News Releases

Bill Modifying Teachers’ Due Process Dies in Committee

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Wednesday, June 29, 2016

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AB 934 would have changed probationary period

Statement from the California Federation of Teachers:

Assembly Bill 934 from Assemblymember Susan Bonilla failed to make it out of the Senate Education Committee today. CFT had opposed AB 934 from the outset. The flawed bill, which would have changed the probationary term for new teachers from two years to three years, did nothing to address one of the real challenges facing education today: the ongoing teacher shortage. CFT now looks forward to engaging in a real process aimed at improving the state’s education system, and making reforms that will have a significant impact in the lives of our students, that educators can help craft.

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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.

Budget Proves Need to Extend Prop 30

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Monday, June 27, 2016

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Strong Education Spending Plan Shows Value of Wealthiest Paying Fair Share

Statement from the California Federation of Teachers:

The success of Proposition 30, and the importance of extending it, is front and center in the 2016-2017 budget signed today by Gov. Brown.

From K-12 to higher education, this is a budget with much to like thanks to Prop 30. We are especially pleased with grant funding that will allow classified employees to work toward obtaining their teaching credential, as well as grants for districts to implement a community schools model that will provide wrap-around services designed to educate the whole child. Community college students will benefit as well. They will see more full-time faculty on their campuses, and it will be easier to meet with part-time faculty as a result of more office hours.

There’s no question the $122.5 billion spending plan will help lift children out of poverty and improve public education for every student. In addition, the repeal of the Maximum Family Grant rule will reduce deep child poverty and set the most vulnerable children on the right path as they start out in life.

While this is a good budget, there’s much more to be done. And none of these positive things could have been accomplished without Prop 30. That’s why we are fighting to continue already-established income tax rates on the state’s wealthiest. If we allow Prop 30 to expire, California’s budget faces a $4 billion shortfall in year one. That’s why voting to extend Prop 30, the California Children’s Education and Health Care Protection Act of 2016, is so important this November.

We can’t go back.

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The California Federation of Teachers is the statewide affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, and represents more than 100,000 certificated and classified employees in public and private schools and colleges, from early childhood through higher education.

Statement by CFT President Joshua Pechthalt on ‘Vergara v. California’

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Monday, June 13, 2016

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Answer to Petition for Review

Los Angeles – Today lawyers representing the California Federation of Teachers and California Teachers Association, intervenors, filed their answer to the petition for review in Vergara v. California with the California Supreme Court.

The CFT and CTA argued that the court should not accept for review a petition to overturn the California Court of Appeal decision on April 14, in which a panel of three judges unanimously found the case has no constitutional standing. That reversal of the Superior Court decision affirmed arguments by educators, civil rights advocates, and legal scholars that the state statutes regarding educator rights do not harm students, as claimed by the anti-teacher, anti-union Students Matter.

CFT President Joshua Pechthalt said, “We believe the Appeal Court ruling was definitive, and that the Supreme Court will rightfully refuse to hear the case. We welcome the opportunity to move on from expensive distractions like the Vergara lawsuit and refocus on solving the real issues we confront in California public education.

“We have a teacher shortage exacerbated by lawsuits like Vergara and similar attacks on teachers and public education. We need to work together to create a climate that keeps veteran teachers in the classroom, attracts young people to the profession, and provides the tools to continually improve teacher performance.

“We can bring the best public education system possible in California to our students. That outcome requires adequate resources and policies that support smaller class sizes, strengthen peer assistance and review, reinforce positive collaborative district practices, and redress the teacher shortage.”

More information on the case as well as background can be found here.

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The California Federation of Teachers is the statewide affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, and represents more than 100,000 certificated and classified employees in public and private schools and colleges, from early childhood through higher education.

CFT Endorses Hillary Clinton for President

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Monday, June 13, 2016

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Oakland – The California Federation of Teachers Executive Council endorsed Hillary Clinton for president this past weekend. The CFT had not previously endorsed a presidential candidate, but given Secretary Clinton’s win in the California primary and her status as the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party, the CFT leadership decided that now is the time to pivot to the general election.

Secretary Clinton’s candidacy is historic. As the first woman nominated by a major party for president, her candidacy embodies the striving for equal rights of half the population underway since the Seneca Falls convention of 1848. Secretary Clinton has been a staunch advocate for women’s rights: the right to choose, equal pay for equal work, quality affordable childcare and much more.

Hillary Clinton also brings a deep practical knowledge of national and global politics to her candidacy, and a firm understanding of the importance of unions to our democracy. She is for restoring union collective bargaining rights, increasing the minimum wage and strengthening overtime rules, protecting retirement security, and expanding investments in green infrastructure to create good union jobs while fighting climate change.

We recognize that a substantial proportion of our members supported Bernie Sanders and his fight for single payer health care, a $15 minimum wage, reining in Wall Street, and creating a “political revolution” in this country. We believe that this struggle must continue, and CFT intends to play a leading role alongside the rest of organized labor in this ongoing transformation of our American political culture.

Donald Trump’s candidacy represents the biggest threat to democracy in our lifetime. His hateful comments in the face of the past weekend’s unspeakable tragedy in Orlando, his racist anti-Muslim and anti-Mexican rhetoric, his misogyny, as well as his denial of climate change, underscore his complete inability to provide leadership at the most crucial times.

The populist message that emerged in the primary is an indication that many Americans want change. We must build a progressive alternative to business as usual, strengthen working and middle class values, and embrace and welcome diversity. With our help, Hillary Clinton will be the president who will make that happen.

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The California Federation of Teachers is the statewide affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, and represents more than 100,000 certificated and classified employees in public and private schools and colleges, from early childhood through higher education.

Failed Vergara Suit Backers in Supreme Court Gambit

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Tuesday, May 24, 2016

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Failed Vergara Suit Backers in Supreme Court Gambit

We learned today that that David Welch and Students Matter have filed an appeal to the California Supreme Court in their failed Vergara v. California lawsuit. We are disappointed but not surprised that they are continuing to spend large sums of money on the suit and the PR campaign attached to it smearing teachers and public education.

The California Court of Appeal, in its unanimous 3-0 decision overturning the poorly reasoned Superior Court ruling by Judge Rolf Treu, left no room for doubt that the case has no constitutional standing, and that its claims are misplaced: “We reverse the trial court’s decision. Plaintiffs failed to establish that the challenged statutes violate equal protection, primarily because they did not show that the statutes inevitably cause a certain group of students to receive an education inferior to the education received by other students.” In other words, no connection was ever made between the challenged laws and any student being harmed or any teacher who should not be in a classroom remaining there. We are confident that the Supreme Court will agree with the Appeal Court ruling. 

It is past time to focus our attention on the real issues that confront public education in California and then work collaboratively on solutions that we know work. That begins with adequate resources and policies that support smaller class sizes, strengthen peer assistance and review, reinforce positive collaborative district practices, and address the looming teacher shortage.

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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.

CFT files amended lawsuit against Accrediting Commission

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Thursday, May 19, 2016

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Broader in scope than the S.F. City Attorney's

San Francisco, May 19, 2016—Today the California Federation of Teachers (CFT) filed an amended complaint with Superior Court Judge Curtis Karnow against the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC). The complaint, delayed for more than two years by ACCJC legal maneuvers, alleges a broad array of violations of federal laws and regulations, as well as California common law fair procedure, by the Commission. The plaintiffs, in addition to CFT, include several local community college faculty unions, a number of individual faculty members and a student.

Find the complaint here.

Two years ago Judge Karnow, responding to a suit filed by San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, found the ACCJC had violated four laws in its attempt to disaccredit City College of San Francisco. In the intervening time the agency has also been under scrutiny by the U.S. Department of Education, the state Joint Legislative Audit Committee, a task force formed by the State Chancellor of Community Colleges, and the California Community College Board of Governors. None of these studies and actions have turned out favorably for the ACCJC, but none have prevented the agency from continuing to violate fair and lawful accreditation policies.

The chief difference between the San Francisco City Attorney's suit and the CFT's—originally filed at the same time—is the wider breadth of the CFT complaint. Judge Karnow's decision reflected the San Francisco violations, but did not examine many other problems the ACCJC has created for college districts across the state.

Said CFT president Joshua Pechthalt, "Despite the wide and growing consensus that the ACCJC no longer meets the needs of California's community colleges, the agency continues to inflict damage on the ability of students to pursue accessible and affordable higher education, and on the ability of faculty and staff to deliver quality education. The ACCJC also harms taxpayers, whose money is wasted by the ACCJC's unfair and illegal practices. It is past time for the ACCJC to be replaced by a responsible accreditor, and it is the intent of this lawsuit to spell out the reasons why."

The plaintiffs allege that the ACCJC unlawfully and unfairly impinges on collective bargaining negotiations authorized by state law by demanding that colleges disregard their duty to negotiate over subjects such as wage increases and faculty working conditions. The amended lawsuit also asserts that ACCJC disregards due process rights of colleges, which are governed by California’s common law fair procedure doctrine. As a result, colleges are denied an opportunity to appeal sanctions and denied written findings of fact on decisions made by the ACCJC. The suit also alleges that because ACCJC has been delegated the job of accrediting California’s community colleges, it must comply with a California open meeting law, the Bagley-Keene Act, which requires transparency, including open hearings by private organizations delegated certain state functions.

Shannon Lienhart, president of the Palomar Faculty Federation and a plaintiff in the suit, said, "The ACCJC has no place in the collective bargaining of my college, and no legal standing to pressure the district over how much of a raise to offer faculty. Nonetheless, the district administration told us that it could not offer more than a 0.85% raise because, according to the ACCJC, to do so would jeopardize our accreditation status."

"While the problems created by ACCJC in San Francisco might have been the worst, and are still reverberating in our student enrollment problems and college administration unfair labor practices, we are just the tip of the iceberg," said Tim Killikelly, president of AFT 2121, the faculty union at City College of San Francisco. "This suit aims to insure that all colleges in the state are protected going forward from what happened to us."

Jim Mahler, president of the CFT's Community College Council, commented, "We are pursuing this law suit due to the continuing unrepentant attitudes and actions of this agency. It is noteworthy that the statewide association of Community College Presidents/Superintendents/Chancellors is seeking to reform the ACCJC and seek a new accreditor for our Community Colleges. But in the meantime damage continues to be done. We hope this suit helps accelerate our progress toward fair accreditation."

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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.

Media contact

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