I did what I had come to do — it was the first time collective

DEBORAH DION

I’M A CALIFORNIA girl, born and raised, and I might never have gone to Ohio on my own. I was really hungry the whole time we were there. Spaghetti, meatballs, pizza, and donuts are not food to me. I like vegetables. I think I lost two pounds on the trip, not the usual campaign experience, from what I’ve been told. Ohio was my first political campaign — and I’m 60 years old. My last major political activism was getting arrested during the “Stop the Draft Week” when I was 16. It was quite an experience to be in Ohio to help defeat “Issue 2/SB5” and restore collective bargaining for 360,000 Ohio public employees. The ballot measure would have stripped police officers, teachers, firefighters


TED SOQUI

Why public employee pensions are not the problem The myth: The high cost of public employee pensions is a major cause of California’s budget deficit.

Staying ahead of the curve

The truth: Too-big-to-fail financial institutions made risky, government-backed investments that failed catastrophically, ruining the economy and devastating state revenue streams.

DOLORES SANCHEZ

The result: Pursuing their long-time agenda of destroying unions, right-wing politicians use the widespread economic distress to divide a hard-pressed public from its public workforce. And the question: Will

Mary Van Ginkle, right, a classified employee in the L.A. colleges “works hard for her pension.”

public employee unions resist the divide-and-conquer strategy and come together to heal the wounded commonwealth?

The misguided pressure on public pension funds got ratcheted higher on October 27, when Gov. Brown released a 12-point plan for pension reform

in state and local governments. While the governor addresses a few abuses such as spiking, he would also create a second tier of benefits and retirement

ages for future workers that might even have effects on present employees and retirees. To further complicate the political landscape, there are at least a half dozen other pension reform ballot initiatives in the signature-gathering pipeline. Each has features that are worse than the one proposed by the governor. Sharon Hendricks, a member of the Los Angeles College Faculty Guild and newly elected member of the CalSTRS board, said she expects the Legislature, the staffs of the pension plans, and constituency groups to develop reform legislation by spring or summer. Hendricks said the governor would like a plan to come before the voters on the November 2012 ballot but says, “many in the Legislature are not will-

CFT responds to the governor’s 12 points of pension “reform” 1. New and current employees would contribute at least 50 percent of their pension costs. This transition would occur over time and in some plans, might come through contract negotiation. In CalSTRS, the contributions of members already cover 45 percent of program cost; any change requires legislation. 2. New employees would participate in a “hybrid” defined benefit/defined contribution plan, most of which would include Social Security. For CalSTRS members, who are not in Social Security, the plan would become two-thirds defined benefit/ one-third defined contribution. Defined contribution investments are more risky and analysts have raised concerns about funding the defined benefit program. Part-time classifed employees could see reduced benefits because Social Security now received would count towards their CalPERS pension. 3. Increase retirement age to 67 for new employees. All new hires except safety employees would need to work to

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age 67 for full retirement benefits, replacing retirement at 55 for CalPERS members, and 60 for CalSTRS members. The second tier of new employees would be required to work longer for a reduced benefit.

continue working. After a retiree sits out six months, CalSTRS and CalPERS already have fixed dollar limits. For CalSTRS, the limit is $31,020 per year for a retiree under 60 years of age.

4. Require three-year final compensation for new employees. Benefit amounts will be calculated using the averaged final three years of salary to foil spiking. Though spiking is really aimed at administrators, this proposal would reduce already modest pensions for classified employees who are ‘capped out’ for their final three years.

7. Forfeit pension if convicted of a felony in the course of public duty — for all employees. The governor’s plan acknowledges that this is infrequent.

5. Calculate benefits on regular, recurring pay for new employees, not special bonuses, unused vacation or sick leave or other pay perks. This is to reduce spiking and aimed at administrators whose pensions often include housing and car allowances and firefighters working overtime. 6. Limit post-retirement employment to 960 hours a year for all employees to limit employees who draw pensions yet

CALIFORNIA TEACHER NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2011

8. Prohibit retroactive pension increases for all employees. Benefit enhancements that are applied retroactively to current employees and retirees will be banned. This proposal ties the hands of policymakers and could limit legislative ability to correct inequities in the systems. 9. Prohibit pension holidays for all employees and employers. During the boom years, pension plans appeared fully funded and many public agencies stopped making contributions, a move that proved unsustainable when the market collapsed. For the most part, educators and districts have not been given pension holidays.

10. Prohibit purchase of service credit for all employees. Would disallow purchase of “airtime,”additional retirement service credit for time not worked. Buying credit helps women who lose time for child-rearing, new fathers on paternity leave, veterans, and members of military service who should not be denied credit. CalSTRS members can purchase up to five years but must pay both employer and employee contributions. 11. Increase pension governing board expertise and independence. The governor would add two independent public members with financial expertise to the CalPERS board and eventually make similar changes to other public pension boards. It’s essential stakeholders have a voice on the governing boards. CalSTRS retirees currently have no elected representative on the board. 12. Reduce retiree health care costs for state workers. This proposal affects only state workers.


Sharon Hendricks, newly elected member of the CalSTRS Board, speaks at a public hearing about the governor’s proposals.

Assemblymember Warren Furutani listens to testimony at the public hearing in Carson.

ing to have the entire pension reform plan up for a vote by the people.” The state’s non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office acknowledged that retiree benefits are “just one part of overall public employee compensation” offered public servants instead of higher salaries. The LAO was not clear how the governor’s increased retirement age or “hybrid plan,” a combined defined benefit and defined contribution plan for new hires, would work, but said there was a current tendency to defer retirement costs to future generations and this can lead to unfunded liabilities. In response to the governor’s proposals, CalSTRS said a significant issue not addressed in the Brown proposals is the long-term funding shortfall left over from the 2008 financial meltdown. Republican critics of the governor made the same point. Only the governor and the Legislature have the authority to address such changes in CalSTRS. According to CalSTRS, many of the governor’s provisions

will not apply to the statewide pension plan for teachers and other certificated school employees. CalPERS, the world’s largest public pension plan, serves 1.6 million public workers including many school and college classified employees. Its response to the governor’s proposal cited more than 175 cities, counties, and local governments that have already negotiated changes that will lower near-term and future costs by increasing employee contributions, modifying benefits for new hires, or both. The CalPERS response also defended defined benefit programs, saying, “Pension change dialogue

Knowledge is power

Learn the lingo of retirement now Defined benefit plans pay retirees specified allowances for life. CalSTRS, CalPERS and UCRS are defined benefit plans funded by contributions from active employees and from returns on investments. Defined contribution is a system in which employee and employer make contributions into an investment account. If the investment drops in value, so does the amount left for retirement, as has happened to most 401(k) accounts during the financial meltdown. Two-tier system is one that would create a new arrangement of pension contributions, retirement age, and benefits for future hires. This means current employees and new hires doing the same work would receive different retirement benefits. Pension governing boards oversee investment of the plan’s portfolio and ensure that the retirement fund from which allowances are paid is sufficient. The 12-member CalSTRS board includes only three members elected by working educators; the 13-member CalPERS board includes six elected members. Actuary describes the mathematical experts who calculate mortality tables to determine how long the average retiree will live in order to project the benefit amount required. Fully funded means that on a specific date a retirement fund must have enough money to pay all members — retired and still working — the benefits due until their deaths. Periodic reviews by actuaries determine how much money is required to achieve this. Pension holiday refers to periods when the returns on a retirement fund were doing so well that contributions from the employer or the employee, or both, were halted. Service credit refers to the amount of time an employee has worked and is a factor used in the formula to calculate a defined benefit pension. The two other factors are final salary and the employee’s age when benefits begin.

TED SOQUI

TED SOQUI

in the vital pension debate

Spiking is the practice of inflating compensation to increase a pension.

L.A. College Faculty Guild members John McDowell, left, and Sharon Hendricks listen to testimony presented at the hearing.

Double dipping refers to a retiree returning to the type of work just retired from to collect a salary and a pension. Airtime is the purchase of additional retirement service credit for time not worked.

should focus on…how to provide adequate and secure retirement income for public workers in a costeffective way, while honoring vested rights for existing employees.” —By Malcolm Terence, CFT Reporter

CFT-endorsed candidates win CalSTRS Board seats SHARON HENDRICKS easily won her bid for the community college seat on the CalSTRS Board, capturing 73 percent of the vote of community college faculty, according to a CalSTRS announcement on December 7. CFT-endorsed candidates for the K-12 seats on the board also won in the vote of K-12 teachers: Harry Keiley won 58 percent and Dana Dillon won 54 percent.

CalSTRS is the California State Teacher Retirement System covering K-12 and community college faculty. Educators contribute 8 percent of their salary, districts contribute 8.25 percent, and the state pays a contribution of 2.5 percent, reduced from 4.6 percent. The average CalSTRS member retires at age 62 after 27 years of service and receives an annual pension of approximately $49,000 a year but does not qualify for Social Security. CalPERS, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, is the largest public retirement system in the world, covering public workers including many classified employees. The annual payment to its average classified school retiree is $15,000 after 16.9 years of service. The average CalPERS worker retires at age 60 and is eligible for Social Security. UCRS, the University of California Retirement System, covers all employees working more than 50 percent time at UC, excluding students, after a five-year vesting period. Employees contribute 5 percent to their pensions and the university contributes 10 percent; in 2013 those rates move to 6.5 percent for employees and 12 percent for the university. The UC defined benefit plan receives no state support. In July 2013, the university will introduce a second-tier pension for new hires, but it has to negotiate with the unions, which represent 50 percent of the covered employees.

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Occupy Occupy the Future C

FT members are participating in the Occupy movement in large cities and small towns, on campuses and in the streets. One day in Oakland, though, stands out as a pivotal action in the mass movement. The Occupy movement called it a General Strike, while the labor movement more modestly called it a Day of Action. Both titles accurately name the events of November 2, when tens of thousands of normal Americans took the day off work to march together across Oakland. At the end of the day, they closed the city’s port, the fifth busiest in the nation, to call attention to the economic inequality

that is polarizing the country. For many educators, the day started at Laney College where several hundred students and faculty joined a fiery rally on behalf of the 99 percent who have been shut out of their futures by the 1 percent who pay less than half the tax rates that they did in 1960, but who now take home double their former share of the national income. All fired up, rally-goers hit the pavement, wending their way through downtown streets. There was more than a little of the spirit of the 1946 Oakland General Strike in the air — an event that the Alameda County Central Labor Council, in that moment right after

World War II, likewise declined to term a “general strike,” and instead called a “work holiday.” One educator, Dana Blanchard, 32, who works as an intervention specialist with at-risk kids at Berkeley Unified, headed off with the swelling crowd at Laney College to the district offices of the Oakland Unified School District. Following a rally there, the march, picking up more participants every step of the way, moved on to the banks. Blanchard marched on a major bank, known for its discriminatory lending practices and refusal to pay its fair share of taxes. It closed. One after another — Wells Fargo,

Occupy and Refund: CFT supports two faces of a growing movement for change

Daly City teachers made the trek to Oakland to participate in the ‘General Strike.’

Peralta Federation President Matthew Goldstein hits the streets after a morning rally. 8

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AFTER 30 YEARS in which the American political narrative has been dominated by anti-tax, anti-government, anti-union messages, the game is changing. For the first time in decades, income and wealth inequality is a major concern of the news media and politicians. The CFT-endorsed Occupy Wall Street and Refund California movements call for better pay and working conditions, more robust funding for public services, and an end to the privilege enjoyed by corporations and wealthy individuals. The CFT resolution endorsing Occupy encourages members to participate in Occupy actions and states, “Occupy Wall Street, and its local variations, represent the legitimate response of the 99 percent of us adversely affected by growing wealth and income inequality in America. The CFT embraces the call of Occupy Wall Street to raise taxes on the rich, to reregulate the banks, and to enact a financial speculation tax.” Refund California is a coalition of labor and community groups that is calling attention to the plight of public education

and to make banks pay for the economic damage they have caused through reckless financial behavior. The coalition is building a movement by demanding that corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share to refund jobs, public education, and essential services for workers and communities that have paid more than their share; and by organizing direct actions on- and off-campus so that board members and administrators of schools and colleges have to face the crisis. These critical mobilizations will help change the debate in a way that makes clear the need to increase taxes on the wealthy in 2012, and reverses the trend of forcing everyone else to pay ever more. >To learn more about Refund California go to makebankspaycalifornia.com. Follow the Occupy movement in major California cities at occupyoakland.org, occupysf.com, and occupysandiego.org and through countless Twitter feeds.


“It’s an education moment for everyone,” said Laney College carpentry instructors Karl Seelbach and John Shurtz.

Oakland Occupy Education CFT members join the millions who are demanding that the country change direction Citibank, Bank of America — the branches of these giant institutions were shut down. The crowd outside each shouted, “You got bailed out, we got sold out.” The march continued to grow on its way to the Occupy Oakland encampment at city center, gaining nurses, technicians, communications workers. It poured onto Broadway, occupying a half dozen blocks of the downtown city boulevard, in what one young participant called “a protest carnival.” Marchers chanted, “We are…the 99 percent.” There were more than 5,000 people. Thousands more would join by day’s end. Everywhere you went, you could hear people saying things like “Isn’t this incredible?” and “This gives me hope that the people can take power.” What they were referring to was the thousands of educators, college students, parents and their children,

union workers, homeless people, professionals, unemployed, activists, and people who had never been to a demonstration in their lives, taking over the streets of an American city for a day. Many businesses sported signs in their windows, “Closed in solidarity with the General Strike.” Others set up tables on the sidewalk and offered bottled water to the marchers. The large roving march behaved peacefully and the police kept a low profile. The exception occurred when an anarchist contingent held a separate march and smashed the windows of a Wells Fargo bank. After lunch, there were more demonstrations and marches, including a picket line by machinists outside a Mercedes Benz showroom, which the International Association of Machinists dubbed “Occupy Mercedes Benz.” At 4 pm, hundreds of educators

Faculty from City College of San Francisco begin the the two-mile march to the port of Oakland.

arrived from K-12 and community college districts throughout the Bay Area and assembled alongside students from both sides of the Bay and beyond. People left all sorts of jobs early that day to amass for what became the big finale — shutting down the port of Oakland. A solid throng of people streamed from the Occupy Oakland encampment to walk the entire two miles to the port — easily 15,000 to 20,000 people, row after row, chanting and carrying banners, with everywhere the numbers: 1 percent and 99 percent. A second wave left at 5 o’clock, as large and continuous as the first. The mass of people flowed over the bridge spanning train yards below, leaving large tractor-trailers stranded like islands in the ocean of protesters. The word spread: We need a couple thousand people at each gate for the

shift change at the docks, so that the longshore workers would have to call in an arbitrator to declare the docks “unsafe.” The people distributed themselves. The docks were closed. Back at the city center Occupy Oakland encampment, the Alameda Central Labor Council was still serving dinner. Volunteer firefighters, Teamsters, United Food and Commercial Workers members, Unite Here, SEIU members and others stood for hours behind the grills, flipping burgers and hot dogs, handing out bottles of water, and ladling rice and beans onto the plates of the thousands who had come out to demonstrate their determination that this country has to change. — By Fred Glass, CFT Communications Director

>Watch a video featuring CFT members in the Day of Action at tinyurl.com/CFT-Occupy

Deep in the port of Oakland, Berkley teachers and their families rise up on November 2.

PHOTOS BY JANE HUNDERTMARK

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10 More Maxims for Teachers

Former CFT president offers sage advice on teaching and learning EDITOR’S NOTE: Last year former CFT President Maurice Englander penned “10 Maxims for Teachers” for California Teacher. This year, Englander returns with 10 more maxims reflecting on the art and craft of teaching.

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The classroom is never quite out of the mind of the conscientious teacher. He, or she, is constantly turning over in some part of the mind how best to make and present the lesson, to devise the effective test, to use the available materials, to deal with the slow learner, or the behavior problems of a troubled youngster, to evaluate achievement, to identify a learner’s learning problems, and on and on. The teacher’s day doesn’t end before the beginning of the next day.

BY MAURICE ENGLANDER, FORMER PRESIDENT CALIFORNIA FEDERATION OF TEACHERS

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Teachers are made not born. Years of study, preparation, and observation precede the teacher’s practice of his or her profession. Teaching isn’t something one can do; rather, it is something one must do. Good teachers teach primarily for the love of it, not for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

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Getting students from A to B is the goal. How they are to get there is the teacher’s job. The curriculum, the text, the lab problem, the test constitute the map, but not the territory itself. The straightest road from A to B is not necessarily the only or best route. It is the teacher’s job to choose it, steer the vehicle, and get the students to their destination safe, sound, and whole. None but those in the classroom can be trusted to select the destination, read the map, or steer the vehicle.

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LEON ZERNITSKY/IMAGES.COM

Satisfaction is the greatest compensation. If money matters more than the satisfaction of doing it well, then administration might be a better fit for those who can’t, won’t, or don’t want to be in the classroom. Moreover, making teachers beggars or politicians’ punching bags not only demeans teachers and what they do, but also those for whom they do it — namely their students.

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Pay seldom indicates teacher competence. If one can’t be a good teacher at whatever place on the normal pay scale, neither can he or she be bribed into becoming one at triple the amount by calling it “merit pay.”

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Teachers do need and deserve a living wage. Like everyone else, teachers need enough to take care of a family, to be able to live in the same neighborhood as his or her work place — if they so choose — to maintain good health, to get from here to there, and to live out a reasonably decent life after 30 and more years of teaching. The good teacher can’t teach better if offered a carrot or threatened with the stick. These might do for a horse or an ass, but a teacher is neither.

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Master teachers are the best judge of teacher effectiveness. Non-teaching critics who can’t, don’t, or won’t work in the classroom aren’t fully qualified to judge those who do teach. Successful teachers are better judges of other teachers than are those who’ve spent little or no time teaching.

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Use criticism wisely. No magic wand can turn bad teachers into good ones, but contempt for what they do and how they do it won’t remove bad teachers from the classroom or enable the best to do their best work.

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Placing the right teacher in the right place and time is at least as important as fitting the right suit to the right wearer in the tailor’s shop. The factory makes the cloth, but the tailor does the fitting. Teachers are neither heartless taskmasters nor saints. They do the best they can with limited money and little extra reward, but they gain the satisfaction of seeing other people’s children succeed at the tasks set before them. In the end that’s the most anyone has a right to expect of them.

Maurice Englander was chair of the English department at Lowell High School in San Francisco. He served as president of the then-named California State Federation of Teachers from 1962-63. During his presidency the organization won a number of important legal and legislative victories, including what Englander called “the Magna Carta for teachers,” reversing a decision in which a teacher was fired for hosting educational forums and writing the local newspaper letters critical of the district; and passing the Probationary Teacher Protection Act, which provided for mandatory hearing before dismissal. Englander is retired and lives in San Francisco.

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Berkeley Federation members occupy Oakland on November 2.

Richie joins CFT staff

Convention delegates will be decisive in 2012

CAROLYN RICHIE joins CFT staff as a field representative in the Los Angeles area. Richie is the former president of the Compton Council of Classified Employees, Local 6119, and helped grow her local union membership by nearly 80 percent. Richie fine-tuned the art of internal organizing by traveling from camCarolyn Richie pus to campus in the K-12 district to talk with employees and ask them to join the union. Richie became more deeply involved in educational issues in her district and community when the first test of the state’s “parent trigger” law occurred in Compton. Richie was in the vanguard, attending community forums and responding to the media, speaking on behalf of her members and other union members, to help expose how the law had been misapplied in Compton. > Richie will be based out of the CFT Los Angeles County Office in Hawaiian Gardens.

CaliforniaTeacher f the union the voice o

April b May 2010 Volume 63, Number 4

aft afl-cio f teachers, e d e r at i o n o california f

CFT leads historic march

ing the right to vote. The Convention WANT TO MAKE a difference in is the Federation’s highest policymak2012? Plan now to get elected as a deling body; delegates shape union posiegate to the CFT Convention that will tions on issues affecting members. be held April 13-15 at The Fairmont Delegates must be elected followSan Jose. ing the legal requirements in the AFT With the theme “Our State, Our and CFT Constitutions and the federal Future, Our Fight,” the Convention Landrum-Griffin Act. Under these boasts an impressive line-up of speakrules, each member ers and workshops. Saturshall have a reasonable day workshop offerings opportunity to be are geared toward nominated as a active participadelegate, and tion in the local unions 2012 General must mail Election and a notice to passing the members at CFT-sponleast 15 days sored statewide before the elecprogressive tax California Feder ation o rs f Teache tion. The elecmeasure. tions must be held by secret ballot, the The Convention will also elect delresults must be published, and records egates to the AFT and the California must be kept for one year. Look for Labor Federation Conventions. But notice of the election from your local the Convention isn’t all work; there’s union or contact it to learn when time for fun as well, with receptions elections for delegates will be held. and get-togethers. >For more information, download Convention is open to all CFT the CFT Convention Call at tinyurl. members, with elected delegates repcom/Convention2012. resenting their local unions and hav-

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California Teacher wins top awards for 2010

Vote June 8 in the state primary CFT says Torlakson for state Page 3

super

Overload teaching in the colleges Delegates debate divisive issue Page 14

Pink Hearts, Not Pink Slips

back AFT’s new campaign to fight Page 16

CALIFORNIA TEACHER garnered many awards last year, including a first place in general excellence from the AFT COMMUNICATORS NETWORK, where CFT competes with other state federations or local unions with more than 10,000 members. One judge said, “This publication really is the voice of the union. It makes members proud to belong to such an active organization and gives them vital information. This is an enjoyable, visually pleasing publication as well. Every page draws you in and demands your attention. A model for all others to follow.”

Another judge said, “What I especially love is the way your members shine through in their commitment to public service and the way your staff connects that mission to the public good. Each issue contained a variety of stories reaching all the divisions of the Federation. This publication is a model for contemporary design and layout, thanks to the clean look, the strategic use of photos and graphics and the deployment of four-color printing.” FIRST Best Publication/Print edited by Jane Hundertmark. FIRST Best Design/Layout by Kajun Design SECOND Best Profile “In Tenenbaum’s class, science for non-majors comes to life” by Mindy Pines, CFT Reporter In the INTERNATIONAL LABOR COMMUNICATIONS ASSOCIATION, CFT competes with all international and

national labor organizations. FIRST Best Analysis “Los Angeles Times unfairly names and shames district teachers” by Mindy Pines, CFT Reporter FIRST Best Publication Design, Newsletters & Newspapers by Kajun Design FIRST Best Informational Graphic “March for California’s Future,” by Maynard Consulting and Kajun Design SECOND Best Editorial or Column “Decades of school ‘reform’ in U.S. based on faulty assumptions,” by Gary Ravani, President, EC/K-12 Council SECOND Best Cover or Front Page “March for California’s Future,” photo by Jane Hundertmark and design by Kajun Design CFT also won FIRST PLACE in Best Multimedia Campaign for the March for California’s Future produced by Fred Glass.

Mark your Calendar Deadline for high school seniors to submit applications for the CFT Raoul Teilhet Scholarships is January 10. Download applications at cft.org. The Western Workers Labor Heritage Festival, a conference that inspires workers to use the creative arts to strengthen the labor movement, will take place January 13-15 at the International Association of Machinists hall in Burlingame. To learn more, go to docspopuli.org/WesternWorkers.html. The EC/K-12 Council Conference will be held February 3 at the Hilton Oakland Airport. Standing Committees of the CFT meet the next day, Saturday, February 4 at the Hilton Oakland Airport. Changed location! The Leadership Conference for local union presidents, treasurers, and staff will be held February 9-10 at The Westin Los Angeles Airport. Attendees can participate in a new two-day training for treasurers. In Track 2, attendees will hear from analysts from the California Budget Project and can attend workshops with legal updates from attorneys and numerous other topics. Ian Ruskin will perform his one-man play Begin the World Over Again: The Life of Thomas Paine. Learn more by clicking on Training at cft.org Deadline to submit resolutions to be heard on the floor of the CFT Convention is March 1. Learn more on the CFT website at tinyurl.com/ Convention2012. The annual Convention will be held April 13-15 at The Fairmont San Jose. Learn how to become a voting delegate in the story at left. CFT Lobby Day is back! The Lobby Day for union members and leaders to meet with our elected representatives in the California Legislature will be held on April 23-24 at The Citizen Hotel in Sacramento. New this year! CFT will host a weeklong Union Summer School from August 13-17 offering five days of training and leadership development at UCLA.

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Around CFT

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Pre-K and K-12 Transitional kindergarten excites children, teachers and parents MAYRA SHIOSAKI TOOK out the puppets, sand table, painting easels, and other manipulatives she had put away years ago when the state dictated that kindergarten curriculum be more academically rigorous. Shiosaki teaches at Toland Way Elementary in Los Angeles, one of 36 Los Angeles Unified schools to pilot transitional kindergarten last year. Those classes were so successful that the district added Shiosaki’s class. The 18 children in her new transK class sing, dance, build with blocks and Legos, paint, and rotate in small groups through drama centers, play kitchens, and other learning centers. Transitional kindergarten is a new grade, created by Senate Bill 1381, the Kindergarten Readiness Act. The law requires children to be five years old by September 1 the year they enter

>

GARY RAVANI COUNCIL PRESIDENT

Closing all the gaps

TOP: MINDY PINES

The Coleman Report to Congress in the mid-1960s laid out the causes for low school achievement in the United States: pockets of concentrated poverty and segregated schools. Current research indicates child poverty and school segregation are more intense now than in Coleman’s time. A recent PEW study shows that children of low-income, low-education parents do worse on vocabulary tests in many nations, but in the United States the poor do much worse. Education professor Pedro Noguera, a nationally recognized authority, is careful to point out: “Research never suggests that poor children are incapable of learning...” rather “... poor children encounter obstacles...to learning.” Efforts to correct the healthcare gap, the housing gap, the living wage jobs gap, all the gaps that contribute to the “achievement gap,” have been minimal in order to protect tax cuts for the wealthy.

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MINDY PINES

Pilot programs allow younger students to develop at age-appropriate rate

Debbie Biggs, a trans-kindergarten teacher in El Dorado Hills, calls the new grade a “gift of time.”

kindergarten. The state’s 700 districts with elementary schools must implement trans-K by 2014, but can phase it in over the next three years. About 20 districts are piloting the program this year. The more age-appropriate curriculum in trans-K is aligned with kindergarten standards and taught by

to be listening to early childhood educators,” Merriweather explains. “With the increasing academic demands in kindergarten, more and more children are starting out far behind and never catch up. They can’t hold a pencil. They can’t focus or sit still long. Many end up in special education when they’re not spe-

“With the increasing academic demands in kindergarten, more and more children are starting out far behind and never catch up. They need this extra year with more time to play and develop.” — Elaine Merriweather, CFT Vice President and early educator

credentialed K-12 teachers. Trans-K helps young children develop physical and motor coordination, number sense, and language arts readiness. CFT Vice President Elaine Merriweather, who has been an early educator for 29 years in San Francisco and is also an elected member of the West Contra Costa County School Board, serves on a special task force to pilot trans-K in Richmond. “For the first time legislators seem

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cial ed. They need this extra year with more time to play and develop.” In San Francisco, the district’s early childhood director wants to mix trans-K and kindergarten students. Merriweather believes unions should oppose combining the two in one class because “it would defeat the whole purpose. As an educators’ union, we must make sure this law is implemented correctly.” Janet Davis, elementary co-chair

of United Teachers Los Angeles, is pleased that Los Angeles Unified is piloting the program regionally and developing it slowly and successfully. “We want to make sure there is no stigma,” Davis explains, because at first, parents feared trans-K was kindergarten retention. “We did have to retain a lot of kindergarteners who had started school at age four. As the pilots succeed though, parents began to understand that transitional kindergarten can ensure their children’s success in school.” Additionally, says Davis, who monitors the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, “We need to look at how trans-K will develop alongside early childhood education. So at some point, pre-K credentialing and pay may be affected.” LAST YEAR, THE Rescue Union School District in the Sierra foothills east of Sacramento opened transitional kindergartens at two of five elementary schools, according to Lynn Simpkin, co-president of Rescue Union Federation of Teachers. Parents loved them, so this year the district opened another. Debbie Biggs, a 30-year veteran of pre-K through second grade, teaches this new 21-student class at Jackson Elementary School in El Dorado Hills. She describes her current assignment as “joyful and exciting.” The children in Biggs’ trans-K class need more time to develop socially, physically, and academically. “We have to take frequent movement breaks because of short attention spans,” she explains. They struggle after 5 to 10 minutes while kindergarteners are expected to focus for 20 to 30 minutes. At first parents worried that transitional kindergarten wasn’t the right place for their children but now they are very positive. Biggs calls transitional kindergarten “a gift of time.” — By Mindy Pines, CFT Reporter


Classified

Carl Williams from Compton Unified shares ideas with local leaders.

Shelly Reed, left, and her colleague from the Menifee Council of Classified Employees.

At annual event, classified learn skills, network…and Occupy was a wealth of information and touched on all the things I should be doing,” Reed said. “I’m not in the dark any more and I’m not alone. Now I can call up the presenters any time.” Well-informed guest speakers took

SANDY HUFFAKER JR

Members listened to labor attorneys who specialize in classified workplace issues.

eral members also packed into a van and trekked across the city to rally at Occupy San Diego on October 15. “What inspired me to step up and go is that I think that everybody needs to join in on this because it’s a people’s movement,” said Greg Whaling, a tech worker in the Los Angeles colleges and member of the AFT College Staff Guild. Debbie Stout, from the Menifee Council of Classified Employees went

to support the movement. “Everyone needs to pay their fair share,” she said, “because our kids need the best education to be the best leaders.” Back at the conference, workshops on topics ranging from treasurer training to social networking rolled out. Stout’s colleague, Shelly Reed, an accounting clerk, attended the workshop for local treasurers. “I ran for treasurer and have to learn from scratch. That workshop

Practical advice for dealing with new Diastat law EARLIER THIS YEAR, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 161, a new law that says any employee in a K-12 school may volunteer to administer Diastat to a child having a seizure. Diastat is administered rectally. Whether or not you choose to volunteer, educate yourself. Below are suggestions from CFT legal counsel Jeff Boxer about how to respond if you are asked or choose to volunteer. In the meantime, unions will continue fighting to fund more school nurses and pursue bargaining these programs. If you want to volunteer to administer Diastat: • Fully understand what parents and administrators expect of you.

• Make sure you understand what you are getting into, from how to diagnose seizures to safely storing Diastat. • Review the training that management is offering with your union to determine that it’s satisfactory. • Confirm that anyone who volunteers will be protected against legal claims. • Request updated training at the beginning of each school year to stay current. If you refuse to administer Diastat: •Notify your union first and it can inform the district of your decision. • Contact your union immediately if the school or a parent continues to pressure you to “volunteer,” threatens to change your work shift, or retaliate in any other way.

Some conference-goers took a break from the conference to support Occupy San Diego.

to the podium at the annual conference held October 14-15, including San Diego Assemblyman Marty Block. The recent passage of the Diastat bill was on everyone’s mind. “The Legislature made a horrible mistake I think,” said Block. “It’s out-

Marty Block

Tom Torlakson

side of the area of responsibility you should have. I was proud to be a NO vote on SB 161. I’m also proud to tell you that I had a 100 percent voting record with the CFT.” Block called himself “the warm-up act,” because he was followed at the

podium by Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. “I am puzzled by the governor’s signing of SB 161 and will look into how to deal with this,” said Torlakson. “It’s been my belief that nurses and trained professionals are the ones to help with insulin or Diastat.” Newly elected Michael Bilbrey, the CFT-supported candidate for the CalPERS Board, also addressed the conference, and attendees got a current report on classified issues from labor attorneys. — By Jane Hundertmark, CFT Publications Director VELMA BUTLER COUNCIL PRESIDENT

<

Voter registration is a top priority in 2012 In the historic 2008 election, Blacks and Latinos turned out in record numbers. According to the NAACP, Black voter turnout increased by 15 percent and Hispanic turnout by 28 percent. Going into another historic election in 2012, there is a concerted effort to suppress voters that has escalated to 38 states. This assault on voting rights is substantial, according to experts on electoral laws, and could bar as many as 5 million eligible voters from exercising their right to vote. New York’s Brennan Center warns that this voter suppression will also affect young voters, students, seniors, and the poor. Start asking your colleagues, friends and family if they are registered to vote. If not, start signing them up. And remember: Vote — it’s your right!

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TOP LEFT: SANDY HUFFAKER JR, RIGHT: JANE HUNDERTMARK

Angeleño Mercedes Gaitan poses a question to Tom Torlakson.

SANDY HUFFAKER JR

NOT ONLY DID CLASSIFIED employees have the opportunity to update union skills and meet colleagues from around the state at their annual conference, but sev-

JANE HUDERTMARK

Workshops engage, guest speakers inspire and illuminate, activists rally

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Community College Ready or not, here come Student Success Task Force proposals Rushed process did not inspire confidence, yet some recommendations merit attention

What is student success and who is judging it?

CHRIS HANZO/LOCAL 2121

THE PURPOSE OF the Student Success Task Force was to fund community colleges based on “completions”of courses, degrees, and certificate programs, rather than by enrollments. The colleges strongly opposed such a funding change and SB 1143 (Liu, D-Pasadena) ended up mandating the task force to undertake a broad review of ways to enhance student success in community colleges. The 20-member task force included four faculty appointed by the Statewide Academic Senate and one student, as well as district chancellors and administrators, local trustees, a representative of Senator Liu, and interested participants from outside the system. It has met monthly for the past year.

San Francisco College Federation President Alisa Messer talks to the press about student success.

THE STUDENT SUCCESS TASK Force is rushing to finish up work on its recommendations so the Community College Board of Governors can approve the group’s report at its January 9-10 meeting. Despite the best efforts of the task force and the Chancellor’s Office to operate transparently and seek feedback during this process, strict adherence to the unrealistic timeframe in SB 1143 has polluted the atmosphere. For example, the Community College Consultation Council, comprising leaders of the system’s key constituency groups (including faculty and staff unions) normally vets any recommendations for improving the colleges, but has had to fight to keep from being sidelined. The first and second versions of the report became available only hours before critical meetings where it was scheduled to be discussed; task force mem-

TOP: JANE HUNDERTMARK

Carl Friedlander is an instructor of English, ESL, and linguistics in the Los Angeles Community College District and president of the CFT Community College Council.

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bers have reported that published recommendations differ in significant ways from what discussions called for — not surprising, considering that task force members did not get an opportunity to review print versions before they were published. This is not a process that inspires

tive bills and proposals for regulatory change are introduced. Yet despite these problems and the rushed process, the task forces makes some valid and important points in the report. >>FIRST, community college students, particularly entering students, need far more counseling, guidance, and direction than they are currently receiving. The full funding of matriculation (renamed the Student Support Initiative) should be a top priority and the report should bolster the system’s efforts to secure substantial additional funding for this purpose. If the funding is not forthcoming,

This is not a process that inspires confidence and helps explain why no major faculty, student, staff, administrative, or trustee constituency group from the community college system has endorsed the package from task force. confidence and helps explain why no major faculty, student, staff, administrative, or trustee constituency group from the community college system has endorsed the package from the Student Success Task Force. There are numerous wrongheaded recommendations that bode ill for the colleges and students. Among them are implementing a “student success scorecard” and requiring students (including part-time students!) to declare a “program of study” by the end of their third term. Faculty need to oppose these poorly conceived recommendations if and when legisla-

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the system needs to make it crystal clear to elected officials and the public that the task force recommendations in this area cannot be implemented. >>SECOND, even before the task force was created, the Chancellor’s Office had identified an alarming deficiency in the current approach to

On the web >Read the draft recommendations of the Student Success Task Force report on the Chancellor’s Office website at tinyurl. com/About-SSTF and voice your opinion at studentsuccess.ideascale.com.

enrollment. The data showing that 137,000 first-time students, many recent high school graduates, were unable to register for even a single class in 2009-10 due to their low position in the registration queue should trigger an immediate rethinking of enrollment order. Those who quarrel with task force recommendations on enrollment prioritization should propose a viable alternative method. Recent high school graduates and other first time students should not be made the first victims of budget cuts. The system must do better for these students. >>THIRD, the recommendation to strengthen the Chancellor’s Office warrants serious consideration, though the dollars for this cannot come out of Proposition 98 funding. Currently the Chancellor’s Office is unable to provide needed oversight and enforcement of the 50 percent law or compliance with the Full-Time Obligation Number, or FON. While these are not the kinds of oversight and enforcement envisioned in the task force report, the dysfunctional status quo suggests why the idea of strengthening the system office should not be dismissed as a simple power grab. Faculty should be open to some system office strengthening. Many recommendations made by the Student Success Task Force are rightfully raising opposition, but some proposals could bring constructive changes to the California community college system. — By Carl Friedlander


University Connecting the dots to expose the 1 percent governing UC Reform the regents who use money and politics to augment their wealth and power

“We need the state to increase its funding, while we decrease the power and cost of the expanding administration. Meanwhile, we have to reform the regents as we force the banks and investors to pay for the economy they destroyed. Finally, we have to protect the right of free speech and resist the imposition of austerity measures.” of the students who used to go to the community colleges are now going to the for-profit colleges, such as the University of Phoenix. One of the results of this system is that low-income, minority students are being forced to pay high tuition at lowperforming, for-profit institutions. In turn, these schools, which often have a

power. These internal power brokers protect themselves from any scrutiny by blaming all problems on the state. There is thus a synergy between the state’s failure to support the uni-

ally guaranteed by the federal government, and cannot be erased through bankruptcy, they are a safe bet for financial speculators. On an internal level, the University of California has decided to pour money into an expanded administrative class that not only has increased its earnings but has also increased its

versity and the university’s failure to support the students and faculty. Finally, on a national and global level, we have the concentration of wealth and the violent imposition of austerity policies. In the case of UC, this level of power is represented by the regents, almost all wealthy investors who have gained their power through political connections. In other words, the regents are the 1 percent who use money and politics to augment their wealth and draw money from the 99 percent.  A recent 60 Minutes exposé recently revealed that millionaire members of Congress don’t all start off being rich; in fact, many become wealthy while serving in public office, and much of this wealth is generated by using inside information to gain

advantage in stock and investment trades. Incredibly, members of Congress cannot be charged for insider trading, and they are allowed to trade stocks in areas that they affect through legislation. For instance, Republican Rep. Spencer Bachus made a huge sum of money betting against the U.S. economy after he was briefed by Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke. In another example, former Democratic Congressman Tom Lantos made most of his money from Boeing stocks during the period he helped oversee the government’s investments in this company. In the case of the regents, you have millionaires and billionaires using their political connections to shape markets and reap personal gain. Thus it should be no surprise when the regents are virtually silent when the university uses violence to stop protests. The wealthy always rely on state-sanctioned violence to impose austerity measures and protect their corporate welfare.  The only way we can change the university is if we transform it on these three levels. We need the state to increase its funding, while we decrease the power and cost of the expanding administration. Meanwhile, we have to reform the regents as we force the banks and investors to pay for the economy they destroyed. Finally, we have to protect the right of free speech and resist the imposition of austerity measures. — By Bob Samuels

Bob Samuels is a writing instructor at UCLA and president of UC-AFT. Read Samuel’s blog at changinguniversites.blogspot.com.

N O V E M B E R / D E C E M B E R 2 0 11 C A L I F O R N I A T E A C H E R

TOP: JANE HUNDERTMARK

graduation rate of under 10 percent, suck up over a billion dollars in Pell Grants a year as students take out high-interest subprime student loans. Moreover, since these loans are usu-

JUSTIN SULLIVAN/GETTY IMAGES

THE CURRENT PROTESTS on and off the campuses of the University of California involve three interrelated levels of issues. First, we have the state defunding of higher education due mostly to the Republican refusal to raise revenue during a time of economic recession. Since the Republicans will not support new revenue, the Democrats feel that their only solution is to cut vital social services and higher education, and due in part to this reduction of funding for higher education, tuition is increased and enrollments are decreased. It is important to stress that as tuition in the UC system continues to grow and in-state students are replaced with nonresident students, California students who in the past would have gone to the UCs or the CSUs are now going to community colleges. However, since the community colleges have also experienced budget cuts and enrollment reductions, a lot

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You are the union…

Local Wire

Reporting Local Action Around the State

LOCAL 1936

negotiate a strong contract, and that its emphasis on democratic participation can be a model for other charters,” said Hillary Walker, a sixth grade humanities teacher at the new charter school system that opened in August. Local 1078 President Cathy Campbell said, “We look forward to working together to negotiate a first contract that addresses the unique concerns of charter teachers.”

TONY GRANT

Member reveals UFW…Adult teacher Frank Bardacke, a 25-year member of the Pajaro Valley Federation of Teachers, and union site rep at his adult school, has authored Trampling Out the Vintage: Cesar Chavez and the Two Souls of the United Farm Workers, just published by Verso Press. The book has received topnotch reviews including one from Alexandar Cockburn in CounterPunch: “At the book’s core are the men and women who pick the crops Frank Bardacke in California’s fields and orchards, their skill and endurance, the world they built among themselves, and the ways they shaped the history of the UFW. It is their story ‘refreshingly, sympathetically, and beautifully told’ that makes this book stand apart and will make it stand forever.” Dana Frank, professor of history at UC Santa Cruz and a CFT member, said, “Not

LOCALS 1521, 6262, 1911

Gains for adjuncts… In the new contract negotiated by the Los Angeles College Faculty Guild, part-time faculty who teach more than a 50 percent load per semester will have 100 percent of their vision coverage paid. For adjuncts teaching at or above a 33 percent load, Local 1521 also secured a commitment from the district to contribute 50 percent of the average individual premium cost. Part-Time Faculty United at the College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita won a 10 percent pay increase for adjuncts with a doctoral degree, a 2 percent overall increase on the salary schedule (retroactive to fall semester), additional funding for office hours, and more paid flex hours. And the Coast Federation of Educators secured back pay and compensation for two part-time noninstructional faculty members who were discovered to be working more hours than a full-timer — at a frac-

UC-AFT

only is the research spectacular and his analysis of the UFW as a social movement nuanced and compelling, but he finally places rank-and-file farmworkers at the center of the story as savvy and opinionated activists. Best of all, he’s a superb writer who’s constructed a gripping tale.” >To learn more, go to versobooks.com.

tion of the pay. The combined settlement for the two members totals more than $20,000. LOCAL 1078

Charter teachers go union… Teachers at Realm Middle School and Realm High School became the first charter schools in Berkeley to receive union recognition when their request to join the Berkeley Federation of Teachers was granted by the California Public Employment Relations Board last month. “We felt that the BFT could help us

New contracts…UC librarians, whose pay lags behind that of community college librarians in communities with a UC campus and 22 percent behind that of CSU librarians doing comparable work, added 3 percent to their pay. This despite an illfated ultimatum by the administration: Accept the status quo. This intimidation backfired as librarians were inspired to sign postcards, write articles in local papers, petition and demonstrate in support of continuing merit increases and implementing comparable pay. Within weeks, UC settled retroactively. Lecturers also ratified a new agreement that provides a 3 percent salary increase for nearly all non-Senate faculty. The contract provides for reopeners if the university implements its proposed second tier to the UC Retirement System, a change to its contribution for part-time employees, or implements a new online program that would affect working conditions of lecturers.

ALL LOCALS

Area councils revitalized…To review CFT priorities, discuss local issues, and coordinate political endorsements, local union presidents, executive directors, and political directors have been attending regional meetings called area councils. The CFT Executive Council recently revised the statewide structure to create 17 area councils. For example, on November 1 the Monterey Bay Area Council voted to recommend that the state federation endorse Assemblyman Bill Monning for California Senate, and on November 5, the Executive Council voted to endorse. Monning has a 100 percent voting record on CFT issues.

Rank & Files Axel E. Borg, reference librarian at UC Davis and president of Local 2023, was awarded the prestigious James H. Meyer Distinguished Achievement Award, given annually to a member of the UCD Academic Federation. Borg is a subject specialist in food science and technology, nutrition, plant science, and general agriculture. He is best known for curating UCD’s viticulture and enology collection, considered the finest in the world.

Margaret Shelleda, recently retired executive director of the CFT, traveled to Beirut with AFT to teach Lebanese teachers about union organizing. During the week-long class, she distributed copies of California Teacher to her students and to the principal at a school in the Beqaa Valley. Joel Flores, English teacher and director of political organizing for the Newport-Mesa Federation of Teachers, Local 1794, was named Delegate of the Month by the Orange County Labor Federation in October. Flores was interviewed in California Teacher (Sept-Oct 2011) about his work to bring the voice of Orange County educators to the Federation’s Candidate Academy.

Joseph Bielanski, member of the Peralta Federation of Teachers, Local 1603, was appointed by Gov. Brown to the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges. Bielanski has been an institutional effectiveness coordinator for the Peralta district, articulation officer at two campuses, and president of the district’s academic senate. Paul Karrer, CFT literary bard from the North Monterey County Federation of Teachers, Local 4008, and his former student Rojelio Garcia, just released from San Quentin, told their story, Checkmate, about fifth grade, prison life, and playing chess by mail on the NPR show The Story. You can download the podcast at tinyurl. com/karrer-checkmate.

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C A L I F O R N I A T E A C H E R N O V E M B E R / D E C E M B E R 2 0 11

California Teacher, November - December 2011  

CFT in step with the 99%

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