News Releases

California teachers denounce Janus v. AFSCME decision as an attack on their voice and on public education

For Immediate Release: June 27, 2018
Contact: Matthew Hardy, 510-703-5291


California teachers denounce Janus v. AFSCME decision as an attack on their voice and on public education 

Teachers and school employees vow to continue the fight for their professions, their students, and public education

This morning the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of Mark Janus in the Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 case. The ruling overturned decades of precedent and eliminated the ability of public sector unions to collect fair share, or agency fees.

While promoted as a case about the First Amendment rights of employees, teachers believe the Janus case is a straightforward attempt by deep-pocketed interests, with the compliance of the Supreme Court, to limit the voice of educators and other public sector workers.

“The Janus decision is a direct threat to our ability to advocate for the pay, benefits, and working conditions that we need to get our important work done,” says California Federation of Teachers President Joshua Pechthalt. “By seeking to eliminate our ability to advocate for our jobs, our schools, and our vital public services those behind the Janus case directly threaten the public education system and the students and families that we serve. The decision also hurts the ability of the entire labor movement to defend vital social services such as Social Security and Medicare.”

Anticipating the setback in the Janus decision, the California Federation of Teachers and other education and public sector unions from throughout the country have engaged in a renewed organizing program over the past few years. The message in their campaigns has been straightforward: The threat is real, but if we stand together, we can prevail for our profession and our students.

“California teachers and school workers are fiercely dedicated to our students and their families because we believe in the power and promise of public education to transform lives and to lift up communities,” continues Joshua Pechthalt. “We know that the best way to protect our students and our schools is to stand together to raise standards for our profession and support for our schools and vital public services. And we are not going to back down, regardless of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Janus case.”

The California Federation of Teachers represents 120,000 teachers, 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 information at www.cft.org.

CFT statement calling on the Trump administration to immediately cease separating families at the border

For Immediate Release: June 19, 2018
Contact: Matthew Hardy, 510-703-5291


CFT Statement Calling on the Trump Administration to Immediately Cease Separating Families at the Border 

The following is a statement from CFT President Josh Pechthalt calling on the Trump administration to immediately cease separating families at the border:

"As educators and school workers who spend our lives in service to our students and their families, we call on the Trump administration to immediately cease separating families at the border. Using vulnerable families as bargaining chips in a debate about immigration is not only shameless, but cruel and immoral."

California Federation of Teachers Endorses Gavin Newsom for Governor

For Immediate Release: December 5, 2017
Contact: Matthew Hardy, 510-703-5291


California Federation of Teachers Endorses Gavin Newsom for Governor

This past weekend the California Federation of Teachers formally endorsed Gavin Newsom for Governor of California.

The following is a statement on the endorsement by CFT President Josh Pechthalt:

“The California Federation of Teachers is proud to endorse Gavin Newsom for governor of California. As educators, we are deeply impressed by Gavin’s proven track record and strong progressive vision for our state and our schools.

“We stand with Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom in his vision to bring more resources and support to our public schools and to defend California’s position as a progressive leader on issues like universal access to healthcare, climate change, LGBTQ rights, and immigration.

“In a time of great uncertainty and mounting threats coming from Washington, D.C., we know that Gavin is the right choice to stand with California’s students, educators, and the families we serve.”

In addition to the governor’s race, this weekend the CFT Executive Committee also made several endorsements for other statewide elected offices based on the candidates’ strong support for public education and workers’ rights. Those endorsements include:

  • Attorney General: Dave Jones
  • Lieutenant Governor: Ed Hernandez and Eleni Kounalakis (dual endorsement)
  • Treasurer: Fiona Ma
  • Insurance Commissioner: Ricardo Lara
  • Board of Equalization District 2: Malia Cohen

Previous endorsements by the CFT Executive Council include:

  • Superintendent of Public Instruction: Tony Thurmond
  • Secretary of State: Alex Padilla (incumbent)
  • Controller: Betty Yee (incumbent)

California Federation of Teachers Condemns Trump’s Decision to End

For Immediate Release: September 5, 2017
Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 510-703-5291


California Federation of Teachers Condemns Trump’s Decision to End DACA Program, Calls on Congress to Immediately Pass Dream Act

Statement from CFT President Joshua Pechthalt

The California Federation of Teachers strongly condemns the Trump administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which threatens the future of 800,000 young immigrants brought to the United States as children. In California alone more than 200,000 Dreamers and their families are now at risk.

CFT President Josh Pechthalt: “Ending DACA is a destructive and heartless act that will cause severe harm not only to these young Dreamers, but to their families, communities, and the broader society and economy. We work with Dreamer students and their parents each day in our schools across the state, and know that ending DACA will cause crippling fear and uncertainty. As teachers, professors and support staff we vow to stand by our students and their families, and will do whatever we can to ensure they receive an education free from fear.

“The California Federation of Teachers urges congress to immediately pass the Dream Act of 2017, which would provide a direct road to U.S. citizenship for undocumented residents impacted by the DACA reversal.”

Note: Interviews with CFT leadership are available throughout the day. Interviews with rank-and-file educators can also be arranged.

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.

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.”

 

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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.”

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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.

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