Tom Torlakson’s reelection is a victory for Public Education

By Joshua Pechthalt
In spite of all of the outside money coming into California from billionaires, corporate interests and other anti-union forces, the people of this state made it clear that they weren’t going to have the fate of their children’s education decided by the 1% “reformers.”

With the re-election of Tom Torlakson as the State Superintendent of Public Instruction in California, we learned once again that engaging thousands of educators across the state is more powerful than a million dollar, anti-teacher campaign.

For the last four years, Torlakson has demonstrated that he is a champion of public education and is committed to expanding early childhood education as a way to increase student success. He understands the need for raising more revenue to fund the changes we need to improve teaching and learning. The Superintendent has also been successful in building a broad coalition around education reform while he has resisted the urge to through teachers and education unions under the bus.


Ferguson nothing new, not so far away

The following Op-Ed by CFT President Joshua Pechthalt originally ran in the Los Angeles Daily News on Sept. 10. You can read the Op-Ed below, as well as here

Ferguson is not so far from Los Angeles.

On April 29, 1992, I was wrapping up another day teaching at Manual Arts High School in the heart of South Los Angeles, preparing to return to my home in nearby Leimert Park, when the civil unrest in response to the acquittal of four police officers charged in the beating of Rodney King erupted around the school. After six days, more than 50 people lay dead and burned-out buildings reflected more than a $1 billion in property damage.

In 1965, as a young boy of 12 growing up in the Mid City neighborhood of Los Angeles, I also lived through the Watts Rebellion, which exploded after a confrontation between the police and the African-American community and resulted in 34 deaths and tens of millions of dollars in damage.

And now we have Ferguson.


More transparency required at community college accrediting agency

The following Op-Ed by CFT President Joshua Pechthalt originally ran in the Sacramento Bee on Aug. 26. In it, President Pechthalt urged Gov. Brown to sign AB 1942 for fair community college accreditation practices. The Governor ultimately signed the bill the following month. You can read the Op-Ed below, as well as here.

A bipartisan, unanimous vote in the Legislature doesn’t happen every day. So it’s worth noting that Assembly Bill 1942, for fair community college accreditation practices, recently passed 36-0 in the Senate and 74-0 in the Assembly.


East Bay Assemblyman Rob Bonta’s bill is on the governor’s desk. The bill has fewer requirements for its target – the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges – than an earlier version. Nevertheless, it is a step in the right direction for more transparency in the notoriously secretive agency, and signals that previously hands-off legislators understand that they need to monitor the commission more closely.

Over the past year, the formerly obscure private agency – in charge of accrediting the state’s 112 community colleges – has been under public scrutiny following its unprecedented and unwarranted closure order for City College of San Francisco. Its justifications related to administrative, governance and fiscal oversight issues. City College’s quality of education was never questioned.


Doing what works for school success

The following Op-Ed by CFT President Joshua Pechthalt originally ran in the Orange County Register on Aug. 26. You can read it below, as well as here.

In my home, like millions across the country, kids and parents are preparing for the beginning of a new school year. New backpacks are stuffed with folders, pencils, pens and erasers. Kids hurry off to meet friends, check out their new teachers and classes and settle in for another year of learning, physical and emotional growth and hopefully some fun.

Lurking in the background of all the excitement of another school year is a recent superior court decision that could hurt the very kids for whom the plaintiffs claim to advocate. The Vergara v. California lawsuit, nominally brought by nine students but funded and supported by wealthy businessmen David Welch and Eli Broad, threatens to hack away at provisions of the State Education Code, particularly those involving teacher seniority and due process.


Present & Accounted For

School Attendance is a Predictor of Future Success

For teacher and students alike, being part of the learning experience where thoughts are shared, assumptions are challenged and new ideas are explored can be truly magical. Unfortunately, too many students miss out on the joy of learning because they are absent from school.

The research is clear that regular attendance is critical for academic achievement. It may seem a ridiculously obvious concept, but as we celebrate the nation’s second annual Attendance Awareness Month this September, regular school attendance is an issue that needs to be addressed.


Leading the Way on Single Payer

The following is a speech CFT President Joshua Pechthalt gave at the Labor Campaign for Single Payer National Conference on Aug. 23 in Oakland

Good morning,

Thank you for inviting me to speak at your conference. I have been involved in the struggle to promote single payer health care reform for some time now but more importantly, my union the California Federation of Teachers, has supported single payer health care reform for many years.