News Releases

CFT reaches settlement with accrediting agency

For Immediate Release: August 7, 2017
Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 510-579-3343

CFT reaches settlement with accrediting agency

“Fair accreditation practices will be the norm going forward"

 

San Francisco—In an important step toward fairer accreditation practices in California’s community colleges, the California Federation of Teachers (CFT) has reached agreement with the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) to settle its long-standing lawsuit against the agency.

The agreement, which lays out a number of important accreditation policy changes—some of which have already occurred—states that, “These changes have institutionalized many of the remedies which were initially sought by the plaintiffs at the time of the filing of this case.”

Originally filed in September 2013, following the ACCJC’s reckless decision to terminate the accreditation of City College of San Francisco, the CFT’s lawsuit sought an injunction to keep the college open, and to force the agency to stop violating its own rules and the rule of law. That injunction was granted through a separate lawsuit filed by San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera in San Francisco Superior Court, and in that lawsuit ACCJC was found to have broken several laws in its decision to terminate CCSF’s accreditation.

The CFT’s lawsuit addressed broader concerns than Herrera’s, seeking to end years of punitive, arbitrary, inconsistent and expensive actions by the Commission. The behavior brought to light by the CFT led many observers to decry the Commission’s lack of transparency and “culture of fear,” culminating in sharp criticism by the Chancellor’s office, the Board of Governors, the State Auditor, elected leaders in San Francisco, Sacramento, and Washington D.C., and sanctions by the U.S. Department of Education.

Last year, however, a number of changes in Commission leadership—including placing its controversial president, Barbara Beno, on administrative leave—ultimately led to fruitful discussions between CFT and the ACCJC.  The Settlement Agreement includes the following changes:

•    Not to interfere with community colleges’ collective bargaining process;

•    the commission’s executive committee would recommend deleting accreditation standard III.A.6, requiring student learning outcomes (SLOs) to be used as a component of faculty evaluation;

•    to adopt a policy to ensure at least three active duty faculty members are assigned to each college evaluation team;

•    to adopt a policy establishing clear criteria by which the ACCJC may extend for “good cause” the two year period for a college to comply with accreditation standards as to which it has been found deficient;

•    in determining a college’s financial stability, to apply its indicators consistently from college to college, and refrain from directing colleges what specific steps must be taken to achieve that stability;

•    to reaffirm accreditation for 7 years with a follow up report for colleges with minor compliance issues, instead of the recently-adopted eighteen month period of reaffirmation; and

•    to strengthen conflict of interest safeguards for commissioners and evaluation team members.

The settlement also establishes a dispute resolution procedure that begins outside of court in the event that CFT believes the ACCJC is not living up to its commitments.

CFT president Joshua Pechthalt said, “This agreement represents a sea change in the ACCJC’s operations in a number of significant ways. We believe that as a result of this settlement, fair accreditation practices will be the norm going forward.”

Jim Mahler, president of the CFT’s statewide Community College Council, said, “In fast-tracking these reforms, the ACCJC’s leadership has indicated the seriousness with which they view the settlement and their intent to implement it.  We look forward to strengthening and improving the educational opportunities for the community college system’s two million students, no longer distracted by the accreditation problems of the past.”

CCSF faculty union president Tim Killikelly said, “On the heels of ACCJC finally granting City College of San Francisco full accreditation, and putting Compton College on a firm path to reaccreditation, this settlement is a vindication of our union’s decision to fight back against the illegal and unfair actions to which we had been subjected, and for the literal future of the college.  This struggle took a big toll.  What the agreement should mean is no one else will ever again have to go through what we at City College went through.”

“The campaign for fair accreditation in California led by the CFT has been incredibly successful. We hope this agreement signals a new direction for the accreditation process and the California community college system. Nonetheless, we will remain vigilant in holding ACCJC accountable. We believe this agreement and our vigilance together will help ensure a robust and fair accreditation system for California.”

 

###
The California Federation of Teachers represents 120,000 faculty and school employees in public and private schools and colleges, from early childhood through higher education. It is the statewide affiliate of the AFT. More info: www.cft.org.

Paid for by California Federation of Teachers COPE.

Thurmond for State Superintendent of Public Instruction

For Immediate Release: June 14, 2017
Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 510-579-3343

Statement from CFT president Joshua Pechthalt:

Thurmond for State Superintendent of Public Instruction

“At its Executive Council meeting last weekend the California Federation of Teachers enthusiastically and unanimously endorsed Assemblymember Tony Thurmond for State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

“Thurmond has demonstrated time and again he is a champion of public education. His policy positions solidly align him with the needs of students, parents, and educators. Recognizing the critical need to address California’s teacher shortage, he advocates for attracting and retaining qualified teachers by providing affordable housing, recruitment bonuses, scholarships and higher wages. He supports raising California up from near the bottom of the states in per pupil funding through progressive tax reforms. He sponsored a bill to bolster early childhood education enrollment by taxing private prison corporations.

“Thurmond has worked tirelessly to reduce truancy, expand community schools, and facilitate restorative justice programs. He has crafted bills to help foster youth go to college.

“In distinction to the Trump/DeVos regime, Thurmond—a former school board member—opposes vouchers and other schemes to shift taxpayer dollars from public education to private hands. He believes charter schools should be held to the same standards of access, transparency and accountability as public schools, and firmly opposes for-profit charters.

“A former social worker, Thurmond recognizes that factors outside of school can impede teaching and learning. Because he understands the hardships students face, Thurmond supports expanding school-based health, mental health, and social service programs. He believes health care is a right, not a privilege.

“This unanimous endorsement vote by CFT’s executive council reflects the views of our members at all levels of the union, from early childhood through the UC system. We are proud to stand with Tony Thurmond for State Superintendent of Public Instruction.”

###
The California Federation of Teachers represents 120,000 faculty and school employees in public and private schools and colleges, from early childhood through higher education. It is the statewide affiliate of the AFT. More info: www.cft.org.

Paid for by California Federation of Teachers COPE.

Faculty call for answers, not vague promises

For Immediate Release: June 7, 2017
Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 510-579-3343

Statement from the California Federation of Teachers

[The following statement was read and distributed during public comments at the ACCJC meeting in San Jose today.]

Faculty call for answers, not vague promises

Accreditor’s accountability still the main issue

Ever since the Chancellor’s Accreditation Task Force revealed in 2015 that the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) is no longer widely accepted in its community, and does not meet the needs of California public higher education, faculty have been waiting for concrete action to move to a new accreditor.

After the California Community College Board of Governors endorsed the Task Force Report, and college presidents and chancellors formed two working groups—one to explore moving to a new accreditor, and the other to work with ACCJC to reform its practices and ensure fair accreditation in the interim—hopes were raised that change would follow promptly.

The one significant promising action taken by the commission was to finally restore full accreditation to City College of San Francisco earlier this year. However, the Commission’s illegal and destructive behavior toward City College since 2012 was but the single most egregious instance within a larger pattern of departures from fair and constructive accreditation practices.

Faculty listened carefully to interim President Richard Winn when he appeared before the CFT Community College Council on March 31. He said the ACCJC’s policies were under review and many would change. Winn promised a new day, one in which the ACCJC’s longstanding culture of intimidation would be replaced with a collaborative, constructive approach. He also said that specific changes would be made in the agency’s practices. These would include placing more faculty on visiting teams, a diminished role for SLOs, a withdrawal from agency interference in collective bargaining and colleges’ financial decision-making, a reduction in accreditation costs to colleges as well as simplification of excessive paperwork requirements, and reducing the number of eighteen-month accreditation extensions.

These ideas are long overdue, and the faculty present at that meeting were heartened by hearing them. Now we would like to know the specifics: what sort of input will faculty have into the design and implementation of these reforms, when will they be put in place, and what accountability measures will ensure that they will be more than fine sounding words—i.e., transparent, timely, and effective?

The CFT has been fighting for a fair and appropriate accreditation system—in court, at the US Department of Education, in the legislature, the media, and in the streets—ever since the ACCJC unfairly and unlawfully sanctioned City College of San Francisco in 2012. We would prefer to focus our energies on the classroom and delivery of quality education to the system’s two million students. But until California’s community college accreditation problems are fixed we will remain actively involved in the effort to improve them.

###

The California Federation of Teachers represents 120,000 faculty and school employees in public and private schools and colleges, from early childhood through higher education. It is the statewide affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers. More info: www.cft.org.

Petaluma strike protests unfair labor practices

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Contact:          Sandra Larsen: 707-696-5118, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

                        Suzanne Garcia: 530-864-2416, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Petaluma strike protests unfair labor practices

United showing by teachers highlights policies threatening quality education

Petaluma—Hundreds of teachers and other certificated employees in Petaluma City Schools, represented by the Petaluma Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 1881, walked picket lines today protesting the administration's unfair labor practices and policies harmful to quality education. 

"The regressive bargaining of the administration earlier this week, in which they repudiated a class size limit that we had already agreed to, was the last straw," said Sandra Larsen, president of the PFT.  "Increasing class sizes is not the way to achieve a quality education in Petaluma schools.  And unfortunately this reversal is all too typical of the way the administration operates."

"I am participating in the strike to establish fair labor practices between the district and the union," said high school science teacher Lee Boyes, "so we can move forward next year with just and fair practices and a better environment for teaching and learning."

Picket lines were strong and no classes were held at most sites, while students were brought together in large groups, tended by hired substitutes.  Many parents walked the picket lines in support of the teachers and came to a noon rally with their children. 

Teachers were clear about why they were picketing.  "I'm sick and tired of this toxic environment created by 16 months of minimal negotiation progress, lack of respect, and all the unfair labor practices that feel intentional and mean spirited," said Elyse Vossburg, a speech therapist.

Members of Local 1881 were joined at a spirited rally in front of the district administration offices and a march to Walnut Park by parents, community supporters and members of other unions. 

The teachers returned to their school sites to close the day with picketing until 3:30.

The Petaluma Federation of Teachers has never had a walkout until today since its founding in 1969.  This strike was triggered by unfair labor practices committed by the administration. The PFT has filed ULP charges with the Public Employment Relations Board. 

Said elementary Spanish teacher Jennie Eubank, "We need to act now to put an end to the school district's continuing use of illegal bargaining practices, or we can expect this same negative experience throughout all our future negotiations."

For more information, go to pft1881.org, or contact Sandra Larsen or Suzanne Garcia at the numbers above. 

###

AFT Local 1881 represents 460 teachers and other certificated employees in the Petaluma City Schools.  It is affiliated with the California Federation of Teachers, the American Federation of Teachers, and the North Bay Labor Council.

Statement from the California Federation of Teachers On Governor Brown’s 2017-2018 Budget Revision

For Immediate Release: May 11, 2017
Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 510-579-3343
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 858-342-4532

Statement from the California Federation of Teachers

On Governor Brown’s 2017-2018 Budget Revision

On Thursday, Gov. Jerry Brown presented his revised budget proposal for 2017-2018, and the CFT recognizes the concerns that Gov. Brown has with ongoing pressure coming out of Washington.

The budget increases funding for the Local Control Funding Formula for K-12 education, as well as funding for community colleges. Thursday’s announced revision also restores $500 million in preschool funding, something that had been put on “pause” in January. We applaud these advances.

We oppose the suspension of Prop 98, a mandate by the voters of California to make public education in California a priority, specifically K-14 education. Because the people of California passed Prop 55 to continue the millionaires’ tax, the state is able to modestly increase funding for Prop 98. Without it, the Governor would be recommending to cut billions from education instead of suspending it. The constitution states that we should build our education budget to be in the top 10 of states on educational funding. The tax extension helped us from slipping even further behind, but there is more the state and the governor can do to live up to that constitutional requirement.

We have made significant progress over the last few years in restoring funding for California’s public education system, but there is more to done. We are proud to have one of the most progressive tax systems in the country, but we also believe that more could be done to make our system less volatile and help us reach our aspirational goals. This starts with exploring additional revenue measures such as commercial property tax reform, an untapped source and a fair way to provide funding for services for all Californians.

Without additional, stable revenue coming from property tax reform, California’s neediest communities will be put in the constant and untenable position of having to decide between education, healthcare and other vital needs. We can and must do better than that.

###

The California Federation of Teachers represents 120,000 faculty and school employees in public and private schools and colleges, from early childhood through higher education. It is the statewide affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers. More info: www.cft.org.

On the Seating of Charter School Advocates to the LAUSD Board of Education

For Immediate Release: May 17, 2017
Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 510-579-3343
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 858-342-4532

Statement from the California Federation of Teachers

On the Seating of Charter School Advocates to the LAUSD Board of Education

The California Federation of Teachers has joined an expansive group of public schools, districts and other education associations in filing a friend of the court brief in the case of County of Santa Clara v. Donald J. Trump, et al.

The lawsuit seeks an injunction against the enforcement of a recent Executive Order signed by Trump targeting “sanctuary jurisdictions.” The order signed in January grants the Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security the authority to unilaterally deny federal funds that support critically-needed basic services to any jurisdiction they deem to be a “sanctuary jurisdiction.”

“The Executive Order transforms schools from inclusive, safe spaces to places of fear and uncertainty, ultimately undermining our entire public education system,” the amicus brief states. “[It] is causing sweeping, profound, and irreparable harm to our children and their families, our public education system, and ultimately, the future of our country.”

The Executive Order signed by Trump could withhold billions of dollars in federal and federally contingent funding from jurisdictions and cause irreparable harm to communities.

“President Trump’s unilateral Executive Order harms not just communities, but children,” said CFT President Joshua Pechthalt. “We are concerned for our students and the communities within which we work. The students of California should be focused on their education instead of fearing that they, their parents, or their loved ones may be the victim of an ICE raid. Schools should be safe havens for all students. This Executive Order undermines our ability to teach and for our students to learn.”

The full amicus brief can be read here.

###

The California Federation of Teachers represents 120,000 faculty and school employees in public and private schools and colleges, from early childhood through higher education. It is the statewide affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers. More info: www.cft.org.

Media contact

If you are a reporter or have a media inquiry, please call CFT Communications Director This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. at 510-579-3343.