News Releases

Appeals Court Overturns Vergara Lawsuit

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Thursday, April 14, 2016

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More on the Vergara lawsuit

Educators Applaud Appellate Ruling in Meritless Vergara Lawsuit

LOS ANGELES —In a sweeping victory for students and educators, the California Court of Appeal today reversed a lower court decision in the deeply flawed Vergara v. California lawsuit. The unanimous appellate opinion is a stinging rebuke to Judge Rolf M. Treu’s poorly-reasoned ruling, and to the allegations made and millions of dollars spent by wealthy anti-union ducation reformers” to bypass voters, parents, and the legislature with harmful education policy changes. The reversal affirms the arguments of educators, civil rights groups, legals cholars and education policy experts that the state statutes affirming educator rights do not harm students. 

“This is a great day for educators, and, more importantly, for students,” said California Teachers Association President Eric C. Heins. “Today’s ruling reversing Treu’s decision overwhelmingly underscores that the laws under attack have been good for public education and good for kids and that the plaintiffs failed to establish any violation of a student’s constitutional rights. Stripping teachers of their ability to stand up for their students and robbing school districts of the tools they need to make sound employment decisions was a wrong-headed scheme developed by people with no education expertise and the appellate court justices saw that.”

In their 36-page decision, Justices Boren, Ashmann-Gerst and Hoffstadt outline the numerous ways in which plaintiff’s arguments were wrong and Judge Treu’s decision declaring the statutes unconstitutional could not be affirmed. “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. … the statutes do not address the assignment of teachers; instead, administrators—not the statutes—ultimately determine where teachers within a district are assigned to teach. Critically, plaintiffs failed to show that the statutes themselves make any certain group of students more likely to be taught by ineffective teachers than any other group of students. With no proper showing of a constitutional violation, the court is without power to strike down the challenged statutes. The court’s job is merely to determine whether the statutes are constitutional, not if they are “a good idea.”…The judgment is reversed. The matter is remanded to the trial court with directions to enter judgment in favor of defendants on all causes of action.”

“Today’s decision vindicates decades of experience that show many local districts across the state are working collaboratively with teachers to help public education thrive. We need to take those best practices and expand them, not wipe out education codes that protect students and teachers,” said Joshua Pechthalt, president of the California Federation of Teachers. “We have a looming teacher shortage that is made worse by lawsuits like this one and the constant attacks on teachers and public education. We need to work together to raise up teacher performance and create a climate that keeps veteran teachers in the classroom and attracts young people to the profession.”

Vergara 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 back the suit and to recruit the nine student plaintiffs used to front their failed attempt. 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 cuts.

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 quite well to ensure quality instructors in well-run school districts. Plaintiff attorneys put on witnesses from often dysfunctional districts where administrators attempted to blame the laws instead of their own failures to fulfill basic responsibilities such as spending time in classrooms observing teachers or providing assistance to struggling educators. 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. The Court of Appeal decision repeatedly affirmed that the current laws do not prevent districts from making personnel decisions.

Pechthalt and Heins say now we can continue to focus on the work are entrusted to do and that is to educate our students.

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

 

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The 325,000-member CTA is affiliated with the 3.2 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.

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Board of Governors Votes to Reform Accrediting Agency

For immediate release: March 21, 2016

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CFT leadership applauds courageous change in accreditation

SACRAMENTO, MARCH 21, 2016 - In an historic vote in Sacramento today, the California Community Colleges Board of Governors voted unanimously to reform its current accrediting agency, the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC), and begin to establish a new model for fair accrediting practices with a new agency.

Leadership from the California Federation of Teachers turned out in support of the resolution of separation from the corrosive practices of the ACCJC.

“We congratulate the Board of Governors for taking a courageous vote today to change the accreditation system in California. We look forward to working with all stakeholders to ensure a valid accreditation system,” said CFT Secretary-Treasurer Jeff Freitas. “There are two million students whose full access to educational opportunity depends on it, and there are tens of thousands in particular at CCSF whose access has been terribly damaged and need special attention.”

California's community college system today made an historic turn toward fair accreditation after years of enduring the harsh, arbitrary and opaque practices of the ACCJC. With this vote the Board of Governors solidified plans to move to a new accreditor. This action is unprecedented anywhere in the country, and would mean a renewal of opportunity for California’s community college students.

“In my three decades working in the California Community College system I’ve rarely seen the kind of consensus and unification around an issue that we have seen in this effort to bring fair accreditation to California’s Community Colleges,” said Joanne Waddell, President of the Los Angeles College Faculty Guild, and a CFT Vice President.

“In order to ensure safe passage to a new accreditor for all our colleges, it will be necessary that there be a strong mechanism established to watch over the commission,” added Lacy Barnes, CFT Senior Vice President and instructor at Fresno City College.

President of American Federation of Teachers Local 2121 Tim Killikelly said, “The Board of Governor’s overwhelming decision today to move to a new accreditor is the right one and we applaud it.”

More information on the accreditation action (item 2.2) can be found on the Action Calendar page here.

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The California Federation of Teachers represents 120,000 education employees in public and private schools, from Head Start through the University of California. It is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO. For more information, www.cft.org.

Statement from CFT on the recent vote to increase the state’s minimum wage

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Thursday, March 31, 2016

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Higher Minimum Wage Will Help Millions

“Today, California lawmakers passed legislation that will raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour in the coming years. This is an important step and a common sense development that will improve the lives of millions of Californians currently struggling to make ends meet in an economy that too often seems rigged in favor of the haves at the sacrifice of working men and women. We applaud those who voted in favor of this bill.

“As an education union, we have a number of members who will be affected by an increase in the minimum wage, namely many in our classified ranks and others such as those who work in early childhood education. Many of the parents of our students will also benefit greatly from this change. People living on the margins will find a bit of economic breathing room, enabling them to better provide for their families.

“An increase in the minimum wage will help pull millions out of poverty. We commend the legislature for passing this legislation and getting it to the Governor for signing it.”

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The California Federation of Teachers represents more than 100,000 education employees in public and private schools, from Head Start through the University of California. It is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO.

Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Working People

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Tuesday, March 29, 2016

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Statement from CFT President Joshua Pechthalt

Friedrichs Decision a Blow to Corporate Special Interests

“Earlier today, working men and women across this country heard some welcome news: The United States Supreme Court ruled 4-4 in the Friedrichs v. CTA lawsuit. This is a victory for those who believe in fairness and the importance of having a voice on the job, good benefits and just wages. This is also a defeat for those corporate special interests fixated on weakening the collective will of millions of Americans while rigging both our economy and our democracy in their own favor.

“While this is a day to rejoice, it does not mean that our struggle is over. The deep-pocketed backers of the Friedrichs lawsuit and others will not simply give up. But their attacks, along with the Supreme Court’s ruling and the resilience of CFT’s members, only strengthen our resolve.
“Lawsuits such as Friedrichs v CTA and Vergara v California have been nothing but distractions. With Friedrichs now settled, it’s time that we shift our focus back to what’s important: Working to ensure that we have the best education system possible for the state of California. We have been given the gift of time, and we will use this time effectively on behalf of our members and our students and be ready for the next fight to come.”

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The California Federation of Teachers represents more than 100,000 education employees in public and private schools, from Head Start through the University of California. It is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO.

CC presidents move to reform, then leave ACCJC

For immediate release: March 17, 2016
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CC Presidents

City College of San Francisco students who testified on the damage ACCJC has caused their school to NACIQI in December.

Statement from CFT president Joshua Pechthalt

CFT applauds growing momentum for accreditor’s ouster

“Today California moved another step closer to reforming the broken accreditation system for California’s community colleges. With a more than 90% vote earlier this week to reform the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC), while preparing at the same time to move to another accreditor, community college presidents struck a decisive blow to ACCJC’s fading hopes of maintaining the unacceptable status quo.

“While a number of individual college presidents had already gone on record regarding the need to move to a new accreditor, this vote shows that a remarkable, unprecedented consensus has now emerged. The presidents’ vote confirms what the Chancellor’s Accreditation Task Force revealed last year: the ACCJC is no longer widely accepted in its community, and does not meet the needs of California public higher education. We expect that the California Community College Board of Governors will outline important details of the developing plan to make this historic move to a new accreditor.

“Last weekend at the annual CFT convention our members voted overwhelmingly for a special dues assessment, affirming CFT will have the resources for organizing and to fight for public education and workplace rights in the courtroom as needed. Our members know that ACCJC’s courtroom assault, like Vergara v. California, Friedrichs v. CTA and other cases bankrolled by anti-union billionaires, represents a grave ongoing threat to the viability of public education. Our membership does not intend to allow a victory in one arena with ACCJC to be undone in the courts.

“The CFT has been fighting for a fair and appropriate accreditation system—in court, at the US Department of Education, in the legislature and in the streets—ever since the ACCJC unfairly and unlawfully sanctioned City College of San Francisco in 2012.”

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The California Federation of Teachers represents 120,000 education employees in public and private schools, from Head Start through the University of California. It is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO. For more information, www.cft.org.

CFT Convention Delegates March, Arrested in Civil Disobedience Action for “the Education Californians Deserve”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Friday, March 11, 2016

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Show of unity with CCSF faculty union
SAN FRANCISCO – On Friday, dozens of educators were arrested following a march and rally calling for “the public education that all Californians deserve” while protesting the hard line taken by City College of San Francisco’s administration in contract negotiations with CCSF’s faculty union, AFT 2121. The show of unity came on the first day of the annual statewide convention for the California Federation of Teachers.image003

Members marched from the convention hotel in downtown San Francisco in a light rain to the law offices of Jeff Sloan, the chief negotiator for City College administration in collective bargaining with AFT 2121. CFT members were arrested for blocking the door of Sloan's offices in an act of civil disobedience.

For more than a year City College faculty has been struggling to negotiate a fair contract for its 1,500 members with the college’s administration. On Thursday the union announced that its members had voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike should negotiations fail.

“Today’s march was in support of City College faculty and students, who have suffered enough at the hands of the destructive accrediting commission, ACCJC. They should not also have to endure the bad judgment of their own college administration,” said CFT President Joshua Pechthalt. “Our action today also represents a statement by our members that California’s students – not only at City College but from preschool through university – deserve to be made a priority. We do so by funding our classrooms with an appropriate level of revenues, not by slashing education programs and failing to pay education employees a salary that can keep up with the skyrocketing cost of living in our cities.”image002

CFT’s convention is an annual gathering of six hundred union leaders, members and staff to discuss, debate and decided on important public education and labor policy issues. Extending the progressive income tax component of Prop 30, addressing the growing teacher shortage, combating the Vergara v California lawsuit that threatens teacher workplace protections and ensuring that the state’s community college system receives a fair accrediting process are among the topics being discussed this weekend.

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The California Federation of Teachers represents 120,000 education employees in public and private schools, from Head Start through the University of California. It is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO.

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