CFT brings voice to 10th Annual Trinational Coalition in Mexico City

CFT at Trinational Coalition

Peter Brown is representing CFT at the 10th Annual Trinational Coalition to Defend Public Education now underway in Mexico City. Brown, sitting at the end of table with a laptop computer, teaches at Laney College and is a member of the Peralta Federation of Teachers.

The Trinational Coalition passed a resolution to hold a seminar on technology and education to analyze the impact of technology on educational processes from the perspective of workers and communities. As a result, this year's conference theme this year was "New Information and Communication Technologies and Education: Hegemony and Resistance."

The seminar held May 29-31 explores three major topics:“Political Economy of Technology and Education,” “Social Media and Education,” and “Pedagogy of Online Learning from a Teacher and Student Perspective.”

This seminar is co-sponsored by the Initiative for Democratic Education in the Americas network (a hemisphere-wide network) and the Trinational Coalition to bring together educators and students throughout the Americas. CFT has supported and participated in the coalition since 2008.

Pechthalt honored at UCLA

CFT president Joshua Pechthalt was honored Thursday, May 23, 2013, by the UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education, at the Center's annual banquet, for his work to help pass Proposition 30 in November 2012. Here are Pechthalt's remarks upon receiving the award.

pechthalt speaking articleThank you very much for this wonderful award and to be recognized with Senator Deleon, Assembly member Mitchell and brother Hansen.

At a time when public education has been under attack and education unions in particular have become scapegoats for an education crisis borne of lack of decent jobs, poverty and the elimination of social services in poor and working class communities, I am honored to receive this award on behalf of the California Federation of Teachers, our leadership, members and staff, including our secretary treasurer Jeff Freitas, for making a difference in the lives of children and young people.

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Berkeley local unions fight for fair contract, cooking and gardening program

Berkeley teachers holding "Fair contract now" signs

The faculty and classified AFT local unions in the Berkeley Unified School District rallied on May 8 before a district board meeting. With state funding to the district on the rise, educators say the district can provide more for its employees, especially since it is holding $7.9 million in its ending fund balance. The workers are also trying to save the successful cooking and gardening program threatened by cuts to the federal program, Network for Healthy Californians. Read more...

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CFT supports community college funding solution

ab1199February 28, 2013—CFT president Joshua Pechthalt speaks at a rally in front of San Francisco City Hall with Assemblymember Paul Fong who introduced AB 1199, which will provide community colleges under accreditation sanction breathing room. To learn the background of this legislation and what's been happening at CCSF, read David Bacon's story. Fred Glass photo

Governor drops in on CFT Legislative Reception

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January 28, 2013—Governor Jerry Brown (left) drops in on the CFT's annual reception for incoming legislators in Sacramento. To see more images, check out the photo album on CFT's facebook page. Steve Yeater photo

CFT Convention delegates working to “Reclaim the promise”

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CFT Convention delegates working to “Reclaim the promise”

Los Angeles, March 21-23—The Reverend William J. Barber II, president of the North Carolina NAACP, and leader of the growing “Moral Monday” movement contesting his state’s descent into the nineteenth century at the hands of its Tea Party government, provided a parable to the 600 elected delegates in the waning hours of the California Federation of Teachers’ 72nd annual convention, held in Manhattan Beach over the March 21-23 weekend.

Barber, whose oratorical style and ability to move an audience recalled that of Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “Elephants feel an attack coming, they form a circle, and place the children in the middle. We can't allow elephants, in the wild, to have more sense than we do.”

The story accurately captured one of the main threads running through the convention. Its theme, “Reclaim the Promise California,” proposed the power of united action when the state and local AFT federations build connections with the community to form a circle and resist attacks on public education. And that proposition found validation in plenary presentations, workshops, and keynote speeches throughout the weekend.

Responding to the privatizers

Several powerful speeches emphasized the importance of coalition building to turn back so-called “education reform” efforts to undermine public education, as well as in the positive work of improving public education. On Friday, following greetings from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles County Federation of Labor leader Maria Elena Durazo, and the quick dispatch of convention business, Santa Cruz special education teacher Casey Carlson moderated a panel discussion with school board members from Los Angeles and ABC school districts and the people—local AFT leaders and political officers—who helped get them elected.

Two banks of workshops covered a couple dozen topics over the next few hours, ranging from “Beyond the Affordable Care Act: Planning for Medicare for All,” to “Labor in the Schools and the Common Core” and “Keep the Community in Community College.” Bargaining, politics, legislative issues, union nuts and bolts, education policy—workshop presenters provided something for everyone at the convention.

After a reception lasting just long enough to provide delegates with what they needed to forge onward, they were back at it in division council meetings until 10 pm.

Saturday morning was packed. Senior Vice President Lacy Barnes handed out awards for political activism. AFT national president Randi Weingarten delivered a stemwinder. Paula Phillips, president of the Council of Classified Employees, moderated a panel discussion exploring the exciting work on the Quality Public Education Campaign by the Jefferson Elementary and Morgan Hill Federations, and in Palomar College.

These events were followed by an emotional presentation on the life and work of Raoul Teilhet, the CFT’s first full-time president, who oversaw CFT’s successful struggle to achieve a collective bargaining law, SB 160, for public education employees in 1975. Teilhet died last year. Three former CFT presidents, a local president, and a long time CFT staffer recalled what made Raoul Teilhet the effective leader and social movement activist he was.

At this point you might imagine the morning was over. But still to come were State Attorney General Kamala Harris, who delivered a sharp set of observations about the “school to prison pipeline” and her proposals to address it with a set of legislative reforms, and San Diego State Senator Marty Block, who received the CFT’s Legislator of the Year Award for his steadfast support of progressive education policies over the years.

At lunch, a couple hundred delegates packed into the Ben Rust Luncheon, honoring Dick Hemann, long time CFT field rep. Hemann, physically slowed by Parkinson’s Disease, demonstrated there was nothing wrong with his mental faculties or his wit, recalling some of the highlights of his long career as educator and union activist, including revealing the heretofore obscure connections between selling Fuller brushes and union organizing.

State of the Union

After another round of workshops, CFT secretary-treasurer Jeff Freitas provided the numbers behind the CFT’s work, and president Joshua Pechthalt delivered the State of the Union, clocking in at a tidy forty minutes as he recapitulated the convention theme of “Reclaiming the Promise” of public education. Covering a broad swath of topics, Pechthalt drew special attention to the work of our locals in building closer ties to local communities, and looking forward to the coming effort to push CFT’s legislativfe initiative, Healthy Kids, Healthy Minds (AB 1955) across the finish line.

Pechthalt also highlighted the work of CFT in pushing back against attacks on fair accreditation policies by the rogue Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC), and on teacher due process rights by anti-union billionaires attempting to hide behind an Astroturf lawsuit, “Vergara v. the State of California.”

Pechthalt’s attention to the accreditation battle reverberated throughout the convention proceedings, as presenters repeatedly—and for good reason—paid tribute to the hard work of AFT Local 2121 and its president, Alisa Messer, in leading the fight against the effort by vindictive and politicized accrediting commissioners to pull the accreditation of City College of San Francisco.

The love

Members of the large delegation from the local noted “the love shown to us,” as one put it, from other community college locals in particular, but also from the entire body, in the form of standing ovations, resolutions, and pledges to bring the local’s speakers’ bureau to campuses across the state, along with legislation to roll back the ACCJC’s inappropriate activities.

As was true for many of the efforts discussed during the convention, the battle to save City College and restore fair accreditation practices throughout the state included a defensive aspect as well as a progressive thrust forward—precisely the combination that drives the Quality Public Education Campaign now underway. It seems that Reverend Barber’s advice to emulate the elephants and form a circle had already been taken to heart before he offered up the observation.

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Friday, March 21
Saturday morning, March 22
Saturday evening, March 22
Sunday, March 23