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September b October 2011 Volume 65, Number 1 

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

Big Squeeze in the classroom Getting by with less… at what cost? PAGE 12

Educators fight for right to union

One teacher steps up for politics

UC lecturer gets rave review

Workers need federal rules changed PAGE 6

How county politics inspire action PAGE 5

Tough teaching earns respect PAGE 15


In this issue


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

Community College 14 University 15 Local Wire 16

  Josh Pechthalt, CFT President

It’s time to ensure tax fairness and equality


The CFT and our partners are committed to the idea that revenue generated through a progressive tax measure benefits several areas of need, not just education.

CFT top leaders Josh, Jeff, and Lacy with Jacobs, chair of the Courage Campaign.



OURS IS A UNION with an impressive record of fighting for quality education and social justice and I feel privileged to be leading this great union at such a pivotal time in history. The strength of the CFT continues to be the women and men who work in our schools and colleges, and under the most difficult of circumstances, provide the best education possible for California’s students. Our talented local leaders and staff do heroic work organizing and leading this organization. However, no amount of skill can overcome the most profound economic crisis since the Great Depression — a deepening crisis that assaults public education and threatens the historic gains of the New Deal and the Civil Rights movement. We cannot let that happen. Last year the CFT played a leadership role in getting Proposition 25 passed. Because of it, the California Legislature adopted an on-time budget for the first time in years. Since the threshold for adopting a budget was a simple majority and not a twothirds vote, Democratic legislators were not forced to make concessions in exchange for Republican votes. However, we knew that Prop. 25

ON THE COVER Kindergarten teacher Marisa Oste says she started her year with old erasers and crayons and her class is limited to two reams of paper a month. Oste teaches at Durfee Elementary School in Pico Rivera which is located in southeastern Los Angeles County. She is a member of the El Rancho Federation of Teachers, Local 3467. PHOTO BY BOB RIHA, JR

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

did not deal with revenue. Restoring funding for education and other essential programs must become our next major task. In recent months, the CFT has been working with other groups on tax reform and building a broad labor-community alliance capable of moving a long-term progressive agenda in California. The strong support from CFT leadership for this idea resulted in other statewide unions stepping forward to help fund research for a November 2012 ballot measure to begin to restore funding for education and other services while tackling the issue of tax inequality in California. The CFT and our partners are committed to the idea that revenue generated through a progressive tax measure benefits several different areas of need, not just education. We believe that the amount generated must be worth the effort required to get it passed. Of course, such a measure will incur the wrath of the anti-tax forces. Even with the distraction of a presidential election, we can expect a massive disinformation campaign to dissuade voters from acting in their self-interest.

SO HOW DO WE WIN? We must be the driving force behind this effort and the places where we work must be the center for our outreach. We must link arms with unions, communitybased organizations such as California Calls, and the faith-based community. We must work with the online community to educate and mobilize people. Through our work with the Courage Campaign and other organizations like we can connect with millions of Americans in creative ways as we build support for this campaign. For more than 30 years we have been besieged by a well-financed effort to discredit the role of government and protect the wealthy and corporations from paying their fair share. As a result, our infrastructure is crumbling, education and other public services have been decimated, and the rich control a greater percentage of wealth than ever before. We cannot continue on this path. With your active involvement, this campaign can be the moment when we declare, “We have had enough. We demand economic justice.” In unity,

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four times a year in September/October, November/ December, February/March and April/May by the California Federation of Teachers, 2550 N. Hollywood Way, Suite 400, Burbank, CA 91505, and mailed to all CFT members and agency fee payers. Annual subscription price: $3 (included in membership dues). For others: $10 per year. Periodicals postage paid at Burbank and additional mailing offices. Postmaster: Send address corrections to California Teacher, 2550 N. Hollywood Way, Suite 400, Burbank, CA 91505. California Teacher is a member of the International Labor Communications Association and the AFT Communicators Network. It is printed by union workers at Pacific Standard Press in Sacramento using soy-based inks on Forest Stewardship Council-certified paper that contains 10 percent post-consumer recycled content. ®

EDITORIAL OFFICE California Federation of Teachers, 1201 Marina Village Pkwy., Suite 115, Alameda, California 94501 Telephone 510-523-5238 Fax 510-523-5262 Email Editor Jane Hundertmark Contributors this issue: Jim Araby, David Bacon, Kenneth Burt, Velma Butler, California Budget Project, Tula Connell, Patty Cox, Megan Dias, Carl Friedlander, Fred Glass, Rick Jacobs, Elaine Johnson, Pat Lerman, Judith Michaels, Joshua Pechthalt, Mindy Pines, Gary Ravani, Bob Samuels, Malcolm Terence, Rosanna Wiebe Graphic Design Kajun Design, Graphic Artists Guild

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California Federation of Teachers

Bob Samuels talks with Rep. Lois Capps in her Capitol office

around the union…

All-Union News

CFT lobbies Congress and engages the Obama administration


ers Briefing organized by the Courage Campaign, an internet-based advocacy group CFT is partnering with to place a progressive tax initiative on the ballot in November of 2012. During the briefing, the president’s top three domestic policy advisors, chief of staff Bill Daley and presidential assistants David Plouffe and Valerie Jarrett, met with the labor and community leaders. Key agency and department officials covered education-related successes including community college and university-based job training programs, an increase in scientific research, and a 50 percent increase in Pell Grants. The main focus during the White


A 10-MEMBER CFT delegation spent September 22 and 23 in the nation’s capitol, lobbying Congress for funds to save educator jobs and meeting with top officials of the Obama administration. The delegation carried a simple message: While we appreciate the president’s efforts to save educator jobs and to tax million-dollar earners, more state flexibility is needed to achieve educational excellence. CFT President Josh Pechthalt and Secretary Treasurer Jeff Freitas led the delegation in a productive meeting with Sen. Barbara Boxer, after which the senator called Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan to express support for the efforts of California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson in creating a state accountability system shaped by CFT and other educators.


White House visit focuses on President Obama’s job creation bill


tas captures a Secretary Treasurer Jeff Frei era. cam ne CFT moment on his pho

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, left, greets Los Angelenos Betty Forrester, right, and Arleen Rivera.

Policy conversations were interspersed with lighter moments, such as when CFT Vice President Betty Forrester realized that a legislative assistant to Rep. Linda Sanchez was her former high school student. CFT and AFT, along with CTA/ NEA and the Courage Campaign, cosponsored a Capitol reception for the Democratic congressional delegation from California. At the event, CFT leaders talked with more members of Congress, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. The delegation also took part in the White House Community Lead-

House visit was the jobs bill. President Obama’s proposal includes $65 billion for education — $30 billion to save 240,000 educator jobs, $30 billion for facility repair and construction, and

$5 billion for community colleges and other higher education initiatives. The president has saved thousands of educator jobs in California as part of the 2009 stimulus package, but many remain at risk in the ongoing economic downturn. Officials were candid about the challenge posed by House Republicans

From our ally: The Courage Campaign “THE CALIFORNIA FEDERATION of Teachers played a crucial role in making the D.C. trip a visit to remember. Friday’s eight hours of policy discussion with nearly all of the top advisors at the White House showed the respect this administration has for progressive California and the willingness to engage even when we clearly do not agree on everything. Collectively we were much stronger than any one group or organization would have been. CFT knows and lives the ethos of building power through collaboration. The Courage Campaign is honored to work shoulder to shoulder with our friends from CFT. “ — Rick Jacobs, Founder and Chair, Courage Campaign


who are opposed to real job creation efforts and having the wealthiest Americans contribute to the recovery. Delegation leaders lunched with the president’s science advisor, John Holdren, who hails from higher education campuses in California. He outlined a plan to create high tech, high-wage jobs, support middle school math and science education, and increase the number of women and minorities who enter the field of science. Early childhood educator Arleen Rivera presented presidential assistant Valerie Jarrett with a large card made by her four-year-old preschool students and invited President Obama to “visit her class and see what our program is all about.” Velma Butler, president of the CFT classified division called it the trip of a lifetime. “Every member should have the opportunity to meet the people making decisions that affect our lives.” — By Kenneth Burt, CFT Political Director

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The CFT delegation: Arleen Rivera, Jeff Freitas, Lacy Barnes, Bob Samuels, Josh Pechthalt, Betty Forrester and Velma Butler. Not shown: Elaine Merriweather, Ken Burt and Jim Araby.

The Berkeley Federation, left, and the Novato Federation, right, put their A+ political art projects to work during the Week of Action.

Will California pull the trigger on public services?

Prop. 25 yields on-time state budget, but revenue shortfall may mean more cuts

Majority Rules Proposition 25 In the spring, state revenues were coming in above projections and Democrats assumed that trend would continue. But to reassure state creditors and avoid the gimmicks relied upon in previous years, the Legislature passed a budget with two “trigger” cuts that will kick in if revenues do not keep pace with projections. (See chart) The cuts start at Tier 1 where $600

What will the “trigger cuts” do? TIER 0

If revenues are short by:


million will be slashed from higher education, childcare, prisons, and health and human services. In Tier 2, K-12 education takes a huge hit through the loss of revenue limit and transportation funding, and community colleges face yet another painful loss of $72 million. Wary eyes are focused on the Department of Finance and the Controller’s Office, which monitor state revenues and cash flow. Both agreed that the upward trend this spring reversed in July, when revenues were more than $500 million behind projections. In August, Controller John Chiang reported cash receipts above projections by about $100 million, but not enough to offset July’s poor showing. September is a big month for revenue in California and the economy’s performance will be closely watched. In November, the report on fiscal trends from the Legislative Analyst may put all these concerns to rest if


AFTER CALIFORNIA VOTERS passed CFT-sponsored Proposition 25 last November, the Legislature came under pressure in June to pass an ontime state budget by a simple majority vote. The Democratic majority still had to contend with the unwillingness of the minority to consider raising revenue, but avoided the drawn-out backroom dealmaking of recent years.

The outcome is:

Less than $1 billion No mid-year cuts. State reserves make up the shortfall. $1 billion to $2 billion Community colleges cut $30 million, UC $100 million, CSU $100 million. Childcare, corrections, and health and human services cut $370 million. No cuts to K-12 education. $2 billion to $4 billion K-12 revenue limits cut a maximum of 4 percent, or about $260 per ADA, with pro-rating if shortfall is less than $4 billion. Transportation funding cut in half, averaging $41 per ADA, much more in districts with large transportation expenses. Community colleges cut an additional $72 million.

it finds revenues are back in line with budget assumptions. If the Analyst’s report is not good, California will have to wait until December when the Department of Finance will assess the revenue picture and determine, which, if any, trigger will be pulled. At the end of the legislative session,

Gov. Brown vetoed a bill that would have repealed the trigger language, saying “it would have undermined investor confidence in California.” But some legislators, trying to avoid more drastic cuts to public services, are calling for any shortfall to be rolled into next year’s budget. — By Patty Cox, CFT Research Specialist

Union urges vigilance and action on retirement issues


CFT backs candidates in board elections With the retirement of Carolyn Widener, a long-time faculty advocate on the CalSTRS Board and a member of the Los Angeles College Faculty Guild, CFT is endorsing Sharon Hendricks for the board seat representing community college faculty. Hendricks, also a Guild member, has won the endorsement of numerous organizations. Part-time and full-time community college faculty who are members of CalSTRS are eligible to vote in the election that is now underway. (For voting information and Q&A with Hendricks, see page 14) Another CFT-endorsed candidate won a seat on the CalPERS Board this summer. The race, which required a runoff, went


to Michael Bilbrey, first vice president of the California School Employees Association. Bilbrey has an MBA and coordinates bookstore operations at Citrus Community College.

20 percent gains each year for the next four years to achieve full funding in 30 years. Ehnes said a string of gains like that would be “an impractical expectation.”

legislative votes to put a tax extension proposal on the ballot, but fervor for the idea died down when those votes did not materialize.

Don’t sign on the dotted line Anti-

Portfolio yields 20 percent In another round of

Pension “reform” as bargaining chip The attacks on public employee unions and their pensions in Wisconsin were widely publicized but workers in California, with a Democrat for governor and Democratic majorities in the Legislature, are not exactly being spared. The governor offered up pension reform when he was looking for a few Republican

positive news, both the state’s giant public pension funds report solid returns on their portfolios — 20.7 percent from CalPERS and 23.1 percent from CalSTRS for fiscal year 2010-11. Despite these gains, the 25 percent losses from fiscal year 2008-09 continue to drag down both funds for the long term. CalSTRS chief Jack Ehnes says the fund still requires legislative approval to increase contributions and absent that, the fund would need to better more than

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Michael Bilbrey

Sharon Hendricks

tax groups are loading up on anti-worker ballot initiatives. One would amend the state constitution to eliminate collective bargaining rights for teachers, nurses, police officers, firefighters and other public employees. The second would increase the minimum retirement age for most public employees to 65 and for public safety officers to 58. Another would up the income tax rate for the few individuals earning pensions greater than $100,000. The groups have registered the proposals with the Secretary of State so they can begin collecting the more than 800,000 signatures required by the February 2012 deadline. Don’t sign on the dotted line! — By Malcolm Terence, CFT Reporter

Coast College Federation leader Dean Mancina talks with county union leaders.

Newport-Mesa Federation President Kimberly Claytor helped lay the groundwork.

Newport-Mesa English teacher takes on new role of political organizing

JOEL FLORES is the director of political organizing for the Newport-Mesa

Federation of Teachers, one of the first local unions to receive a grant from CFT under its Political Leaders United to Create Change program. During the coming year, Flores will work full-time for the nearly 1000-member union based in the Orange County city of Costa Mesa. California Teacher interviewed Flores about his new role with the union.

Why do you want to work for the union this year? In Costa Mesa where I live, work, and raise my family, politics have torn our city apart. In March, the Costa Mesa City Council majority voted to lay off nearly half of the city’s workforce. However, the citizens of Costa Mesa — Republicans and Democrats, union and non-union — came together in a tremendous and unprecedented show of solidarity to challenge their public officials. When an independent audit revealed that Costa Mesa’s financial situation was in fact, “better than most” cities in California, the Wis-

consin-esque political motives of the Council majority were exposed. A judge issued an injunction, temporarily halting the layoffs because the workers’ collective bargaining rights were violated. Our union is in a fight for its life — for the very right to exist. I want to do more than I have done in the past to combat extremist politicians who want to privatize public services. As an educator, what unique perspective can you bring to political work? I’d like to spend my life teaching English and going surfing as much as possible, but I can’t do that anymore because the stakes are too high. It’s the public’s right to have ownership over fire and police departments, health and human services, and schools. Also a free and appropriate public education is a right, not a privilege. If we don’t fight for it, we’ll lose it. What would you like to see changed in the K-12 system? I’d like to see nurses get full staffing appropriation at all schools. I want school lunches to contain less pro-

Unions combine resources to build power BUILDING ON THE successful member mobilization during the 2010 election, the CFT is once again combining local, state, and national priorities into one plan, the Strategic Campaign Initiative. The new campaign pools resources to increase union membership and help lead real reform efforts to protect the public sector and public education. The plan includes five components. Local union political action through the Political Leaders Unified

to Create Change program that has already awarded grants to 12 local unions allowing them to hire political organizers. Coalition-building with community groups and Community Solidarity Grants. Local area councils for CFT local unions to join forces in geographic regions. Organizing campaigns to bring new members into the Federation. Training to inspire and activate members.

Joel Flores met with leaders of Orange County education unions to make joint endorsements.

cessed food and have more vegetarian and organic options. I want class sizes reduced to those of other industrialized countries. I want research to determine if charter schools perform as they promise. I would like to see everyone pay their fair share of taxes. What are your goals as political organizer for Local 1794? I’ll be working to increase membership in our local COPE (Committee for Political Education), raise more money for political action, improve our communications systems, and visit with members to talk about the political issues that directly affect them in their classrooms. What are your goals in the larger community? Our local has been working tirelessly to form coalitions with labor and community groups. I would like to see strengthened relationships with other unions in the county and increased participation and political coordination with the Orange County Labor Federation. I want to identify and work with progressive community organizations including local churches, and identify

and endorse candidates for the board of education and other public offices. What changes do you hope to see by General Election 2012? There will be three open seats for the Newport-Mesa Board of Education in November 2012. We need to get some balance on this board. We need board members who respect educators and who share our vision for restoring the educational system. My first project has been to help coordinate a Candidate Academy with the Orange County Labor Federation. Our union will be making endorsements together with other education unions in the county, including AFT affiliates, CTA, and CSEA. The education unions will then take their joint endorsements to the Labor Federation. What would you say to members who want to help create change? First, I would ask them to be the best teacher, nurse, librarian, psychologist, speech or language therapist, or classified employee they can be. Then I would ask them to help and support their colleagues. And finally, I would say, “Get active by joining COPE and volunteering time for your union.”

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How long have you been teaching? I began teaching in the middle of the 1997-98 school year, when Gov. Gray Davis began to implement legislation that infused billions of dollars into our state’s education system. Dot-com was booming, revenues were up, and districts were scrambling to hire teachers on emergency credentials to reduce class size. Education was a rising profession, and that was exciting to me.


Divisive Orange County politics inspire Joel Flores to step up


Defending the right to form a union CFT presses for overdue changes to federal rules governing

BRANDII GRACE MOVED to Los Angeles in 2009 when she was offered a teaching contract at the Los Angeles Film School. She was promised $70,000 a year to teach digital game design, a $20,000 pay cut from her previous job. Her fiancée had to stay behind but, still in their 20s, they felt

the move to the heart of the entertainment industry made the sacrifice worth it. Established in 1999, the Film School is owned by Florida-based Full Sail Film School. While the studios that hire graduates negotiate with unions in the film and recording

industry all the time, Full Sail schools are non-union employers. They are diploma mills that feed off federal loans taken out by students who pay annual tuition of $18-23,000 for a two-year associate degree. Once Grace started to teach at the L.A. Film School, the school began

Toward fair process: NLRB proposes needed changes EXPERIENCES OF WORKERS like Brandii Grace show that the current NLRB rules let recalcitrant employers make a mockery of union representation elections. A June report from the UC Berkeley Labor Center concludes that the NLRB process delays these elections. It describes nurses who waited more than five years for an election, and cement plant workers whose initial 87 percent support for a union was


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destroyed after company executives flew in to hold captive audience meetings and meet with workers one-on-one. To address this unlawful anti-union campaigning, the Obama-appointee-led NLRB has proposed regulation changes. On June 30, Grace and workers from other industries testified before a congressional briefing about the proposed regulations. She described how she lost her job at the Los Angeles Film School

as evidence that the National Labor Relations Act is broken, and workers desperately need stronger regulations. But industry is fighting back. The Chamber of Commerce has picked this as an important battle. They, along with the National Association of Manufacturers and the notoriously antiworker Koch brothers, have launched a ferocious assault against the proposed NLRB election rules.

making radical changes to faculty working conditions. Classes were cut, new online components were created, and teachers were assigned to courses in which they had no experience. “At first, they promised extra compensation,” Grace remembers. “Then they said we were being changed from salaried employees to hourly, but that we’d get overtime for the additional work.”

“The federal law is broken. There’s no effective deterrent, no balance sheet that employers have to worry about. It’s no surprise that workers are reluctant to do this.” — Brandii Grace

Brandii Grace turned to CFT just as the union was ramping up its commitment to bring the benefits of organizing to non-union teachers.

Film school teacher fired for union organizing at private college

they collected union cards, and filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board signed by 70 percent of the faculty. Grace’s co-workers chose her to lead the union organizing committee. WHEN A PRIVATE EMPLOYER like the Los Angeles Film School decides to fight the efforts of its workers to form a union, there is very little holding it back, despite the rights written into U.S. labor law almost three quarters of a century ago. The National Labor Relations Act not only grants workers the right to organize into unions, but encourages them to do so to level the power imbalance with their employers. The law sets up an election process in which workers supposedly can freely choose a union. And it says that it’s illegal for an employer to fire or punish any worker who exercises these rights…in theory. But when the Film School workers filed a petition for a representation election with the NLRB, all hell broke loose. The school hired IRI

work, of insubordination, and even of becoming violent. “They handed me a memo full of lies that were dramatic and extreme,” Grace charges. She was suspended for three days, and when she came back, she was fired. It was her 30th birthday. But Brandii Grace didn’t give up. The Film School began holding mandatory meetings to make its ani-

In April the hearing officer ruled that the L.A. Film School had violated the law. He ordered Grace reinstated with back pay. The school, however, is appealing the decision to the NLRB in Washington, D.C., a process that will probably last at least a year. The school can then appeal the NLRB’s decision in the court system to drag things out.

“This is about justice. That’s what I’m fighting for. I’ve never lost hope that justice would prevail, nor faith in the idea that people should continue to stand up for their rights.” — Brandii Grace, digital game design teacher mosity toward the union clear. Each teacher was called in for a private chat with her or his supervisor. “Managers would run down the hall screaming at someone, ‘You signed the card!’” Grace reported. And she began to get calls at night from her fellow workers telling her how scared they were. CFT FILED UNFAIR labor practice charges in March, after she was fired,

For Grace, being out of work and continuing to support the union has been an ordeal. After her money ran out, she moved in with her mom, and her fiancée went to live with his family in Texas. Finally, her fiancée came to Los Angles, found a job, and they got another apartment. “But we almost didn’t make it,” Grace says. “The federal law is broken,” Grace concludes. “There’s no effective deter-


elections The school then announced that teachers would only be paid for time spent in class, cutting most assignments to 8-16 paid hours a week. “They weren’t going to pay anything for the three hours grading, advising, and planning curriculum for every hour we spend in class,” she says. With their incomes about to plunge, the faculty rebelled. When the school demanded that teachers sign agreements accepting the new arrangements, Grace urged them not to and suggested they seek union representation. That was a big step. She’d grown up suspicious of unions because of earlier family experiences, but every government agency she contacted told her there was no legal way to stop the new rules without a union contract. “We found the CFT, which was ready to help us move right away,” Grace recalls. Over the next month

Which laws govern your right to have a union? CFT REPRESENTS EDUCATORS working in public schools and colleges as well as many working in private sector schools and universities. Different laws govern the organizing rights of each set of workers. Private sector workers are protected by the National Labor Relations Act signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression in 1935. Its purpose is to guarantee the rights of employees to bargain collectively.

The NLRA is enforced by the National Labor Relations Board. Because the U.S. President appoints board members, it has been more or less worker-friendly under different administrations. Public sector workers are protected by California laws. Workers in K-12 school districts and community colleges are covered by the Educational Employment Relations Act. UC and CSU employees are protected by the Higher Education EmployerEmployee Relations Act. The state

Public Employment Relations Board enforces both laws. The governor appoints board members. The EERA (also known as the Rodda Act, after state Senator Al Rodda, who had been president of a CFT local union) came only after the Federation’s decades-long struggle in the state Legislature to win collective bargaining for K-12 and community college educators. The EERA was signed into law in 1975 by then-Governor Jerry Brown, who also signed HEERA in 1979.

NLRA EERA HEERA Consultants, a union-busting firm from Michigan. With its advice, school managers set Grace up to be fired, and prepared a classic campaign of psychological warfare against its own faculty. “We were immediately told we were all supervisors, and that our salaried status would be restored,” she recalls. Her boss told her they knew she was the union leader and threatened her. She was accused of not turning in

and held a protest rally. But six months later, the NLRB still hadn’t completed its investigation. The union withdrew its petition for the election because the level of fear was so intense that there was no ability to vote freely. The NLRB regional office issued a complaint shortly afterwards, charging the school with firing Grace illegally. A hearing was held in January.

rent, no balance sheet that employers have to worry about. It’s no surprise that workers are reluctant to do this.” She might get back pay someday. “That’s not important to me, really,” she says. “This is about justice. That’s what I’m fighting for. I’ve never lost hope that justice would prevail, nor faith in the idea that people should continue to stand up for their rights.” — By David Bacon, CFT Reporter

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9 things you need

The California Budget Project looks at who pays

to know

taxes in California, who doesn’t, and how California’s


tax systems compare to those of other states

Who pays taxe$ in F

ormer Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once noted that, “Taxes are what we pay for civilized society.” State and local taxes support our public schools and colleges, streets and highways, public hospitals, parks and beaches, the public health infrastructure that ensures safe food and water, as well as a range of other services. While the primary purpose of a tax system is to raise the money needed to support public services, tax policy can also serve as an end in itself, providing incentives for taxpayers to engage in desired activities.


How much do Californians pay in state and local taxes?

Measured as a share of family income, California’s lowest-income families pay the most in taxes. The bottom fifth of the state’s non-elderly

families, with an average income of $12,600, spent 11.1 percent of their income on state and local taxes. In comparison, the wealthiest 1 percent, with an average income of $2.3 million, spent 7.8 percent of their income on state and local taxes. The share of income California’s families spend on state and local taxes is a function of the state’s relatively progressive personal income tax and regressive sales and excise taxes. Higher-income families pay a larger share of their income in income taxes. Lower-income families pay a greater share of their income in sales and property taxes.


Who pays income taxes in California?

California’s tax thresholds — the income level at which an individual or family begins to pay income taxes

Recent growth in corporate profits has outpaced corporate taxes paid 200% 175%


125% 100% 75%


25% 0%

16.5% Total state net income of corporations

State corporate tax liability

Source: Franchise Tax Board



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Total adjusted gross income of personal income taxpayers

24.2% Personal income tax liability

How much does the “average” California family earn?

California’s 2009 median household income — the income at which half of all households earned more and half earned less — was $56,134. The median income for all California personal income taxfilers was $35,923 in 2008, the most recent year for which data are available. The 2008 median income of Californians filing joint tax returns was $68,981.




— were lowered by changes made as part of the February 2009 budget agreement. The size of the dependent tax credit — the tax credit claimed by families with children or other dependents — was cut from $309 to $98 dollars, which significantly lowers the income level at which families with children begin to pay income taxes. In 2010, for example, a family of four with two children began to pay income taxes when their income reached $36,591. In 2008, in contrast, a family of four did not begin to owe income taxes until their income reached $51,335.

Who pays the corporate income tax in California?

Small businesses pay a very small share of the corporate income tax. While 722,358 corporations filed tax returns, the 1.7 percent with taxable incomes of $1 million or more paid 86.7 percent of the 2008 corporate income tax. The most costly corporate tax credit is the Research and Development Credit. In 2008, 2,483 corpo-

rations claimed $1.2 billion in R&D credits, an average of $497,197 per firm. The most-used credits are the state’s Enterprise Zone Hiring and Enterprise Zone Sales and Use Tax Credits, with 4,718 corporations claiming $277.5 million in 2008, an average of $58,809 per firm.


How does the growth in corporate income compare to that for individuals?

The available data show that the recent growth in corporate profits reported for California tax purposes far exceeds that of income reported by individual taxpayers. Between 2001 and 2009, the total adjusted gross income of California’s personal income taxpayers increased by 16.5 percent. In contrast, the net profits reported by corporations for California tax purposes nearly tripled, rising by 192 percent.


How do California’s tax collections compare to those of other states?

California is a moderate tax state. In 2009-10, California ranked 15th among the 50 states with respect to state taxes as a percentage of personal income. California’s ranking is up from 21st in 2008-09, a reflection of increased revenues from the temporary increases in the personal income tax, which expired on December 31, 2010, and the sales tax and vehicle license fees, which expired on June 30. California ranks relatively high with respect to personal and corporate income tax collections. The state

California? 2008 and 2009 tax deals end up costing California nearly $2 billion per year


The Buffett Rule: “Stop coddling the rich”

Losses will continue permanently

WARREN BUFFET, one of the world’s richest men, has said repeatedly that U.S. taxes should be higher on him and his fellow billionaires and millionaires. In August, he laid it on the line in a New York Times op-ed piece. Buffett pointed out that he is taxed at only a 17.4 percent rate — while the office workers on his staff are taxed between 33 percent and 41 percent. While Tea Party Republicans in Congress fought off any moves to help balance the budget through higher taxes on the extremely rich, Buffett had this advice for Congress: Stop coddling the rich. Here’s what he recommends: “…for those making more than $1 million — there were 236,883 such households in 2009 — I would raise rates immediately on taxable income in excess of $1 million, including, of course, dividends and capital gains. And for those who make $10 million or more — there were 8,274 in 2009 — I would suggest an additional increase in rates.” Buffett said, “My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.” And his voice was heard: In September President Obama proposed new tax rates for those making more than $1 million to ensure they pay at least the same percentage of their earnings as middle-income taxpayers. — By Tula Connell, AFL-CIO Now blog



$1,000 $500


$0 ($500)












($2,000) ($2,500)






Source: Franchise Tax Board

ranks relatively low with respect to state property, vehicle fuel, tobacco, and alcoholic beverage taxes.


How have California’s tax policies changed over time?

Over the past three decades, the cost of funding state services has shifted from corporations to personal income tax filers. The Department of Finance estimates that personal income tax receipts will provide 51.5 percent of General Fund revenues in 2010-11, up from 35.4 percent in 1980-81. Corporate tax receipts are expected to provide 12.4 percent of General Fund revenues in 2010-11, down from 14.6 percent in 1980-81. New, increased, and expanded corporate tax breaks and the 1996 corpo-

rate tax rate reduction are responsible for the decline in the share of state revenues provided by the corporate income tax. Additional corporate tax cuts included in the September 2008 and February 2009 budget agreements will result in a loss of nearly $2 billion per year when fully implemented.


Who doesn’t pay taxes in California?

In 2008, the most recent year for which data are available, 611,318 taxpayers reported incomes of $200,000 or more. However, 2,431 of these households paid no California personal income tax. The number of high-income “no tax” returns more than quadrupled between 1997 and 2008, rising from 579 to 2,431.


How many Californians pay sales tax on goods purchased from outside the state?

California loses more than $1 billion each year in unpaid sales taxes on goods purchased from outside the state when online retailers refuse to collect the taxes owed on consumer purchases. Consumers and businesses are still legally obligated to pay the taxes for these purchases, but few do because they are unaware that they owe the tax. In 2010, just 61,000 out of 16.9

million taxpayers paid the tax when they filed California personal income returns. The Board of Equalization estimates that retailers outside the state will fail to collect $795 million in these taxes from consumers and $350 million from businesses in 2010-11.

The California Budget Project provides timely and objective independent analysis on state fiscal and economic policy issues with the goal of improving public policies affecting the economic and social well-being of lowand middle-income Californians. >To learn more, go to

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CFT fights privatization, taxation, medication battles Labor works on social justice issues with Brown administration THE FIRST YEAR OF THE BROWN ADMINISTRATION saw positive gains in collective

bargaining rights and labor issues. Lobbyists shepherded two CFT-sponsored bills to the governor’s desk. One expands the law giving K-14 educators the right to organize. The other, brought forward by the CFT English Language Learners Committee, awards a Seal of Biliteracy to high school graduates proficient in English and one or more other languages.

Organizing education employees Unknown AB 501 (Campos, D-San Jose) expands the definition of exclusive representative and public school employer in the Educational Employment Relations Act to include lunchtime aides and Joint Power Authority employees who were previously barred by two Public Employment Relations Board decisions from organizing into unions. State Seal of Biliteracy Unknown AB 815 (Brownley, D-Santa Monica) establishes a state level Seal of Biliteracy to be affixed to the diploma or transcript of a high school graduate who has attained proficiency in speaking, reading, and writing skills in one or more languages in addition to English.

DEFEATED OR STALLED BAD BILLS With state funds dwindling, legislators have begun proposing “creative” approaches to student success at schools and colleges. One of the most harmful, AB 515, created a “toll road” through community colleges by offering extension courses for credit classes, linking course access to a student’s ability to pay. To help defeat this first step toward privatization, CFT, its local unions, central labor councils, the California Labor Federation, the NAACP, and other community college advocacy groups launched a full-court press. AB 515 passed the Assembly and moved to the Senate. After a two-hour hearing in the Senate Education Committee, legislators recognized that AB 515 signaled a significant departure from the open access mission of the community colleges. As a result, the author pulled the bill from the agenda, halting its progress for 2011.

who undergo voluntary training to administer an emergency anti-seizure medication to epileptic students. The drug, called Diastat, is injected rectally to a child experiencing a seizure. (See full story page 13)

STRENGTHENING COLLECTIVE BARGAINING RIGHTS In addition to successful lobbying that landed the union’s sponsored bill, AB 501, on the governor’s desk, CFT stood with other unions to improve the right to organize for child care workers and farmworkers, and clarify the standing of decisions made by the Public Employment Relations Board. Organizing family child care workers vetoed AB 101 (Perez, J., D-Los Angeles) authorizes family child care providers to form, join, or participate in organizations, whether by a single provider organization through an election process overseen by the Public Employment Relations Board or a by neutral third party designated by the board, and prohibits retaliation against a provider for joining or refusing to join such an organization.

Two-tiered system in community colleges STALLED AB 515 (Brownley, D-Santa Monica) allows a community college district that meets certain requirements to pilot an extension program offering credit courses. Asking volunteers to inject Diastat signed SB 161 (Huff, R-Diamond Bar) asks unlicensed, non-medical school employees


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Organizing farmworkers UNKNOWN SB 126 (Steinberg, D-Sacramento) ensures that farmworkers have the right to decide whether to join a union without fear of losing their jobs or threat of deportation. No unlawful strike damages UNKNOWN SB 857 (Lieu, D-Torrance) prohibits the Public Employment Relations Board from mandating that unions pay employers damages for strike preparations.

SIGNED AB 155 (Calderon, D-Whittier)

amends tax laws relating to the collection of taxes by online retailers. — By Judith Michaels, CFT Legislative Representative



Fair taxation of Amazon proportions Gov. Brown signed a stand-off compromise on September 23 ending a summer-long threat by online retailing giant Amazon, which threatened a referendum after California imposed a requirement to collect taxes on purchases made by state residents. In return for a one-year tax-collection delay, Amazon agreed to abandon its referendum campaign. CFT hopes for enactment of a federal law during the next year.

Gov. Brown talks with students who worked on the Dream Act and AB 540 issues.

The DREAM Act California leads the way ABOUT 65,000 STUDENTS who graduate from state high schools each year are undocumented. Many of these students came to California at an early age, were raised here and excel at school, and only upon graduation learn of their undocumented status that requires them to pay nonresident tuition at a public college or university. To address this unfairness, Gov. Davis in 2001 signed legislation allowing students who live in-state and attend three years

of high school in-state to pay instate tuition. In the years since Davis signed AB 540, the CFT has stepped up efforts to help these students obtain financial aid. Most efforts stalled or were vetoed by Gov. Schwarzenegger. This year, CFT joined in coalition with colleges, universities, unions, student associations, cities, and community-based organizations to send two bills of national significance to Gov. Brown. Collectively called the California DREAM Act, these bills are a 

significant step forward in gaining support for the federal DREAM Act, which aims to give these students legal status and make them eligible for federal loans. SIGNED AB 130 (Cedillo, D-Los Angeles)

will make students who are exempt from paying nonresident tuition under AB 540 eligible for privately funded student aid programs and scholarships.

UNKNOWN AB 131 (Cedillo) will allow

the same set of students to access Cal Grants and other state-funded financial aid.

Early educator Lorraine Zapata accepted the legislative resolution recognizing CFT as an “All-Star.”

Mark your Calendar

CFT hires new executive director and lobbyist

UC Berkeley Labor Center names CFT an All-Star act IN ACADEMY AWARD STYLE, the CFT was honored with an “Act of Inspiration” award from the UC Berkeley Labor Center at its annual “Evening with the All-Stars.” On September 22, CFT was awarded for its leading role in the fight to fund public education and the successful Week of Action. Sharing the limelight with the California Teachers Association and the California School Employees Association, all three unions were honored for bringing hope to working people.

DANIEL MARTIN joins CFT as executive director, bringing 25 years of experience in the labor movement to the union’s top staff position. For most of those years, Martin worked for United Healthcare Workers West. For 12 years, he worked as assistant to the president, coordinating union-wide projects and overseeing the union’s education, research, communications, and political departments. Prior to that, he served in a number of UHW staff positions Daniel Martin including field representative. When Martin joined UHW in 1985, the union had 24,000 members. By 2009, membership had grown to 150,000 with 30,000 members contributing to the union’s political action fund each month. The union was recognized for its high rate of volunteerism and negotiating the

best healthcare industry contracts in the nation. Martin is based out of the CFT Bay Area office. JENNIFER MORENO joins CFT as a legislative representative based in the Sacramento office. As a former teacher, Moreno knows the challenge and importance of moving California’s education policy forward. She taught high school and middle school English and English Language Development in Orange County and holds Jennifer Moreno a secondary credential in English and Social Science. Moreno has worked as a legislative aide for members of the California Senate and Assembly Education Committees. She began her legislative career by entering the California State Fellowship Program to better understand the policymaking that affects teaching practice in California.

Dependents of members receive CFT scholarships Raoul Teilhet

SCHOLARSHIPS THIS SUMMER, THE CFT awarded 19 scholarships to continuing college students through its Raoul Teilhet Scholarship Program. Applications are now available for the 2012 Raoul Teilhet Scholarship Program. Students enrolled in four-year courses of study are eligible for $3000; those enrolled in two-year courses of study are eligible for $1000. The deadline for high school seniors to apply is January 10. Award selection is based on academic achievement, special talents and skills, participation in extracurricular activities, community service, financial need, and a 500-word essay on a social issue of the applicant’s choice. Learn more and download an application at or phone the CFT Costa

Mesa office at (714) 754-6638 to have one mailed to you. Continuing college students who received scholarships are listed below with the names of their parents or guardians who are CFT members. Brittany Carter, daughter of Lorraine Carter, Poway Federation of Teachers Christopher Coleman, son of James Coleman, United Teachers Los Angeles Sinead Coleman, daughter of James Coleman, United Teachers Los Angeles Michael Dekovich, son of Eugenia SumnikLevins, Los Angeles College Faculty Guild Breanna Duncan, daughter of Gray and Janis Duncan, Ojai Federation of Teachers Cami Eickemeyer, daughter of James Eickemeyer, Cuesta College Federation of Teachers  Andrew Emard, son of Paulette Emard, Oxnard Federation of Teachers and School Employees Lawrence Huang, son of Ansha Qian, El Camino College Federation of Teachers

Julia Maier, daughter of Mark Maier, Glendale College Guild Joshua McCoy, son of Ilo McCoy, Greater Santa Cruz Federation of Teachers Keith Olguin, son of Francisca Wentworth, Jefferson AFT Federation of Teachers Sarah Palmer, daughter of Richard Palmer, State Center Federation of Teachers Evan Reid, son of John and Terry Reid, Victor Valley Part-Time Faculty United Sarah Seniuk, daughter of Vicki Fabbri, Cabrillo College Federation of Teachers Lily Skeel, daughter of Brian Skeel, Pajaro Valley Federation of Teachers Lauren Stewart, daughter of Robin Stewart, Gilroy Federation of Teachers and Paraprofessionals Charity Walden, daughter of Carla Walden, Jefferson Elementary Federation of Teachers Brian Webb Almanza, son of Jeri Webb, Poway Federation of Teachers Katelynn Wiley, daughter of Peggy Wiley, Petaluma Federation of Teachers

AFT Civil, Human & Women’s Rights Conference offers a great line-up of plenaries addressing issues of social justice and will be held October 27-30 in Detroit. NAEYC Annual Conference & Expo hosted by the National Association for the Education of Young Children on October 31–November 6 in Orlando, Florida, explores best practices in the field of early education. Learn more at Executive Council meets November 5 at the CFT Bay Area office in Alameda. Division Councils of K-12, classified and community colleges meet December 3 at the Hilton Oakland Airport. AFT Collective Bargaining Conference offers practical skills for new and experienced union negotiators and will be held December 7-9 in Baltimore. > Learn more at Application deadline for high school seniors to apply for a CFT Raoul Teilhet Scholarship is January 10. Executive Council meets January 21 at the CFT office in Burbank. EC/K-12 Council Conference will be held February 3 at the Hilton Oakland Airport, an annual CFT event that examines issues of importance to K-12 teachers and early educators. Committees of the CFT meet February 4 at the Hilton Oakland Airport. 2011~2012

CFT Vice President Dennis Kelly spoke to actvist efforts.

Get your CFT Pocket Calendar! IF YOU DID NOT get a CFT Pocket Calendar from your local union, it’s not too late to get the union’s award-winning 16-month academic year calendar. >To receive a calendar, send $1 for shipping and handling to the CFT Bay Area Office, 1201 Marina Village Pkwy., Suite 115, Alameda, CA 94501.

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Around CFT

Jefferson teachers grade a variety of student work at their May grade-in.

Pre-K and K-12 The big squeeze in the classroom

From crayons to laptops, lack of basic resources is new “normal”



A tale of two polls


For more than 25 years Phi Delta Kappan Magazine and the Gallup organization have conducted opinion polls on attitudes towards public education. This year’s results show the strongest public support for public schools and teachers in the poll’s history. Three of four participants indicated high levels of trust in teachers and two of three would support their child becoming a teacher. A majority would side with education unions in disputes over collective bargaining rights. Poll results from the National Center for Educational Information, on the other hand, are alarming. One-third of new teachers enter the profession through an “alternative” credentialing program, and many support performance pay, elimination of seniority rights, and using student test data for pay and evaluation. And the reason many teachers give for not joining the union: No one asked them. Remember to reach out and welcome new teachers to our union.


SHIREEN GOUDARZI, a first grade teacher in Pajaro Valley School District, finds the “biggest change is the lack of individual attention I can give kids.” Her class grew from 18 to 28 in two years, with an increasing percentage of struggling students. “Normally you have a couple of kids below grade level and you can work with one or two while the rest of your class worked independently. But now I have 13 who need extra help.” Goudarzi says she and teachers at her school are exhausted. “Morale is at an all-time low.” As it becomes increasingly difficult to give kids needed feedback, she laments, “We’re not helping our students reach their full potential.” BOB RIHA JR

DURING HER 10 years at El Rancho Unified School District, Marisa Oste has been laid off the last four. Though she’s been called back each year, the recall notices arrive later and later. Oste’s job insecurity is getting harder to bear. Married with one daughter, she’s given up dreams of buying a home. She can’t purchase necessary supplies for her kindergarten class with her own money as she’s done in the past. “We started the year with old erasers and crayons,” she explains. Her class is limited to two reams of paper a month. A greater percentage of students “are entering kindergarten already behind by as much as half a year,” says Oste. “They can’t write their names or count. They lack social skills like waiting turns or raising hands. And

Marisa Oste says more students are entering kindergarten behind and fears they won’t be able to catch up. Oste has been laid off and recalled each of the past four years.

we’re not talking about impoverished kids. Both parents may be working, but they can’t afford preschool.” With an increasingly rigorous curriculum, she fears that budget cuts will make it more difficult for those kids already behind to catch up.

“We started the year with old erasers and crayons.” — Marisa Oste, kindergarten teacher

Throughout California, educators have lost jobs, class sizes have swollen, and essential services have been cut. One unified district, for example, has lost almost $600 per student since 2007. If the “trigger cuts” kick in later this year, per student funding will drop another $260 per student. (See page 4) IN HER THIRTY-SECOND year of teaching, Audrey Varner is less fearful of layoff, but is troubled by the impact of budget cuts.

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Her kindergarten class in North Monterey County School District has grown from 20 kids to more than 30 in the past few years, with 33 last year. “That’s a 60 percent population increase. But I don’t have 60 percent more time.” She worries about not being able to “speak with each child each day or to listen to them ask and answer questions” as required to assess number and language skills. It takes almost twice as long to cover the curriculum and she has “done away with most things that used to take a lot of prep, such as science and art activities.” “It’s unmanageable!” Varner exclaims. “There’s not enough space for everyone to sit at a table. When I put out the kids’ rest mats, they carpet the room wall-to-wall.”

On the web >Read a longer version of this article in the online version of California Teacher at

THE HIGH SCHOOL students of special education teacher Debbie Jacobs-Levine are not getting the assistive technology they need. Instead of a laptop or tablet, they are offered an obsolete AlphaSmart, a full-size keyboard with a three-line dot matrix display that must be synced to a computer. Software often can’t be updated. Jacobs-Levine works in the Jefferson Union High School District in San Mateo County. A special education teacher for 28 years, she says the district’s outdated technology system can no longer support an online subscription service that helped students with transition planning, as legally required in their IEPs. Her colleagues in counseling now support 700-800 kids instead of 300400 students. Students often can’t plan courses of study or get letters of recommendation. “Everyone is just frazzled because of the extra demands on them. They don’t have the energy to do more because they are doing so much,” Jacobs-Levine concluded, “It’s never been so bad, for so long, for so many.” —By Mindy Pines, CFT Reporter, and Jane Hundertmark, Editor

Velma Butler meets Congresswoman Janice Hahn in Washington.

Classified K-12 school employees and parents lose with Diastat bill New law asks employee volunteers to administer anti-seizure medication rectally especially classified workers, in the position of having to “volunteer” when their supervisors ask them to, exposing them to potential retribution if they refuse. The bill provides no funding for training, and minimal training is not enough for any worker to feel competent about performing this complicated task. School nurses agree: Pretending that professional positions can

individuals with disabilities in programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Education. A 504 is a document mandated by this federal law developed between the district and the parent of a child with special needs. For example, a child who has grand mal seizures needs a prescription for an anti-sei-

districts and in the state Capitol, and wrote letters to the governor. “We are fighting together with parents so they can get the best care and education for their children,” concluded Freitas. — By CFT Staff


CLASSIFIED EMPLOYEES, paraprofessionals, and teachers lobbied all spring and summer against a bill that pressures K-12 school workers into volunteering to perform a complex and delicate medical procedure in an emergency situation.

Classified workers testify against SB 161 in a legislative hearing.

The classified delegation gat hers force in the hallways of the stat e Capitol




can’t fall. Put person on their side where they

to the cap. Get syringe. Note: seal pin is attached

Get medicine.




remove cap Push up with thumb and pull to is removed from syringe. Be sure seal pin with the cap.

Turn person on side facing you.

jelly. Lubricate rectal tip with lubricating




rectum. Bend upper leg forward to expose

Gently insert syringe tip into rectum. rectal opening. Note: rim should be snug against

Separate buttocks to expose rectum.






plunger Slowly count to 3 while gently pushing in until it stops.

syringe from Slowly count to 3 before removing rectum.


Slowly count to 3 while holding together to prevent leakage.


FOLLOWING OCCUR CALL FOR HELP IF ANY OF THE ® doctor’s instructions: after giving DIASTAT or per the • Seizure(s) continues 15 minutes


Keep person on the side facing you, note time given, and continue to observe.

other episodes • Seizure behavior is different from or severity of the seizure(s) • You are alarmed by the frequency breathing of the person • You are alarmed by the color or serious problems • The person is having unusual or Doctor’s number: Local emergency number: has 911) area (Please be sure to note if your ® Time DIASTAT given: Information for emergency squad:


DIASTAT® Indication is a gel formulation of diazepam intended DIASTAT® AcuDial™ (diazepam rectal gel) of selected, refractory patients with for rectal administration in the management require intermittent use of diazepam to epilepsy, on stable regimens of AEDs, who for patients 2 years and older. control bouts of increased seizure activity,

Important Safety Information ® frequent adverse event was somnolence In clinical trials with DIASTAT , the most were dizziness, headache, pain, (23%). Less frequent adverse events reported incoordination, asthma, rash, abdominal vasodilatation, diarrhea, ataxia, euphoria, pain, nervousness, and rhinitis (1%–5%). D955-0308




Voice of CFT classified clear in Washington Classified employees were heard in Washington D.C. when I joined a delegation that met with congressional representatives and top White House staff on September 22 and 23. Together with the Courage Campaign, we lobbied on classified and teacher issues. (See page 3) In the Capitol, we met with Sen. Barbara Boxer, and Reps. Adam Schiff and Janice Hahn, among others. Our message: Protect education, create more jobs, and stop outsourcing American jobs. At the White House, we met with senior staff members, telling them labor wants the president to hold firm and get the jobs bill passed. Our delegation criticized the president’s platform on education, saying we believe he is not listening to the education community. The White House staffers left with an earful: We need more from President Obama to mobilize our members for the 2012 election.

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SB 161, authored by state Senator Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) and signed by Members took every opportunity to talk Gov. Brown on October 7, Sanchez works with with legislators and their aides. CFT Legislative Representative Dolores will have volunteer school hearing this spring. tol Capi a at y testif to ng waiti bers mem employees administer a Valium-like prescription drug to epileptic students be replaced with volunteers is unrezure medication. A 504 would specify having a seizure. The drug, called alistic. School nurse organizations the child’s special need as having the Diastat, must be injected rectally. believe districts should have qualidrug available to the child throughSB 161 can put employees, fied medical personnel on every out the day. Districts want to avoid school campus. They assert that the having 504s because it costs a district real Republican agenda is to continue more to employ a nurse to meet a CHILD ADMINIS TRATION INSTRUC TIONS defunding and privatizing public child’s special medical need. schools, in this case taking away fundCFT Secretary Treasurer Jeff Freitas ing for school nurse positions. says SB 161 will give districts another It’s not just classified employees tool to avoid providing what their and teachers who lose under the new students require. “If districts don’t law. Parents of medically fragile chiltell parents they have a right to a 504, dren lose, too. Parents are misled into then the districts aren’t educating believing their children enjoy safe con- the parents about their rights under ditions for learning, when they do not, federal law,” Freitas explains. “Disand into resenting school employees tricts will be allowed to offer parents who refuse, for good reasons, to take a minimally trained volunteer to proon the task of what should be a medivide a complex and dangerous procecal professional’s job. dure, instead of employing medically Most importantly, SB 161 allows trained professionals.” districts to avoid having a “504” for To combat this, CFT members sent students. Section 504 of the Rehathousands of emails and letters to bilitation Act of 1973 is a federal members of the state Legislature, lobThe drug manufacturer’s pamphlet graphically law designed to protect the rights of bied their legislators in their home describes how Diastat must be administered.


Community College

U.S. Rep. Lois Capps, center, meets with Debra Stakes and Andrea Devitt from Cuesta College.

Choose Sharon Hendricks as your voice on CalSTRS Board BOB RIHA

CFT-endorsed faculty member and retirement specialist brings needed experience IN AN ELECTION now underway, community college members of CalSTRS have the first opportunity to choose their representative on the governing board. It’s an important choice: Of the 12 board members, five positions are appointed by the governor and four spots are automatically given to elected state officials. That leaves only three seats for the voices and interests of those who are most directly affected by the board’s actions. Two of those are reserved for K-12 educators, leaving a single seat open to represent full- and part-time community college faculty. CFT has endorsed Sharon Hendricks, a speech professor at Los Angeles City College and former speech-language pathologist in Los Angeles area K-12 public schools. As retirement liaison to CalSTRS for the Los Angeles College Faculty Guild and member of the Retirement Committee for the Faculty Association of “I see three very important goals: to California Community Colleges, Hendricks understands the protect our defined benefit pension issues facing all CalSTRS plan, to fight against the attack on members. California Teacher interviewed public sector workers, and to promote Hendricks about her candidacy retirement security for all.” for the board seat.



Chime in on student success


The draft recommendations of the Student Success Task Force mandated by SB 1143 (Liu) are now being discussed at meetings across the state. Please weigh in, either by attending and speaking up at one of these meetings or by clicking on the Task Force link at and then on “share your thoughts.” There are good recommendations and bad ones, workable and unworkable ones (with wildly unrealistic expectations about what technology can do underlying much of the unworkability). The faculty who served on the Task Force deserve our appreciation. They kept deliberations tethered to educational reality and were able to ward off some really boneheaded recommendations (funding by completions, de-funding lower level Basic Skills, etc.) that outside “experts” were pushing. Now it’s time for the rest of the faculty and staff to chime in on what will and won’t improve student success.


Q What would be your priorities if elected to the CalSTRS Board?

A As a CalSTRS board member, I would be a dedicated advocate for part- and full-time community college faculty and K-12 teachers. While it may not seem exciting to spend two days sitting around discussing the intricacies of portfolio management, I have to admit I love it. I see three very important goals: to protect our defined benefit pension plan, to fight against the attack on public sector workers, and to promote retirement security for all.

Q How did teachers become the target for attacks?

A The right wing has been alarmingly successful at blaming public pensions and public sector workers such as teachers for current budget problems. Those in the private sector who rely on 401(k) earnings, home equity, and Social Security, began to envy the secure benefits that public sector workers have in a defined benefit system. However, the real culprit was the corruption and greed of those on Wall

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Q What kind of pension “reform” may be headed our way?

A Gov. Brown just announced a bipartisan committee that will put together a comprehensive pension reform package. The main areas of reform are focused on double dipping and pension spiking. The need to increase contributions to CalSTRS, which, unlike CalPERS, has no authority to raise employer or employee contribution levels, is also likely to be part of the discussion.


Q Are CalSTRS pensions safe? A Your pension in CalSTRS is safe.

Street. Politicians are now using public pensions as a tool to weaken unions and attack collective bargaining.

Q Are taxpayers on the hook for the cost of public pensions?

A No. This is a common myth regarding pensions. Educators contribute 8 percent of their monthly pay to their retirement. Employers contribute another 8.25 percent per month, and the state contributes just over 2 percent (which previously was 4.6 percent but was reduced a decade ago). CalSTRS investment returns provide the majority of the money in CalSTRS pension funds.

CalSTRS members have a legal contract with the state that ensures payment upon retirement. Any changes to the system must be passed by the Legislature, providing a transparent process for all constituency groups.

Q What advice do you have about retirement planning?

A Plan ahead. Explore online resources ( and, make an appointment with a CalSTRS counselor, supplement your pension with 403(b) or 457(b) plans (, and monitor your annual CalSTRS statements. As to those attacks on public pensions, write letters to newspapers, comment on blogs, and contact your legislators. Be sure to vote in next year’s General Election so we can elect leaders who support retirement security for all.

How to vote in the CalSTRS election CalSTRS ballots arrived to member homes during the first week of October. You have three voting options: return your ballot by mail, phone in your vote, or vote online. Ballots must be submitted or postmarked by November 30. Sharon Hendricks is also endorsed by the Faculty Association of the California Community Colleges, the California Part-time Faculty Association, and the California Community College Independents. >Visit Hendricks online at and sign up for her e-newsletter about CalSTRS and retirement issues. Like her on Facebook at sharon4calstrs and follow her on Twitter at @sharon4strs.

AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka, center, with Ken Jacobs and Katie Quan from the UC Berkeley Labor Center.


Berkeley lecturer who challenges students wins national honor

“From the first day to the last, I constantly remind students that they are not doing enough, while challenging them to push beyond their comfort zones,” says Alan Karras.

— By David Bacon, CFT Reporter


the last, I constantly remind students that they are not doing enough, while challenging them to push beyond their comfort zones.” Sounds like this might drive students away in droves? It doesn’t. In fact, comments posted on the Rate My Professors website

“They’ll typically tell me, ‘I feel a certain way’ about a subject. I’ll tell them, ‘I don’t care about how you feel. I want you to think. And I want you to provide some evidence that justifies the way you think.’” ment World History Development Committee, which he chaired from 2005-10. He came to UC after teaching at Georgetown University and briefly at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. He received his doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania in 1988. Karras has a reputation as a demanding teacher, and he’s proud of it. “I teach critical thinking skills,” he explains, “and from the first day to

about any prospect for changing society. “That’s very different from the way things were when I began teaching here,” he remembers. In part, he sees the changing composition of the student body as responsible, as the university recruits more affluent foreign or out-of-state students to solve its budget crisis. The Princeton Review book will reach out to prospective students highlighting Karras’ reputation to encourage enrollments to UC Berkeley. “Professor Karras not only wants students to apply these skills with the course content, but to the engagements they have with each other and the world around them,” it concludes.

include one that calls him “Hands down one of the best professors at Cal. Amazing class, tons of reading. The lectures are both entertaining and engaging, and he truly knows his stuff.” When another student claimed on the site that Karras’ exams were “written poorly, oddly weighted, irrelevant and hardly test you on the actual material,” another student responded, “I disagree, the tests are extremely

fair. They test how well you can make an argument about an historical process using examples from world history! Karras is extremely intelligent, clear, and hilarious.” What Karras is doing, he believes, is getting students to abandon sloppy thinking. “They’ll typically tell me, ‘I feel a certain way’ about a subject. I’ll tell them, ‘I don’t care about how you feel. I want you to think. And I want you to provide some evidence that justifies the way you think.’ In the face of their lack of intellectual rigor, I want them to assert control.” When he assigns them to read Adam Smith, he doesn’t assign only The Wealth of Nations, but adds other Smith texts that directly contradict students’ preconceptions and stereotypes about classical political economy. He’ll demand that they examine current events for insights into the issues discussed in his classes. While Karras doesn’t fault students for lack of ideals, he says one of his biggest challenges is their cynicism


Talking jobs with the White House With other members of CFT, I spent September 22 and 23 in Washington, D.C., a city under attack from the right and high humidity. I asked one architect of the president’s jobs bill what the administration can do for college students and recent graduates who are facing the triple whammy of skyrocketing tuition costs, onerous student loans, and poor job prospects. Why did the jobs bill not propose a government works program directly employing millions of people?  The president’s economic advisor responded that the jobs bill is the best they can accomplish with Republicans controlling the House. He agreed about the sorry plight of college students, but said they wanted a package that was responsible and achievable. With Republicans blocking everything except tax cuts, I said our members had hoped the president would propose something clear and bold, even if it got shot down.

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MANY PEOPLE ASSUME that the instructors who go easy on students will be the most popular and get the best ratings. The experience of Alan Karras defies that conventional wisdom. Karras is about to receive one of the highest listings in the upcoming annual Princeton Review guide to colleges and universities. The book includes institution ratings and profiles of teachers at different campuses to give prospective students an idea of who the teachers are, and how students feel about them. Karras has been a non-tenured faculty member at UC Berkeley for 17 years. Catching up with him isn’t easy, not just because of his teaching load, but because he’s chief negotiator for the UC-AFT team bargaining the systemwide contract for lecturers. In addition to being a senior lecturer teaching World History, Classical Political Economy, and a senior honors seminar, Karras is associate director of International and Area Studies at Berkeley. He facilitates a monthly Bay Area reading group for high school teachers of world history, and sits on the Advanced Place-


Highly-rated history and economics professor teaches critical thinking skills


You are the union…


Local Wire

Reporting Local Action Around the State

LOCAL 3267

NO SHOPPING TODAY…The Jefferson Elementary Federation of Teachers held a grade-in at a local shopping center this spring as part of the Week of Action held May 9-13. Nearly 50 teachers packed up their papers to be graded, set themselves up in the mall’s central area, and went to work. Shoppers took notice and the teachers asked them to encourage their legislators to support Gov. Brown’s proposed tax extensions and to support legislative bill AB 1130 that called for taxing the

LOCALS 2141 AND 4400

AFL-CIO SCHOLARSHIPS AWARDED…Noah Connally, whose father Daniel Connally is a member of UC-AFT Santa Barbara, was awarded a Union Plus scholarship. Noah’s interests include robotics, biology, computer science, and history, insofar as he connects his own family history to where he is today. “My grandfather had to drop out of school to support his siblings. In his 30s, he got a union job and was proud to be a union member,” says this product of two generations of union membership. Marina Nogueira, whose father Marcelo Nogueira is a member of the


wealthiest 1 percent of Californians an additional 1 percent. Local 3267 was one of 50 local unions that held actions such as legislative visits, rallies, teach-ins, grade-ins, radio ads and town halls to help educate the public about the plight of public education and social services. In the end, the tax extensions failed and AB 1130 died in the Legislature, but school and college communities got the message loud and clear: California needs to increase revenues.

Cabrillo College Federation of Teachers, also won an AFL-CIO scholarship. Marina is a high-achieving student who looks forward to studying medicine and has volunteered at a hospital where she encountered the human side of healthcare. “The AFT has negotiated to expand access to healthcare for its members,” she says. “I can attest that the union has affected my life in a positive way by protecting and supporting not only me, but our entire family.” LOCAL 1343

TWO FURLOUGH DAYS RESCINDED… According to Dave Mielke, president of the Culver City

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

Federation of Teachers, the district’s Board of Education took quick action and restored two days of instruction when the district’s ending balance was higher than anticipated. On September 13, the board rescinded two furlough days for Culver City teachers. In June, the district and the union tentatively agreed to six furlough days so that teachers who received layoff letters on March 15 could return to work. Salary adjustments for the Culver City teachers started October 1.

Rank & Files Eddie Cuevas, government and economics teacher at West Adams Preparatory High and member of United Teachers Los Angeles, Local 1021, was appointed to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing by Gov. Brown. Cuevas served as Western Association of Schools and Colleges co-coordinator at the school and was the social studies department chair for two years.

Kay Ryan, member of the United Professors of Marin, Local 1610, was one of 22 recipients of the $500,000 “genius awards,” given by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Ryan, a former U.S. poet laureate who won the Pulitzer Prize this year, continues to write and advocate for community colleges, where she has taught remedial English skills for decades. The MacArthur award comes in five annual payments of $100,000 with no strings attached. Daly City teachers held a grade-in at the local shopping mall to reach out to the community.

LOCAL 2030

LIVING SOCIAL …The Greater Santa Cruz Federation of Teachers launched a Friday seminar series for members to get timely information when they need it, and in a relaxed social setting. The first, “Mastering Evaluation,” was held September 16. The after-school seminar, complete with pizza and drinks, provided teachers useful strategies by interpreting the contract language on evaluation and offering tips to avoid pitfalls. Local 2030 President Barry Kirschen said the topics are really the nuts and bolts of member rights. “These seminars are a way to let our members know the union is there, and that we’ve got their backs.” Coming soon in Santa Cruz: understanding layoffs, leaves of absence, and reductions in workload, demystifying 403(b) investing and 125 flex spending plans.

Beth Landry, kindergarten teacher at Bay View Elementary and secretary of the Greater Santa Cruz Federation of Teachers, Local 2030, received a Unionist of the Year Award from the Monterey Bay Central Labor Council presented by Rep. Sam Farr and state Assemblyman Bill Monning.

Russell Hill, retired member of Tamalpais Federation of Teachers, Local 1985, and former editor of California Teacher, published his fifth novel in April. The Dog Sox combines the stories of a broken-down, semi-pro baseball team in the Central Valley with a love story set in San Francisco.

Paul Fong, state assemblyman from Cupertino and member of the San Jose/ Evergreen Faculty Association, Local 6157, was awarded Legislator of the Year by the California Community Colleges. Fong, a former political science instructor at Evergreen Valley College is a member of the Assembly’s Select Committee on Community Colleges and a member of the Community College Caucus. Have you or your colleagues made news lately? Email the pertinent facts to the editor at

California Teacher, September - October 2011  

Big squeeze in the classroom

California Teacher, September - October 2011  

Big squeeze in the classroom