News Releases

California Educators Appeal Decision in Meritless Vergara Lawsuit

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Wednesday, February 25, 2016

Contact:  Fred Glass, 510-579-3343
For CTA: Frank Wells, 562-708-5425   

Civil Rights Icon Dolores Huerta joins educators and community supporters in urging court to overturn flawed decision for the sake of all students

LOS ANGELES —Attorneys representing more than 400,000 members of the California Teachers Association and California Federation of Teachers appeared in the US Court of Appeal today in downtown Los Angeles, to ask that the June 2014 ruling in the deceptive and meritless Vergara v. State of California be overturned for the sake of California’s six million students.

At a press conference before the opening arguments were made, Attorney Michael Rubin laid out the case for reversing the faulty opinion of Judge Treu. Appearing with Mr. Rubin were longtime union and civil rights leader Dolores Huerta, southern California elementary school teacher Gaby Ibarra, and Martha Sanchez a concerned parent who believes current laws work best for students.

Stating that Judge Treu’s decision striking down five California Education Code provisions “is without support in law or fact,” the speakers predicted that Treu’s numerous errors will be clearly visible to the appeals court, and the earlier Superior Court judgment will be overturned. Treu’s decision was stayed pending appeal. But if upheld it would cause great harm to public education.

“There is no basis in law or fact for the trial court’s unprecedented ruling, and we are confident that the Court of Appeal will reverse it. Disputes over education policy are for the legislature to resolve, not the courts,” said Michael Rubin, legal counsel representing California’s educators. “The statutory framework allows school districts considerable latitude in hiring, firing, and assigning teachers and was well within the legislature’s authority to enact. There is no evidence – zero – that these statutes are the cause of any constitutional violation, and we are confident that the Court of Appeal will fully agree with our position.”

Dolores Huerta, renowned civil rights leader, founder of the Dolores Huerta Foundation and co-founder of the National Farm Workers Association, talked about the importance of teachers’ have a strong voice for students and described how Students Matter misrepresented details of the case in an attempt to get her support. 

“I strongly believe in providing all children with equal access to a quality public education, and that starts with having educators who have the professional rights to stand up and speak out for the students in their classrooms,” said Dolores Huerta. “All my life I have worked to fight discrimination, uphold the rights of workers and improve social and economic conditions for our students and their families. I am not going to stop now by aligning myself with an organization that blatantly misrepresents the facts and pushes an agenda to strip workers of their rights for the financial gain of its backers. Students Matter is attempting to deceive the courts and public opinion in the same way they attempted to deceive me and it’s time to tell the truth.”

Huerta, whose foundation has worked on education issues for the last five years in the Central Valley, had made a video with Students Matter, which was posted on their website. However, after learning that the suit would strip basic workplace rights from teachers, and that the backers of Students Matter were some of the same corporate special interests who opposed a recent ballot measure that immediately stopped devastating budget cuts to California’s schools and also pushed an initiative aimed at silencing the voices of workers and their unions, she demanded that the organization remove her video from their website. 

Gaby Ibarra, who has been teaching fifth grade at Niemes Elementary School in the ABC Unified School District in southern California for 19 years, told reporters she feels outraged that this baseless suit demonizes teachers and proposes to destroy her right to due process. 

“My students need me to be secure in my classroom in my knowledge that I have the freedom to teach in the way that I know is best," said Ibarra. “My rights in the classroom are what protect the right of my students to a good education. Rather than demonizing teachers, we should be talking about integrating art and music in the curriculum, hiring more nurses and librarians, lowering class sizes, providing more resources for our schools, and about parents and teachers working together more effectively. This suit does none of these things. It does not fix the problems we know are there, and attempts to fix problems that don’t exist.”

Martha Sanchez whose children attend Los Angeles Unified School District schools believes current laws ensure her students have the best opportunity to succeed in school.

“As a parent I believe my children receive the best education possible when their teachers have clear employment rights. No teacher should have to worry about arbitrary administrator decisions or political whims to know they will have their jobs each year. Any lawsuit that tries to remove those rights, claiming that this is the reason why students don't have the best education possible, was written by people who either don't know what happens in schools or who wish harm to public education.”

CFT and CTA joined Governor Jerry Brown in submitting appeals, as did State Superintendent Tom Torlakson. Those appeals expose deep and numerous flaws in the lower court ruling, among them that there is no evidence the challenged laws have caused harm or inevitably would cause harm to anyone, that the court blatantly ignored evidence proving these laws improve the quality of public education for California students, that the court intruded on an inherently legislative function, and that the student plaintiffs recruited to front the case have absolutely no standing to bring suit. Some of those students attended charter and pilot schools that aren’t even governed by these laws, and the teachers they complained about in their testimony had very good evaluations; one was the Pasadena Unified School District Teacher of the Year. Prominent civil rights groups, national education policy experts, school board members from across the state, and top legal scholars have also filed their own briefs urging reversal of the earlier ruling.

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 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.

 

Governor’s State of the State: Progress, Challenge of Inequality

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Thursday, January 21, 2016

Contact:  Fred Glass, 510-579-3343, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Statement from CFT President Joshua Pechthalt

Clear Case for Prop 30 Renewal

“In his State of the State address delivered earlier today, Governor Jerry Brown spoke eloquently of California’s strengths and challenges in the coming year. He underscored the state’s significant fiscal gains following a period of deep economic recession, but did not shy away from directly addressing the growing disparity between the top 1 (and .1) percent and everyone else that threatens the California Dream. He spoke of the many recent improvements to the lives of Californians, especially in comparison with most other states, but also emphasized the unpredictable threat of future recessions. We applaud the governor’s measured and thoughtful message.

“Gov. Brown briefly gave credit to the positive impact that Proposition 30 has had on California’s fiscal stability and the resulting restoration of spending on public schools and community colleges. However, Prop 30’s expiration puts that progress and stability at risk. The governor’s own evidence clearly shows the necessity to extend the progressive income tax component of Prop 30, a modest obligation for the state’s wealthiest individuals but a significant source of revenue that benefits millions of students across California.

“The Governor concluded his remarks by stating that “California is still The Great Exception. We dare to do what others only dream of.” This sentiment and reality depend on maintaining and extending the sources of revenue that support them—especially given that, as Governor Brown indicated, our state’s economy is susceptible to downturns. The inevitability of a future recession makes Prop 30 essential to continued funding for education and to help stabilize the overall budget.”

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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.

UTLA Votes to Invest in Union, Public Education

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Contact:  Fred Glass, 510-579-3343, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 


Statement from CFT President Joshua Pechthalt

Members Overwhelmingly Support Dues Increase

“On Wednesday, our sisters and brothers in United Teachers Los Angeles voted overwhelmingly to support their union and to lead the fight to preserve and improve public education in the second largest school district in the country. Over 14,000 of UTLA’s members participated in the vote, with 82 percent in favor of a dues increase. We applaud UTLA’s members and leaders for taking this courageous action.

“This vote underscores the commitment of UTLA members to strengthening their union’s ability to fight for a quality public education for all children and to fend off the relentless effort by billionaires to impose their vision of education on the people of Los Angeles and in California.

“This historic vote comes just as petitions are being circulated to place an initiative on the June ballot that would extend Proposition 30 by asking California’s wealthiest 2% to continue to pay a bit more in personal income tax. UTLA’s vote is one further indication that rank and file teachers are willing to pay more in union dues to support the struggle for quality public education.

“The CFT looks forward to working together with UTLA to extend Prop 30 and to create the kind of quality public education in our state that is a model for the rest of the country.”

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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.

Californians Testify at D.C. Hearing to Replace Accreditor

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Contact:  Fred Glass, 510-579-3343, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Students, faculty and elected officials say, “ACCJC has to go!”

Washington, D.C. — Thirty community college faculty and students today were joined by elected officials and the President of the California Federation of Teachers in a Washington D.C. hearing to testify about the urgent need to remove the current accreditor (Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, or ACCJC) for the state’s community colleges and replace it with one capable of fair and competent accreditation practices.

Appearing before the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI), which oversees regional accreditors like the ACCJC, CFT President Joshua Pechthalt said, “We believe in a strong and fair accreditation body that protects and improves the quality of education for California’s two million students. Unfortunately, our accreditor, the lawbreaking ACCJC, does none of these things. We’d like NACIQI to be part of the process of helping us find an accreditor that works on behalf of students and quality education.”

The members of the delegation from California laid out the many reasons why virtually every stakeholder in California now believes this rogue accreditor must be replaced. Following the hearing, NACIQI will recommend action to the US Secretary of Education.

In prepared remarks delivered by Vice-Chancellor Paul Feist, California Community College Chancellor Brice Harris told the NACIQI, “There is widespread consensus among our colleges that the ACCJC is no longer a reliable authority regarding the quality of education or training provided by the colleges it accredits.”

The ACCJC has been on a year-to-year reauthorization for the past two years. While recognizing that there are significant problems with the agency, Department of Education staff has nonetheless recommended another one-year reauthorization pending correction of the violations. The California group traveled to Washington to argue against reauthorization.

Tim Killikelly, CCSF Political Science instructor and president of AFT Local 2121 said, “The ACCJC has to go – it should not be an accreditor any more. The commissioners are not credible. They have acted outrageously and abused their authority.”

CCSF English instructor Alisa Messer told NACIQI members, “I urge you to move beyond the staff report's thoughtful but inadequate recommendation that ACCJC be granted further time. The ACCJC's dismissive attitude to member institutions, students, and even to the Department of Education—its flaunting of rules and regulations, its numerous underground and opaque standards—all suggest that NACIQI should not be hopeful that the ACCJC can or will reform itself.”

Win-Mon Kyi, a first generation Burmese-American student and president of the CCSF Asian Student Union said, “My parents took English classes and basic skills courses at City College before me. They own a restaurant in San Francisco in which I work while going to school. The cuts to diversity studies departments put my dreams in jeopardy. Keeping the ACCJC for any moment longer will further destabilize thousands more students' lives.”

To contact members of the delegation who spoke at the hearing, call 510-579-3343.

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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. More info: www.cft.org.

Key Steps Taken to Remove Unreliable ACCJC -- California’s Community College Accreditor

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Monday, November 16, 2015

Robert Fulton, 858-342-4532
Cherri Senders, 818-422-2787 

State Board directs Chancellor to implement plan for a new model

Walnut, CA – The Community College Board of Governors unanimously passed a resolution declaring that the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) “no longer meets the current and anticipated needs of California community colleges.”

“Today’s vote makes clear that the ACCJC is an impediment to student success and needs to be replaced,” said Joshua Pechthalt, president of the California Federation of Teachers. “The organization and its leadership lack credibility and are causing serious harm to our community colleges, faculty and the more than two million students they serve. They need to go now.”

The State Board of Governors directed Chancellor Brice Harris to come up with “a recommendation for action to establish a new model for an accrediting agency,” including a plan and timeline.

Monday’s action was in response to the Chancellor’s Accreditation Task Force Report, issued in August, which cites a multitude of failures by the ACCJC and recommends that California replace it with a new agency.

“The report is very clear: We need an accrediting agency that is transparent, responsive, consistent and free from conflicts of interest,” said Joanne Waddell, President of the Los Angeles College Faculty Guild, AFT 1521, who served on the task force.

In addition to the CFT, the Chancellor’s task force report has received widespread support from around the state, including the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges, the California Community Colleges School Employees Association and the Community College Association.

“The ACCJC has lost all perspective in its role in accreditation and has become a detriment to the success of our students,” said Dean Murakami, President of the Los Rios College Federation of Teachers. “That this commission lacks credibility in the eyes of its peers and the public is an understatement. Organizations far and wide have voiced their displeasure with this rogue accrediting body.”

Next month the CFT will travel to Washington, DC to make its case for removing the ACCJC before the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) and the Department of Education which is in charge of authorizing accreditors.

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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. More info: www.cft.org.

Faculty leaders voice support for task force recommendation of a new accreditor

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Friday, October 30, 2015

Fred Glass, 510-579-3343, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Commentary provided during ACCJC’s Bakersfield “listening session”

Faculty leaders from nearby colleges descended on Bakersfield College to provide comments at the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior College’s “listening session” earlier today. Faculty were represented on the Community College Chancellor’s Task Force on Accreditation. The Task Force’s report, released August 28, recommended replacing the ACCJC with a new accreditor.

Despite the event in Bakersfield being described as a “listening session,” ACCJC President Barbara Beno did not participate, and Commission Chair Steve Kinsella was only available by phone.

“Beno was a no-show and Kinsella could only bother to call in,” said Tim Killikelly, president of the faculty union at City College of San Francisco. “This is listening?”

“The ACCJC just doesn’t get it,” Killikelly continued. “The Task Force says that we must find a new accreditor, not just ask them to act more reasonable and stop abusing their authority. That ship has sailed.”

In addition to Killikelly, other faculty leaders in attendance included Lacy Barnes, President of State Center Federation of Teachers; and Paul Tidwell of College of the Sequoias.

“The California Community Colleges deserve an accreditor committed to genuine peer evaluation, transparency in decision-making and respect for faculty and faculty rights,” Tidwell said. “Time and again the ACCJC has shown arrogant disregard for these attributes in favor of back-room deals, autocratic leadership and arbitrary sanctions. Politically motivated campus restructuring around arcane standards has had a catastrophic impact on finances, enrollment and morale statewide. Faculty and students in the largest system of higher education in the U.S. need to be freed from the fear and intimidation spread by the ACCJC. For these, and myriad other reasons, it is time for a new accreditor."

Last month the California Community College Board of Governors (BOG) directed State Community Chancellor Brice Harris to send his Accreditation Task Force's Report to the United States Department of Education. The report cited a multitude of failures by the current California community college accreditor.

“The ACCJC does not seem to understand the gravity of its situation,” said Barnes, also a CFT Senior Vice President. “The Task Force Report clearly demonstrates ‘no confidence’ in that body. The time for the commissioners to ‘listen’ has long passed; it is time for them to make their exit.”

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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. More info: www.cft.org.

Media contact

If you are a reporter or have a media inquiry, please call This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Communications Specialist at 510-523-5238.