News Releases

Gov. Brown signs bill aiding part-time CC instructors

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Tuesday, October 4, 2016

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., 818-422-2787 

Statement from the California Federation of Teachers

On Friday Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1690 and Senate Bill 1379, which together mandate that community college district administrators must bargain with faculty unions that represent part-time instructors over re-employment rights. Previously re-employment was not a mandatory topic of bargaining.

CFT President Joshua Pechthalt:
“This is welcome news. It is long past time that the majority of community college faculty—part-time or adjunct instructors—have the ability to negotiate terms of reemployment. As temporary employees, they rely on a strong collective bargaining agreement to ensure a measure of fairness and consistency in their terms of employment. Governor Brown’s signature means the possibility of more security for the people who teach half the classes in the community college system and greater continuity for their students.”

CFT Community College Council President Jim Mahler:
“This is indeed a historic piece of legislation, and a huge step forward in addressing the dignity and respect our part-time faculty deserve but are far too often lacking. Assemblymember Jose Medina (D-Riverside) and Senator Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) showed vision and perseverance in carrying the legislation, and we are pleased the governor wisely chose to sign it.”

###

The California Federation of Teachers represents more than 25,000 faculty in California's community college system. It is the statewide affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, and represents more than 100,000 faculty and school employees in public and private schools and colleges, from early childhood through higher education. More info: www.cft.org. 

Gov. Brown Vetoes Death Benefit Bill Aiding School Support Workers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Tuesday, September 27, 2016

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., 818-422-2787 

Statement from the California Federation of Teachers:

On Monday, Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed Assembly Bill 1878 (Jones-Sawyer), which would have increased a death benefit from the California Public Employees Retirement System intended to offset funeral costs.

CFT President Joshua Pechthalt:
“We are disappointed with Gov. Brown’s decision to veto Assembly Bill 1878. Currently, the death benefit paid out by CalPERS to the families of its deceased members is $2,000, and has not increased since 2000. This is far from adequate. According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the average cost for a funeral is over $7,000. AB 1878, which received strong support in both the Assembly and the State Senate, would have given the CalPERS board the authority to raise the death benefit based on the Consumer Price Index. Not doing so hurts working men and women and their families during a very difficult time. We thank Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles) for his work on this legislation.”

CFT Council of Classified Employees President Paula Phillips:
“This piece of legislation would have directly benefited classified workers in public education and their families. These are the people who fill crucial roles in our education system, from maintenance staff and cafeteria workers to bus drivers and office workers. AB 1878 would have lent some dignity to a grieving family faced with a funeral bill for a loved one who might have made a modest living.”

###

The California Federation of Teachers is the statewide affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, and represents more than 100,000 faculty and school employees in public and private schools and colleges, from early childhood through higher education. More info: www.cft.org.

Common Sense Charter School Legislation Killed by Corporate Special Interests

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Wednesday, August 31, 2016

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 818-422-2787
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 858-342-4532 

SB322 would have prohibited charter schools from implementing policies intended to limit admission of students with disabilities, English learners and the economically disadvantaged

Sacramento – In a blow to fair public education policies, the California State Assembly failed to pass common sense legislation that would have, in part, prohibited charter schools from instituting policies intended to limit admission of students with disabilities, English learners and the economically disadvantaged.

“Charter schools shouldn’t be allowed to create their own selective admission policies designed to discriminate against our students, but when the Charter Schools Association spends millions of dollars on legislative races, unfortunately, this is the consequence,” said CFT President Joshua Pechthalt. “Charter schools are public schools funded with our tax dollars, and should be held to the same standards as other public schools.”

SB 322 (Leno), in its final version, would have ensured equal access to all charter school students and prohibited practices that discourage enrollment or disproportionately push out segments of students already enrolled. This included prohibiting charter schools from requiring parental volunteer hours and implementing other admission policies intended to limit access for students with disabilities, academically low-achieving students, English learners, neglected or delinquent students, homeless students or students who are economically disadvantaged. The legislation would also have required charter school suspension and expulsion procedures described in the charter petition meet certain minimum requirements, including constitutional due process rights for students.

“We expect all legislators to understand and demand equal access for all California students who receive public dollars for their education,” Pechthalt said. “The fact that our lawmakers couldn’t pass such basic legislation addressing equal access and due process rights designed to protect our most vulnerable students is an outrage. We are particularly dismayed that Democratic legislators either voted against this legislation or abstained from voting. We expect better than that.”

SB 322 received 31 YES votes, 34 NO votes and 15 abstentions.

Members who voted against the legislation include Dr. Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno), Nora Campos (D-San Jose), Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles), Marc Levine (D-San Rafael), Sebastian Ridley-Thomas (D-Los Angeles) and Das Williams (D-Carpinteria).
Those who abstained were Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), Susan Bonilla (D-Concord), Cheryl Brown (D-San Bernardino), Autumn Burke (D-Inglewood), Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova), Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove), Matthew Dababneh (D-Encino), Tom Daly (D-Anaheim), Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella), Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles), Adam Gray (D-Merced), Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousan Oaks), Adrin Nazarian (D-Sherman Oaks) and Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles).

###

The CFT represents over 25,000 faculty in thirty community college districts, and 120,000 educational employees at every level of the education system, from Head Start to UC. AFT Local 2121 represents 1,500 faculty members at CCSF. The American Federation of Teachers has 1.6 million members. More info: www.cft.org.

Victory for Students as California Supreme Court

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Monday, August 22, 2016

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 510-579-3343
Mike Myslinski, 650-552-5324

Rejects Review of Vergara Appeal

San Francisco – In a victory for students and educators, the Supreme Court of California today announced it will not review the Vergara v. California lawsuit, letting the unanimous appellate court decision upholding five statutes governing professional and employment rights for educators stand as constitutional. This decision vindicates the arguments of educators, civil rights groups, legal scholars and education policy experts that the state statutes affirming educator rights do not harm students. 

“This is a good day for students and educators as the Supreme Court’s decision brings an end to the case brought by wealthy anti-public education millionaires who spent millions of dollars to bypass voters, parents, and the legislature in an attempt to impose their harmful education agenda on local schools, .” said California Teachers Association President Eric C. Heins. “It’s time to get back to the real issues facing our public schools and work together to improve student learning and support the art of teaching. Eliminating teachers’ ability to stand up for their students and robbing school districts of the tools they need to make sound employment decisions was a well-funded but wrongheaded scheme developed by people with no education expertise.”

“We applaud the state Supreme Court’s affirmation of the appeal court decision,” said Joshua Pechthalt, president of the California Federation of Teachers. “The teacher shortage facing California has been stoked by the Vergara case, the expensive publicity machine surrounding it, and the constant attacks by so-called reformers on teachers and public education. We can now turn closer attention to solving the actual problems we confront in our schools, such as securing adequate funding through Prop 55, reducing class sizes, promoting and strengthening peer assistance and review, and reinforcing collaborative district practices with a proven record of success. These efforts will result in a more positive climate to address the teacher shortage crisis, bring young people to teaching and encourage experienced teachers to stay in the classroom.”

The Vergara case was the brainchild of Silicon Valley multi-millionaire David Welch and a group of corporate attorneys and public relations experts who founded the organization Students Matter to file the lawsuit. At issue in the case were five California statutes covering due process rights for teachers, probationary periods, and the value of educator experience when school districts are forced to lay off personnel due to revenue shortfalls and underfunding.

Over the course of a nearly two-month trial, award-winning teachers, superintendents, principals, school board members, education researchers, and policy experts testified to the benefit of these laws and how they work effectively to ensure quality instructors in well-run school districts. No connection was ever made between the challenged laws and any student being harmed. The Court of Appeal decision repeatedly affirmed that the current laws do not prevent districts from making personnel decisions. More information on the case as well as background can be found here and here.

###

The 325,000-member CTA is affiliated with the 3 million-member National Education Association. The California Federation of Teachers is the statewide affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, and represents more than 100,000 faculty and school employees in public and private schools and colleges, from early childhood through higher education.

CFT files new complaint against ACCJC

For more news and information go to our ACCJC news page.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Monday, August 8, 2016

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 818-422-2787
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 858-342-4532 

Department of Education asked to pull plug, aid in finding new accreditor

San Francisco—The California Federation of Teachers filed a substantive new complaint against the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) today, arguing that the accreditor of California’s community colleges has failed so completely to fulfill its duties that the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) should immediately “de-list” it—deny its renewal as an accreditor. The CFT was joined in the complaint by the faculty union at City College of San Francisco, AFT Local 2121, and its parent organization, the American Federation of Teachers, as well as the California Community College Independents.

A previous complaint filed by CFT in 2013 resulted in a finding by the DOE that the ACCJC was in violation of numerous accreditation standards. It opened the gates to scrutiny by elected officials and government agencies seeking to fix the rogue accreditor; but so far the complex and sometimes murky oversight of accreditors has worked to the advantage of ACCJC.

“For years, the ACCJC has pushed forward with self-serving, illegal accreditation practices that unjustifiably sullied the names of colleges and universities throughout California like our own City College of San Francisco, while allowing bad actors like Corinthian Colleges to defraud and even bankrupt thousands of students,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten, whose 1.6 million members includes more than two hundred thousand professionals in higher education. “Even after they’ve been found at fault, the ACCJC is still in business, with the potential of devastating the college’s functioning and with it the ability of faculty to deliver a high-quality education to our students. Enough is enough. It is time to de-list this failing commission and return hope to the community and every student CCSF serves.”

The complaint notes that the ACCJC no longer enjoys “wide acceptance” among the California community colleges it oversees, a crucial standard for continued recognition by the DOE for regional accreditors. The DOE had already informed the ACCJC two years ago that it was not in compliance with this standard among several others, but the ACCJC had appealed the DOE finding, and delayed its day of reckoning.

“It is past time that we move on to a fair, competent accreditor for the colleges that serve more than two million students,” said CFT president Joshua Pechthalt. “The DOE should pay close attention to the long list of abuses of power and violations of accreditation norms committed by this agency, and help us find one that can do the job properly.”

The problem was noted last year in the State Community College Chancellor’s Accreditation Task Force report, released August 2015. The report cited a multitude of failures by the ACCJC and recommended that the Community College Board of Governors (BOG) seek a new accreditor. In turn, the BOG, in accepting the task force report, appointed community college leaders to two working groups, to reform the existing accreditor’s opaque, inconsistent and sometimes illegal practices, and at the same time explore a path to a new accreditor.

The CFT complaint brings into the record a mass of new evidence that ACCJC, far from complying with the DOE’s directive to fix its problems, has only grown less capable of carrying out its important role of guaranteeing the delivery of quality education by the institutions it oversees. The accreditor also, says the complaint, is even less widely accepted now than it was before the ACCJC’s appeal. In addition, it is floundering financially, in large part due to the continuous legal battles it is waging on taxpayer dollars.

The complaint zeroes in on another problem created by the ACCJC. In responding to a wave of criticism of its unfair and unlawful attempt to disaccredit City College of San Francisco in 2013 the ACCJC came up with a new policy, which it called “restoration status”, to give CCSF more time, two years, to prove it deserved accreditation. This policy, notes the complaint, does not align with accreditation norms.

“Restoration Status wasn’t designed to help City College,” charged Tim Killikelly, president of AFT Local 2121. “It was designed to make it appear that ACCJC was reasonable and responsive, so that it could survive all the scrutiny and actions that were coalescing against it from the courts and government agencies. But it is a policy that leaves all decision-making in the hands of ACCJC, and provides no due process or appeal procedures for City College. City College of San Francisco is still in great peril from the decisions of this law-breaking agency.”

The complaint notes that the DOE never fully vetted or approved of restoration status; and yet CCSF will live or die by this questionable policy this fall. The complaint argues that restoration status itself was devised illegally, and should be rejected by the DOE. 

###

The CFT represents over 25,000 faculty in thirty community college districts, and 120,000 educational employees at every level of the education system, from Head Start to UC. AFT Local 2121 represents 1,500 faculty members at CCSF. The American Federation of Teachers has 1.6 million members. More info: www.cft.org.

Statement by the California Federation of Teachers Supporting Teachers in Mexico

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Wednesday, June 29, 2016

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 818-422-2787

The California Federation of Teachers, which represents over 120,000 educational employees in California, is extremely concerned about the recent killings and attacks on teachers in Mexico. As U.S. President Barack Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto gather today for a special summit, we call on Nieto to immediately halt these attacks, and to guarantee teachers and education workers in Mexico their human, civil, political and labor rights. In the last several weeks teachers have been subjected to extreme violations of these rights, including:

  • On Sunday, June 19, at least four teachers and students protesting the government's corporate education reform program were shot and killed in peaceful demonstrations in Oaxaca, and dozens more wounded, by Federal police.
  • The three top elected officers of Oaxaca's teachers union, Seccion 22 of the National Union of Education Workers – Ruben Nuñez, Francisco Villalobos and Aciel Sibaja – have been illegally imprisoned in the Federal penitentiary a thousand miles from Oaxaca.
  • Over three thousand teachers have been fired for striking, and thousands more for refusing to administer standardized tests for students, or to take standardized tests for teachers, that are part of the Federal government's education reform.
  • Mexico's Secretary of Public Education, Aurelio Nuño Mayer, has threatened to close the teacher training schools (the “normal” schools) that have developed generations of teachers, especially from poor families. An attack on the Ayotzinapa school in Guerrero two years ago led to the disappearance, and possible murder, of 43 students.

As educators, we are very concerned about the corporate direction of Mexico's Federal education reform program, as we are about similar programs in the United States. We oppose the privatization of public education, and of the corporate-directed programs for standardized testing of students and teachers. We are especially opposed to the use of those tests as the instruments for mass firings, as has been suggested in both countries.
There is no possible excuse for imposing these reforms at gunpoint, for violently suppressing the rights of teachers to advocate for themselves and their students, and for firing and jailing teachers when they do so. We call for an immediate halt to the extensive support in money and training received by the Mexican police and military from the United States, given the use of such heavy arms and anti-personnel tactics in the recent killings in Oaxaca, and the illegal imprisonment of teacher union leaders. We ask California's Congressional delegation to hold hearings to investigate the recent events in Oaxaca and the grave violations of the rights of teachers, students and the broader community in Mexico.

###

The California Federation of Teachers is the statewide affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, and represents more than 120,000 educational employees in public and private schools and colleges, from early childhood through higher education.

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.