News Releases

On the Confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education

For Immediate Release: February 7, 2017
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STATEMENT FROM THE CALIFORNIA FEDERATION OF TEACHERS

On the Confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education

Despite an unprecedented surge of opposition and protest, the United States Senate voted to confirm Betsy DeVos as the nation’s 11th Secretary of Education on Tuesday. The California Federation of Teachers is extremely disappointed in the confirmation of this unqualified candidate to lead our nation’s education system.

Teachers, classified workers, students, parents and policy makers from both sides of the aisle overwhelmingly opposed the confirmation of Betsy DeVos. Her lack of skills, knowledge and direct experience with public education is deeply unsettling and bodes poorly for our students. As Ms. DeVos’ substantial political donations to the very Senators who voted for her are part of the public record, her advancement signals the dangerous role money is playing in policy development. California’s six million K-12 public school students and three million public college and university students deserve better.

That Mike Pence became the first Vice President called upon to cast a tie-breaking vote on a cabinet nominee speaks to DeVos’s lack of broad support. It is unfortunate that someone so openly anti-public education is running public education. The California Federation of Teachers will continue to stand with students, their families, and the broader public to fight for quality public education and against the disastrous policies of the Trump administration.

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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 American Federation of Teachers. More info: www.cft.org.

CFT opposes the Supreme Court nomination of Neil Gorsuch

For Immediate Release: February 1, 2017
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STATEMENT FROM THE CALIFORNIA FEDERATION OF TEACHERS

CFT opposes the Supreme Court nomination of Neil Gorsuch

President Trump’s announcement of his Supreme Court nominee doubles down on the approach he has taken with his other selections. Federal Appeals Court Judge Neil Gorsuch is a conservative disciple of the late Judge Scalia and a proponent of the Supreme Court as a defender of the original interpretation of the Constitution—a Constitution that was drafted to protect the interests of white slave owners. Judge Gorsuch has advocated against gun control, against the Affordable Care Act and against Roe v Wade—the landmark decision that gives a woman control over her own body. Neil Gorsuch should be rejected by the Senate.

Unlike the appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, which requires a simple Senate majority, Supreme Court appointments require 60%. DeVos’s committee confirmation earlier today demonstrates clearly that a track record opposing the mission of the agency she is tapped to lead and remarkable ignorance of its policies are no impediments for the Republican majority. DeVos’s large financial donations to several Senators who voted for her represent an obvious conflict of interest that should have caused them to recuse themselves; but they didn’t.

Trump’s announcement of his nomination of Neil Gorsuch indicates he is attempting to put in place a justice who will approve his likely unconstitutional executive orders. Gorsuch views favorably the Supreme Court’s 2014 ‘Hobby Lobby’ decision, which tossed out language in the Affordable Care Act requiring employers to pay for their employees’ contraception coverage.

This nomination will require Republicans reaching across the aisle to confirm. Devos’s confirmation shows the willingness of the Republican majority to rubberstamp reactionary politics, privilege and wealth, and ignore fairness and core American values. A Supreme Court justice must be a fair-minded individual willing to consider facts, law, and the needs of people over profits and corporate agendas. The Senate must reject the nomination of anti-choice, pro-corporate Neil Gorsuch.

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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 American Federation of Teachers. More info: www.cft.org.

CFT Supports SB 54, SB 31

For Immediate Release: January 13, 2017
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STATEMENT FROM THE CALIFORNIA FEDERATION OF TEACHERS

CFT Supports SB 54, SB 31

CFT and members take action on behalf of students, communities, education workers

Today the California Legislature is hearing two bills to protect the people of California from destructive executive orders by the Trump administration. The CFT supports SB 54 (De Leon) and SB 31 (Lara) to defend the rights of all Californians. 

SB 54, known as the “California Values Act,” will provide essential safeguards to ensure that schools, police, hospitals and courts remain accessible to Californians from all walks of life and that California’s limited resources are directed to matters of greatest concern to state and local governments. SB 31 protects the safety and well-being of all Californians by ensuring that state and local agencies and personnel do not participate in, or use agency resources to create, a registry, list, or database of individuals based on religious beliefs, practices, or affiliations of national origin or ethnicity.

CFT’s support of these bills reinforces recent actions taken by our members in local school districts and colleges to pass resolutions creating safe haven schools, and coming out to airport protests of President Trump’s executive order banning Muslim immigration.

CFT leaders are available to comment on the bills and related actions.

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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 American Federation of Teachers. More info: www.cft.org.

City College of San Francisco Accreditation Fully Restored

For Immediate Release: January 13, 2017
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CFT applauds Commission decision to grant full accreditation


Today the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) announced that City College of San Francisco has been granted full accreditation for seven years.

The California Federation of Teachers, representing twenty-five thousand community college faculty in thirty colleges across the state, welcomes this news. It is the right decision, and it is long overdue.

CFT president Joshua Pechthalt, an outspoken critic of the ACCJC’s decision to place CCSF on “show cause” in the first place in 2012, said, “This is great news for the students, faculty, staff, and city of San Francisco, all of whom depend on that outstanding college for access to an affordable higher education. This successful outcome could not have happened, however, without the continued pressure of AFT Local 2121, the CFT, national AFT, and other allies who have advocated for the college since the disastrous and illegal ACCJC decision of 2012. It is also clear that new leadership at the commission has made a difference.”

City College faculty union president Tim Killikelly said, "All of us at the college are so excited and relieved that the accreditation crisis is over. But we mustn't forget that the accreditation crisis at CCSF should never have occurred. The quality of its education was never in doubt.”

Now that City College’s accreditation crisis has been resolved, the CFT looks forward to a productive conversation with the Community College Board of Governors to discuss the next steps for accreditation in California. The reform of a broken accreditation system has been uppermost in stakeholders’ minds ever since 2013, when the CFT, together with AFT 2121, filed a third party complaint with the US Department of Education over ACCJC’s actions.

This was but the first of many actions taken by CFT and its allies that brought close scrutiny to this particular ACCJC decision, but more broadly, to the culture of secrecy and arrogance that had sent the Commission down the wrong path. It took lawsuits, legislation, a state audit, a Chancellor’s Task Force, and Board of Governors actions to arrive at today’s announcement.

AFT national President Randi Weingarten said: “After five years weathering needless sanctions and punitive attacks from their rogue accreditor ACCJC, the brave students and faculty at City College of San Francisco can finally focus on creating opportunity rather than on fighting for survival. Faculty can get back to teaching and students to learning, without the specter of institutional decimation and devastation hanging over their heads. We fought hard for this and won, and we are thrilled to have been proven right about how great this college is."

“We need to stay on track to a new accreditor,” said Pechthalt,” “as well as make sure no student faces the obstacles to a quality education that the ACCJC created in this situation. Toward that end, we will need key policy safeguards so that the CCSF situation is never replicated in other colleges. We hope this turns a page for higher education in California.”

For more information and background on this long running story, click here.

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The California Federation of Teachers represents more than 25,000 faculty in California's community college system, and 120,000 employees at all levels of education in the state.

The California Federation of Teachers Opposes the Appointment of Betsy DeVos for the Position of U.S. Education Secretary

The California Federation of Teachers Opposes the Appointment of Betsy DeVos for the Position of U.S. Education Secretary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, January 12, 2017

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To protect the students, the communities and the educational workers of California, the California Federation of Teachers opposes the nomination of Betsy DeVos to be the U.S. Secretary of Education.

Fifty million students attend America’s public schools, over six million in California alone. They need and deserve a leader committed to supporting and improving their education. Instead, Donald Trump has nominated a billionaire who has spent her considerable money and time to undermine and destroy public education.

DeVos has never taught or volunteered in a public school, or been elected to a school board. DeVos has never served in any elected or appointed capacity overseeing public education at any level. Neither DeVos nor her children have even attended a public school.

What DeVos has done is advocated for school vouchers as a means to defund already underfunded schools. She bankrolled a failed voucher ballot initiative in Michigan. After that defeat by the voters, she shifted her strategy to promoting for-profit charter schools. Today charter schools in Michigan rank among the lowest achieving schools in the country.

She herself noted that, “My family is the single biggest contributor to the Republican National Committee. We expect a return on our investment.”

The American people do not wish to see public education led by someone without any qualifications except the ability to “pay to play.” California’s students, like their counterparts across the country, need a strong public education system to enable them to become active participants in our democracy and society. Without public education, the only students who will receive a quality education will be wealthy one percenters like DeVos.

Betsy DeVos is the least qualified nominee ever to be put forward for the position of Secretary of Education. We call upon the U.S. Senate to reject a nominee who actively opposes the framework and foundation of our public education system.

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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 American Federation of Teachers. More info: www.cft.org.

On Governor Brown’s Budget Proposal

Statement from the California Federation of Teachers

On Governor Brown’s Budget Proposal

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, January 10, 2017

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Thanks to the passage of Proposition 55 in the November 2016 election, California will be able to maintain its commitment to providing quality public education to the state’s more than six million students in the years to come.

While Governor Brown cites fiscal uncertainties due to likely changes in federal education policies and funding under the Trump administration, as well as projections of lower state revenues than anticipated, his proposed state budget keeps investments in public education a priority, while paring the statutory increase to the minimum allowable under Prop 98.

“The wisdom of California’s voters and taxpayers in passing Prop 55 means that we can continue to fund the Local Control Funding Formula, restore programs lost to the Great Recession, and improve the future prospects of our students at all levels of public education,” said Joshua Pechthalt, president of the California Federation of Teachers. “The progressive nature of Prop 55 allows us to maintain revenue if and when the State economy is contracting. We are proud to have the most progressive tax system in the country but also agree that more could be done to make our system less volatile, like commercial property tax reform.”

Pechthalt also noted that even with Prop 55, California’s per-pupil spending remains among the lowest of the states. “The intent of the voters was that Prop 55 would allow us to continue to increase our investments in public education. This budget proposal does that, but at a very modest level.”

Under Brown’s proposal, Prop 98 funding for K-14 education will increase by 3.1%, and Local Control Funding Formula monies, steered to districts with high numbers of students in poverty, English language learners, and foster children, will continue to be funded at 96% implementation, with the expectation that it will be fully funded by 2020, the deadline set when LCFF was initiated in 2013.

“We are pleased that the Governor and the state of California remain committed to fully funding the Medicaid expansion under the ACA,” said Pechthalt, regarding the proposed expansion of state funding for its share of health care for low income Californians. “Students who come to school sick cannot learn. No matter what happens in Washington D.C., this budget proposal, if approved, will make sure that at least for the foreseeable future we will not allow preventable health problems of our most vulnerable students to be a barrier to learning.”

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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 American Federation of Teachers. More info: www.cft.org.

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