News Releases

On Appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education

Statement from the California Federation of Teachers

On Appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Wednesday, November 23, 2016

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We are deeply disappointed but not surprised by the selection of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. The Trump administration is making clear from the outset that it wants to privatize public schools, with less transparency and little accountability.

Ideology is a poor substitute for a quality public education, as we saw for years with the federal No Child Left Behind program. In choosing radical conservative billionaire Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education, Donald Trump is moving in precisely the wrong direction for the students and families of America.

A strident advocate for vouchers, DeVos is all about undermining and defunding public education. If her ideas become federal policy, the hollow promise of vouchers will drain funding from public education, and only the wealthy will be able to afford a quality education.
The appointment of DeVos raises a question: how will California legislators respond to destructive federal education policies? Immigration and climate change are issues we can unify around. But if state legislators support the continued expansion of charter schools, we will have greater disparity, less accountability and our district schools will become the schools of last resort for our communities. This is not what we need.
Our schools need lower class sizes, more enrichment programs, more counselors and all the support services that the children of the 1% receive in their privately run schools. Our kids deserve no less.

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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.

Activists Rally Against President-Elect, Dakota Access Pipeline at UC Irvine on Tuesday

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Tuesday, November 22, 2016

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Coalition Declares ‘Say No to Trump, Say Yes to Standing Rock’

Educators have a moral responsibility, in a democratic society, to discuss the issues of the day with their students. Without this fundamental right, teachers will be subject to outside political pressure to limit the discussion of the key, sometimes controversial, issues that shape the lives of their students and the community. For that reason, the CFT applauds the Mountain View School District’s decision to return Mr. Frank Navarro, a high school teacher and a recognized expert on the Holocaust, to the classroom, following controversy over an important and legitimate classroom discussion.

Just as important as ensuring academic freedom is the essential responsibility of individual educators and the school community to create an environment where students are free to share ideas – as long those ideas do not lead to the harassment of or adverse actions toward any student population.

The foundation of a democratic society is its educational system. When educators feel pressure to curtail their lessons based on changing political, legislative or legal winds, as a society we take a step toward totalitarianism.

We would do well to remember the statement of German Pastor Martin Niemoller, who, based on his experience in Germany in the 1930s, warned,

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

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The California Federation of Teachers represents more than 100,000 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.

 

Statement from the California Federation of Teachers On Academic Freedom and Student Discussion

Statement from the California Federation of Teachers

On Academic Freedom and Student Discussion

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Wednesday, November 17, 2016

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Educators have a moral responsibility, in a democratic society, to discuss the issues of the day with their students. Without this fundamental right, teachers will be subject to outside political pressure to limit the discussion of the key, sometimes controversial, issues that shape the lives of their students and the community. For that reason, the CFT applauds the Mountain View School District’s decision to return Mr. Frank Navarro, a high school teacher and a recognized expert on the Holocaust, to the classroom, following controversy over an important and legitimate classroom discussion.

Just as important as ensuring academic freedom is the essential responsibility of individual educators and the school community to create an environment where students are free to share ideas – as long those ideas do not lead to the harassment of or adverse actions toward any student population.

The foundation of a democratic society is its educational system. When educators feel pressure to curtail their lessons based on changing political, legislative or legal winds, as a society we take a step toward totalitarianism.

We would do well to remember the statement of German Pastor Martin Niemoller, who, based on his experience in Germany in the 1930s, warned,

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

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The California Federation of Teachers represents more than 100,000 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.

 

Charter Schools Association uses photos, quotes without permission

FACCC AFT Logo

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Wednesday, November 2, 2016

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Misleading independent expenditure mailer draws “cease and desist” letter

Los Angeles—A political mailer that arrived in voters’ homes last week contained photos and quotes attributed to Joanne Waddell, president of the faculty union in the Los Angeles Community College District, and Jonathan Lightman, executive director of the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges. Neither authorized their use by a California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) political action committee. The individuals’ attorneys have issued cease and desist letters [Waddell letter, Lightman letter] demanding an apology from the CCSA and that it contact the households that received the mailer to correct the false impression that the individuals were in any way linked to the independent expenditure campaign funded by the Association.

The mailers were sent by the “Parent Teacher Alliance”, sponsored by the California Charter Schools Association Advocates Independent Expenditure Committee, to households in the 43rd Assembly District in support of Laura Friedman, who is running against Ardy Kassakhian. (Friedman’s campaign had no knowledge of the mailer, which as part of an independent expenditure is required to operate without coordination with the candidate’s own campaign.)

"Last Friday, a friend who lives in Glendale sent me an email of a political mailer she received,” said Joanne Waddell. “Her email message was “Did you know that your picture and a quote attributed to you is on a mailer paid for by the California Charter Schools Association?” I didn't know, and I was shocked. The mailer went out without my consent or approval. While this dishonest and misleading action may be consistent with the values of the CCSA, it is not consistent with either election law or common decency.”

Waddell was not the only individual or organization surprised at the contents of the mailer. “The Faculty Association of California Community Colleges is distressed by the unethical approach of the charter school advocates,” said FACCC executive director Jonathan Lightman, whose likeness and quote were also on the mailer. “Our endorsements of the candidates in this race does not extend to supporting the agenda of outside groups.”

The Charter Schools Association is spending heavily in legislative campaigns around the state to elect candidates supported by the CCSA and its billionaire backers. “The hope of the CCSA is that they can buy an unlimited expansion of the number of charter schools, and prevent passage of legislation requiring greater transparency and fairness in the operations of these schools,” said CFT president Joshua Pechthalt.

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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. More info: www.cft.org. Founded in 1953, the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges was named “Best Political Voice for Community College Faculty in the State” by Sacramento News & Review. Representing over 11,000 members, it serves as the professional membership association for California Community College faculty across the state’s 72 districts and 113 colleges.

 

Costa Mesa Educators, Parents and Students Rally, Hold Press Conference for Prop 55

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Tuesday, October 4, 2016

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Passing Ballot Measure Necessary to Prevent up to $4 Billion in Funding Cuts to Schools & Colleges

Costa Mesa – Local supporters of Proposition 55 today rallied and held a press conference in front of Back Bay High School in support of the "Children's Education and Health Care Protection Act of 2016," which will prevent nearly $4 billion in funding cuts to education. Local K-12 teachers, community college leaders, elected officials, parents, and students came together to voice their support for Proposition 55 on the ballot this November. Proposition 55 maintains the current income tax rates on the wealthiest Californians in order to protect public education and other vital services, like children’s health care, from cuts.

“Proposition 55 is essential to maintain current levels of funding for public education. There are no other recommendations from the legislature to support our kids if this revenue expires. We must pass Prop 55," said Dr. Britt Dowdy, Newport-Mesa Federation of Teachers President. “In Newport-Mesa Unified School District, approximately $4.2 million of the budget is attributed to funds related to Prop 55. These funds help support programs and facilities for our youngest students. This includes music and science instruction for K-3 students, and air conditioning equipment for classrooms that frequently get above 90o during hot spells throughout the school year.”

Budget forecasts show that unless we extend the taxes on the wealthy, which would continue to bring in an average of $8 billion in annual revenues, our public schools and colleges will lose nearly $4 billion and our state budget will face a deficit of more than $4 billion in the first full year alone.

“California students, schools and colleges can't afford to go back to the days of massive teacher and staff layoffs, larger class sizes and cuts to essential programs," said Karen Ridley, a teacher in the nearby Anaheim Union High School District. “Proposition 55 does not raise taxes on anyone; it simply maintains the current income tax rates on the wealthiest Californians to prevent nearly $4 billion in funding cuts to public education and vital healthcare services for our low-income students. With strict accountability requirements, the money is designated for classrooms, not bureaucracy and administrative costs.

"Also speaking was Rob Schneiderman, president of the faculty union in the Coast Community College District, who said, “Without Prop 55, the Coast Community College District would lose about $20 million per year, which is 10% of our total budget. That loss would take us back to the recession-era cuts when staff were furloughed and threatened by layoffs. Luckily, California stuck with its progressive principles to raise revenues for public education. Other states that didn’t fell farther behind in recent years. We don’t want to follow that example.”

“I had a great experience at IVC getting the classes I needed. I was able to transfer on time to CSU Fullerton, thanks to Prop 30," said Emily Flores, a student concurrently at CSU Fullerton and Irvine Valley College. "I know many older students who struggled for years to balance work and finding the classes they needed to graduate, which weren't there due to the terrible funding problems before Prop 30 passed. I feel grateful to have gone to college after Prop 30, and I need the security that Prop 55 will bring to me to finish college."

Said Suzanne Gauntlett, Executive Vice President of the Harbor Council PTA, "California State PTA supports efforts to secure financing for public education that will be sufficient to provide optimum educational opportunity for all students. By supporting increased Medi-Cal funding, this initiative also reflects the well-understood link between children’s health, school attendance and success in school. This measure will provide $2 billion in funds in certain years that will be used to improve access to health care for low-income children and their families.”

Also in attendance were Lauren Brooks, Irvine Unified School District Board Member; Dr. Lorraine Prinsky, Coast Community College District Trustee; Therese Sorey, president, Irvine Teachers Association; Lisa Hickman, teacher in the Tustin Unified School District; and Ilse Taborga, School-Community Facilitator in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District.

The large and growing coalition of Prop. 55 supporters includes the California Teachers Association, California Federation of Teachers, California School Employees Association, California State PTA, California Medical Association, California Labor Federation, Health Access California, League of Women Voters, Children’s Defense Fund, and Children’s Hospital Association, as well as numerous elected officials and dozens of schools boards across the state.

Proposition 55, the California Children’s Education and Health Care Protection Act of 2016, simply maintains the current income tax rates on the wealthiest Californians for 12 more years – individuals earning more than $250,000 and couples earning more than $500,000 a year. Prop. 55 directs funds specifically to K-12 public education and community colleges, while also allocating funds to health care for low-income children and their families. The proposition contains strict accountability requirements.

A recent Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) survey found that 64% of voters support extending the income tax rates on the wealthiest individuals and couples to spare education and other vital services from a repeat round of devastating budget cuts.

For more information, visit www.YesOn55.com and www.cft.org.

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Paid for by Yes on 55 - Californians for Budget Stability, Sponsored by Teachers, Health Care Providers, Doctors and Labor Organizations. Major funding by California Hospitals Committee on Issues, (CHCI) Sponsored by California Association of Hospitals and Health Systems (CAHHS) and California Teachers Association/Issues PAC (committee).  Printed In-House.

 

Educators, students, community rally for Props 55 and W

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Thursday, October 6, 2016

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2121AROS event resized

Supervisor Jane Kim speaks to the noon rally on October 6 in San Francisco about the need to pass the statewide Prop 55 and local Measure W on a nationwide day of action for public education sponsored by the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools.

Need progressive tax policy to fund quality education

San Francisco – Earlier today hundreds of teachers, parents, students and community supporters joined with their peers in cities across the country and staged “walk-ins” before school began at more than a dozen San Francisco sites in support of quality public education. At noon, one hundred City College of San Francisco faculty and students rallied at the Civic Center campus on Market Street [see video]. Both events highlighted the need to secure adequate funding for all levels of education through fair tax policies, and drew attention to the statewide ballot Measure, Proposition 55, and the local San Francisco measure, Prop W.

Prop 55 will maintain current income tax rates on the wealthiest Californians to fund schools across the state. It is an extension of a temporary tax, Proposition 30, passed by voters in 2012, which prevented billions of dollars of cuts and thousands of teacher layoffs and has begun to restore positions and programs lost to the Great Recession. Activities such as this are taking place across the state as the Yes on Prop 55 campaign picks up momentum.

Prop W would generate an average of $44 million per year in new revenues from a slight addition to the transfer tax rate for ultra-luxury real estate properties sold for $5 million and over in the city. The revenues would address a number of needs, including building affordable housing, assisting homeless residents, improving infrastructure, and making CCSF tuition-free.

The events today coincided with similar walk-ins and rallies across the country organized by the Alliance for Reclaiming Our Schools, or AROS. More than a hundred thousand people participated, joining local election advocacy with the general call for increased resources and funding for public education. The morning “walk-ins” in San Francisco were organized by the Close the Gap Coalition, which formed four years ago to advocate for quality public schools in the City. Member organizations include Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth, Jobs with Justice, the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, SEIU 1021, and the United Educators of San Francisco.

Cayla Lewis is a CCSF student who spoke on Prop W and in support of Prop. 55 during the “walk-in” at Buena Vista /Horace Mann School. She said, “Everyone deserves an accessible education, and they shouldn’t have to choose between their education and being able to survive the high cost of living in San Francisco. I’m here in solidarity with the work that you all are doing to protect our public schools in San Francisco."

Said Susan Solomon, an elementary teacher and Executive vice president of UESF, during the walk-in at Malcolm X Academy, “It was really encouraging and exciting to be out of in front of the schools this morning with students, parents, and union educators talking about Prop. 55. We got a very positive reception from parents who understood immediately that passing Prop 55 means funding for their children’s future.”

Jessica Buchsbaum, ESL instructor at CCSF, said, “The rally today was amazing. Labor and community, faculty and students came out to support Prop W and Prop 55. People are so excited about making CCSF free again.”

Anakh Sul Rama, Community Housing Partnership organizer, said, "Free City College offers hope for struggling workers, the homeless, seniors and immigrants, the poor and middle class. The rest of the nation will take notice, spreading this hope."

Kevine Boggess, of Coleman Advocates said, “Today, as part of a growing national movement, San Francisco students, parents, community groups and labor groups came together to stand up for the right of all young people to a quality public education. This morning we walked in to our schools to demanding more resources for our school. Every young person regardless of race, ethnicity, class or zip code has the right to a high quality education, to a voice in the decisions that affect them, and to learn in a safe, supportive and affirming school environment.”

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United Educators of San Francisco represents teachers and paraprofessionals in SFUSD. AFT Local 2121 represents faculty members in CCSF. They are both affiliated with the California Federation of Teachers, representing 120,000 education employees in public and private schools, from Head Start through the University of California. CFT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO.

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.