Friday, October 20, 2017

ABCFT Week in Review – October 20, 2017

Week in Review – October 20, 2017

This Monday the ABCFT Negotiating team convened to continue to prepare the ABCFT Master Contract proposal that we will be presenting on October 30. We hope to have a compensation agreement before the end of December but we anticipate that the Master Contract Negotiations will be resolved closer to February.  

In our visits this week to school sites we had discussions with members who spoke about the value of their health benefits package which is a positive source of satisfaction for many ABCFT members. Attached is a comparison of the ABC health benefits packages of all districts in LA County. Please note that until three years ago, ABC was the second lowest funded district in all of the LA County.  With the change in the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) at the State level, our base sum is now equal to most districts but there are bigger discrepancies in funding for districts when looking at the  amount of LCAP funding. Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) accounts for 8% of the ABC revenue. For all districts, LCAP funding is strongly tied to the percent of free and reduced lunch students in our schools. In ABC, we have 51% of our students that currently receive free and reduced lunches.

Last Tuesday a board meeting was held and here are the highlights:
Each school board meeting the board meeting is started with a pledge of allegiance and then an informational presentation called “Spotlight on Teaching Learning.” One major change Superintendent Dr. Sieu brought to the school board meetings was this spotlight time which highlights ABC Programs, Schools, Academic and Arts related topics. The spotlight is important for a couple of reasons. First, it give the community to see the wonderful programs and opportunities that are available to students and it is often a chance for principals, administrators, teachers, and students to proudly talk about their successes. The spotlight is also important because it gives the school board trustees an opportunity to learn about the many programs and achievements in ABC under their administration. Often the board members are able to ask presenters questions that further help to broaden the understanding of the board members and the value of their support of the many endeavors that are celebrated.

This week, four schools were highlighted for their progress for the 2016-2017 California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) results. Here is a link to the school board video and below are the times so you can skip to their presentations:
23:00 Dr. Sieu powerpoint highlighting the data that shows that ABC is truly exceptional.
33:00 Elliott Elementary
41:00 Hawaiian Elementary
48:00 Tetzlaff Middle School
57:00 Cerritos High School
1:32:00 Superintendent Report
Lastly, ABCFT President Ray Gaer spoke during the Employee Representatives Report.

Over this past week I attended/worked with unit members in representations, contract resolutions, email/text/phone call questions, site concerns, and mediations. Here are a couple of highlights from my week:

This week I worked with the negotiating team in preparation for contract negotiations on October 30th and on Tuesday I was able to briefly participate in the ABCFT Teacher Leader meetings that happened after school this week. These sixteen Teacher Leaders learned about the challenges public sector unions will be facing with the Janus Supreme Court case over the next six months and the impact it will have on union voice and protections of employees. The TL’s also worked on creating a leadership vision of their chosen research topic of interest in education.

On Thursday, Dr. Sieu and I were invited by the Fullerton School District to be keynote speakers  at their fourth PAL Retreat where we spoke for an hour about the communication and support structures for teachers in ABC and how collaboration has had a significant impact on student achievement and working conditions.  ABC has partnered with the Fullerton School District for a decade and we look forward to working with them next week at our 19th annual PAL Retreat.
I have attached a pdf of that presentation for those that are interested.

A special thank you for those teachers at Elliott who welcomed Ex.V.P. Tanya Golden and myself to visit them during their lunch. Their questions and input are appreciated.

Lastly, I was able to spend two hours meeting with teachers and staff at the Tracy Infant Center to collaborate with administrators on how to create communication systems and solutions for issues that have gone unnoticed for many years. The ABCFT teachers at Tracy Infant Center do an amazing job with our most vulnerable populations starting as young as seven months in age. Listening to how they care about the students and families of the population they serve is inspirational and I want to thank them for all they do, it is truly amazing work.

As always, have a great weekend and we will see you back here next week.

In Unity!

Ray Gaer
ABCFT President

(ABC Federation of Teachers)
On our Blog Site @


The fires in Northern California have been devastating to many of our members as well as the communities in which they live and work. Working with the AFT, we have set up a disaster relief fund to support CFT members who are victims of those fires.  Many individual members from throughout the state have already stepped up to donate to the fund. This is solidarity in action.

Individual members may still contribute. Those who wish to donate, can do so online here.

From our members in Northern California, thank you for support and care.
In Unity,
Jeff Freitas
Secretary Treasurer
California Federation of Teachers


AFT on Bill Gates’ Speech on His Evolving Education Efforts
WASHINGTON—Statement by American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on Bill Gates’ speech today to the Council of the Great City Schools, titled “Our Education Efforts are Evolving”:
“I am glad that as the nation is shifting from the fixation on testing, test-based teacher evaluations and shuttering rather than fixing public schools and other top-down, punitive measures of the No Child Left Behind era to one of creating safe and welcoming public schools where children can thrive, Bill and Melinda Gates also are evolving in their thinking. It’s encouraging that Bill Gates made clear he will not abandon public education and will learn from the educational progress that has been made in districts that have focused on children’s well-being, powerful learning, collaboration and building teacher capacity.
“A new approach that sets its sights on the school, not the corporate boardroom as the center of educational improvement, and providing support to schools as they undertake that work is a step in the right direction.
“The focus on locally generated solutions, using thoughtful reflection of what works, is a positive development and a welcome shift from the prescriptive mandates of the last decade and a half. The use of evidence-based interventions to improve student achievement, especially for those most in need, is important. And as I have learned from hundreds of school visits each year, Gates also recognizes that teachers need real curriculum support and professional development to build on the standards.
“The challenge now is turning these strategies into sustainable, scalable programs that will  reflect the voices of educators, parents, school leaders and community members as we work to transform classrooms, schools and learning.”

Statement by AFT President Randi Weingarten on President Trump’s Plan
To End Essential Healthcare Subsidies
WASHINGTON— President Trump announced last night that he will end subsidies to health insurance companies that help 7 million low-income Americans pay out-of-pocket costs. Earlier in the day, he signed an executive order to overhaul federal health regulations that will result in fewer protections for the most vulnerable Americans and will encourage the creation of health insurance plans that provide fewer benefits and fewer protections.
AFT President Randi Weingarten released the following statement:
“President Trump’s one-two punch yesterday targeting the financial underpinning of the Affordable Care Act is designed to gut the ACA. And his proposed replacement? Empty words. For example, if the president believed that making insurance available across state lines would make it more affordable, why not include it in the bipartisan work Sens. Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray have been doing in the Senate?
“While his words are empty, the president’s actions will make America sicker, poorer and worse off—for individuals who will have fewer and fewer insurance options, and for states whose budgets will now worsen as more people will be unable to afford health insurance and will revert to using emergency room medicine. Trump owns this unconscionable situation and bears responsibility for the harm it will cause.
“We support the states that will be taking legal action, and urge Congress to act to protect Americans from Trump’s reckless actions.”

Follow AFT President Randi Weingarten:

States sue Education Secretary over scrapping of for-profit college rules
California has joined 16 other states, along with the District of Columbia, in a lawsuit against the U.S. Education Department, and Secretary Betsy DeVos, for not enforcing an Obama-era rule intended to protect students and taxpayers from predatory for-profit schools. The so-called “gainful employment” rules were suspended by Mrs DeVos in June before they took effect; if enacted, they would have cut off federal funding for schools where students leave with high debt and end up in jobs with low salaries. The lawsuit, filed with the U.S. District Court in the nation's capital, comes as the Secretary faces criticism from student advocates and Democratic lawmakers for delaying action on tens of thousands of claims for loan forgiveness from former students at defunct for-profit colleges. Liz Hill, spokesman for Mrs. DeVos, called the suit politically motivated: “While this administration, and Secretary DeVos in particular, continue work to replace this broken rule with one that actually protects students, these legal stunts do nothing more than divert time and resources away from that effort.”
School employees forbidden to carry weapons
Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law Saturday that will remove the rights of school administrators to decide whether employees with concealed weapon permits can bring guns on campus. State law already prohibited civilians who are not school workers from bringing firearms onto campuses, but a change in the law last year gave school district superintendents power to decide if employees could bring concealed weapons onto campuses, according to Assemblyman Kevin McCarty (D- Sacramento), who authored the bill. The measure, AB424, was opposed by groups advocating for gun owners including the National Rifle Association and the Firearms Policy Coalition.
No extended paid maternity leave for teachers
Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday vetoed AB568, a law that would have granted teachers and other academic employees of California school districts, charter schools and community colleges at least six weeks of paid leave before or after giving birth. In his veto message, Mr Brown said school districts and teacher unions should work it out in contract bargaining, and encouraged both sides to have teachers participate in the disability insurance program.
California students may get a free year of college
First-time community college students can look forward to discounted – or free – classes during their first year on campus, thanks to AB19, just signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown.  The measure will allow the leaders of participating colleges to eliminate or to reduce fees for new, full-time students for an entire academic year, including the summer session that precedes fall classes. Tuition per unit at community colleges in California is $46.

Gov. Brown vetoes graduation-wear bill
Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday vetoed a bill that would have allowed California students to wear items of cultural significance on graduation day. Assembly Bill 233 - by Democrat Todd Gloria of San Diego,  sponsored by California Indian Legal Services and supported by the California Teachers Association - would have allowed on a statewide basis a custom that has been prohibited by some school districts in California. Brown said he believed the Constitution protects students’ rights to wear the cultural adornments, but said any disputes should be worked out by local school boards.
LAUSD schools lost more students than expected this year
Los Angeles USD's student enrollment numbers have decreased again, and a new headcount shows this year's drop was slightly bigger than district officials had anticipated. Instead of losing around 10,000 students - as originally forecast - L.A. Unified's final enrollment count was down by 13,000 students compared to last year, the district's chief financial officer Scott Price said – costing it an additional $17m in revenues. School board member Nick Melvoin has attributed the decline to such factors as a falling birthrate, the rise of charter schools, and the rising cost of living in the city.

Calaveras teachers plan Thursday strike
The Calaveras Unified Educators’ Association has announced that 138 teachers in Calaveras USD will begin industrial action from tomorrow (October 19th), due to unresolved disputes regarding class sizes, school safety issues, and salaries. The teachers have long argued that salary raises would help retain qualified teachers in the district, and have called for a 6.5% increase.  According to a press release from CUSD, campuses will remain open, but all extra-curricular activities, including sports, will be cancelled due to a potential lack of staff.

Calaveras teachers go on strike
Calaveras USD will be closed to its 2,900 students today, after union and district leaders were unable to reach an agreement in late-night discussions regarding teacher contracts. The district’s 138 teachers are going on strike over higher pay, lower class sizes, safety concerns, and the district curriculum. "We don't want to strike, but we will for our kids," said Calaveras Unified Educators’ Association President Lorraine Angel, adding: "We wanted to settle our contract dispute, but this district has unfortunately made it clear that students are not a top priority.” District leaders initially intended on keeping the doors to its schools open in the event of industrial action; however, not enough substitute teachers responded in time. Schools are also likely to remain closed on Friday.

CUSD strike in full effect
All Calaveras Unified School District schools remain closed today, as around 140 teachers and other staff members go on strike, impacting more than 2,800 students across eight campuses in northern Calaveras County. The strike comes after the district rejected a state-appointed fact finder’s recommended 6.5% salary increase, offering 2% in recent negotiations. District Superintendent Mark Campbell confirmed that compensation was the main point of disagreement: “That is almost the sole hang-up. We had a number of other peripheral issues that I think we can hammer out with no problem.”

To Kill a Mockingbird excluded after parental complaints
To Kill a Mockingbird, the Pulitzer Prize –winning novel about racism by Harper Lee, has been taken off a Mississippi school's reading list because it was making "people uncomfortable". Biloxi school administrators made the decision to withdraw it from the 8th grade curriculum after receiving complaints about the language in the book.”
California voters back K-12 science and computer classes
A new poll has found that 87% of Californian registered voters favor schools putting “greater emphasis on integrating science as part of the entire public school curriculum.” While awareness of the Next Generation Science Standards was low, 68% of respondents approved of the concept once the standards were described.

Woodland teacher returns to work after suspension for taking a knee
A Woodland USD teacher has returned to work from paid leave, following a brief suspension for kneeling during the national anthem at a school rally. Windy Pappas, a chemistry teacher at Woodland High School, was pictured on Friday holding two signs reading, “black lives matter” and “it is okay to disagree with any sign here” while kneeling during the national anthem. In an email to parents, Principal Karrie Sequeira-Hernandez said in California schools, "we operate under the 'Tinker Standard' which says that students may exercise their protected free speech rights at school as long as they do not create a disturbance that interferes with other students’ rights, health, safety or in the educational process." Ms Pappas said she had no regrets in taking the knee, but added she didn’t anticipate how many people would be angered by her act.

More troubles for LA school board member
Partnerships to Uplift Communities, the charter school network co-founded by Los Angeles USD Ref Rodriguez, has filed a complaint with the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission alleging that he had a conflict of interest when he authorized about $285,000 in payments drawn on its accounts. PUC’s senior managers said they uncovered the transfers - made in a series of checks - while responding to questions and requests from the Times in compliance with the state’s Public Records Act. The allegations come on top of an existing legal case for Mr Rodriguez, who was charged last month with three felonies and 25 misdemeanors for alleged money laundering in his school board campaign

Teen ordered to pay $235k to school district
Bret Stephen Landen, the teenager whose threats closed San Gabriel Elementary School for two weeks in 2015, has been ordered to pay Atascadero USD $235,341 in costs and lost revenues related to the incident. The district had originally sought roughly $476,000, including the costs for installing security fencing at two other district schools. Mr Landen, 19, was convicted in April 2016 of single felony counts of threatening to use a weapon of mass destruction and making criminal threats, and served around six months of a one-year prison sentence.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Week in Review – October 13, 2017

Week in Review – October 13, 2017



I want to take a pause...

This is perhaps the one of the most stressful environments any of us have experienced as educators and health care professionals. It seems like every week there is local, state and national tragedy or situation that impacts us and all of our students. Every American is impacted by this elevated stress. We have members and students that have been directly impacted by the fires or the tragedy in Las Vegas and our collective hearts go out to them. Now more than ever is when we collectively need to join together as a community. ABCFT is more than a union of bread and butter issues, we are together a community. Membership coordinator Tanya Golden and I visited Tetzlaff Middle School and Gonsalves Elementary this week and we started to think about all the relationships that are interconnected throughout the district. These relationships are formed by having common bonds, interests, and in the union's case it is about being a part of something bigger than ourselves and a shared vision.

First off, I would like to thank all of those who have written, called, or spoken to me about the value many are getting from reading the Friday Week in Review report by ABCFT. It is my hope that by doing a weekly update and finding other ways to connect with all members that each member will grow to feel that they have a better understanding of national, state, and local educational issues that have a direct or indirect impact on the ABC District. Furthermore, I see the Week in Review as a way to connect to each other because We are all the Union and collectively we each have important perspectives to offer each other.

But why is ABCFT is doing the Week in Review emails now? This a good question and has many answers but the desire to get more information to the membership has always been the drive. I’ll be the first to admit that becoming a new local union president is like being a new teacher who I was given the keys to the classroom and told to go teach. It’s overwhelming , a journey and a trial by fire. Just like teaching, it takes about five years to get to the point where you feel like you are competent. Last February, amidst a downpour of changes at the Union office and a philosophical battle with CFT I had my moment of clarity. As a Vice President of the California Federation of Teachers, ABCFT has a mighty voice at the table. Moreover, at the national level I am part of the Program and Policy Committee for the American Federation of Teachers and ABCFT impacts unions nationally. BUT our voice can be stronger locally. To build that voice we need to build capacity and understanding local needs.

What emerged from the transitional events of last February was the realization that ABCFT could increase its capacity, purpose, and a determination to empower members. The ABC Federation of Teachers is not just a faceless organization, but a professional, collaborative, knowledgeable, learning unit filled with passionate teachers and nurses who believe in being part of something larger than themselves. Empowerment is our collective right. It’s what we do for our students every day in our classrooms and we need to own it.

In the future we will be showcasing more ways for members to get to know each other and we will continue to produce the Week in Review to continue to build a common understanding among members. I look forward to seeing you at one of our visits soon.

Have a great weekend and we will see you back here next week.

In Unity!

Ray Gaer
ABCFT President

(ABC Federation of Teachers)

Statement of AFT President Randi Weingarten on President Trump’s
Executive Order to Undermine Protections for Americans’ Health Insurance Coverage
Under the Affordable Care Act
‘Donald Trump owns the unwinding of the Affordable Care Act.’

WASHINGTON—President Trump today signed an executive order to overhaul federal health regulations, which he said would lead to the full repeal of the Affordable Care Act. The order will result in fewer protections for the most vulnerable Americans, such as those with pre-existing conditions, and will encourage sham, loosely regulated health insurance plans that won’t provide adequate benefits. Ultimately, this could lead to the collapse of individual health insurance markets through which millions of Americans obtain coverage.
AFT President Randi Weingarten released the following statement:
“Donald Trump owns the unwinding of the Affordable Care Act. He is ignoring the rule of law, refusing to compromise, and doing an end-run around Congress in order to strip people of their healthcare. Millions of Americans will be worse off because of his actions.
“This is an ongoing pattern of the Trump administration’s callous sabotage of Obamacare, and it will cause real harm to American families, leading to increased premiums and loss of coverage for those most in need of healthcare and flooding markets with cheap, limited ‘junk’ insurance.”

Follow AFT President Randi Weingarten:

Scrapping AP exam data is mistaken
In an opinion piece, Matthew Randazzo , of the National Math and Science Initiative, says the Department of Education’s proposal to stop the collection of Advanced Placement exam performance data from U.S. schools is wrong, as “this is the very time we should be expanding access to data and increasing transparency, not limiting its collection, analysis and action.” He says: “Among other things, the AP testing data help identify STEM deserts. These areas fail to offer rigorous math and science classes that provide students with knowledge, skills and dispositions to reach their full potential and thrive in the 21st century economy.”

Trump makes DACA demands
The Trump administration has called on Congress to deliver funding for the border wall and to make dramatic changes to immigration policy in exchange for letting young people brought illegally to the U.S. as children stay in the country. Its principles are meant as the framework for a legislative reworking of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that President Trump terminated in September with a six-month consultation period to allow for congressional action. “These findings outline reforms that must be included as part of any legislation addressing the status of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients,” Trump said. “Without these reforms, illegal immigration and chain migration, which severely and unfairly burden American workers and taxpayers, will continue without end.” In response, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and house minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said: “We told the president that we were open to reasonable border security measures alongside the DREAM Act, but this list goes so far beyond what is reasonable – this proposal fails to represent any attempt at compromise.”

There are still 3 times as many Hispanic students as teachers
According to data released by the Urban Institute, Hispanic students make up about one-quarter of all K-12 students - but under 10% of all teachers, by far the largest gap of any ethnic group. “Hispanic students make up a growing share of the student body, but the supply of Hispanic teachers has not kept up,” the researchers write. “In fact, the share of Hispanic students has grown so much that even if Hispanic adults became teachers at the same rate as white adults, there would still be a gap.” In order for America’s teaching demographics to more closely resemble its student population, the institute says that “by expanding the pool of college graduates, we expand the pool of potential teachers. The pipeline to a teaching career starts well before college graduation.”

California schools benefitting from reformed funding system
In an opinion piece, Tom Torlakson, California’s superintendent of public instruction, and Michael Kirst, president of theCalifornia Board of Education, say that the state is making major improvements in public education to ensure that all its 6.2m students have the support they need to be successful in college, careers, and life. These changes include a new, equity-focused funding system; a new school accountability system that has dramatically improved data transparency, making disparities impossible to ignore; new, challenging K-12 learning standards; and a new state-of-the-art online testing system. California, they say, is already seeing promising signs of improved student outcomes with high school graduation rates at a historic high, and gaps between the graduation rates of student groups narrowing.

Over half of students miss English standard
According to the California Department of Education, just over half of the state’s students failed to meet English standards based on spring 2017 standardized test results released last week, a performance that remained essentially flat compared to the previous year. Meanwhile, students performed even worse on math tests, with nearly two-thirds falling short. It is the third year that students took a new, computer-based test that adheres to Common Core State Standards, a national education approach intended to promote critical-thinking and problem-solving skills over memorization. “I’m pleased we retained our gains, but we have much work to do,” said Tom Torlakson, state superintendent of public instruction. “We need to work diligently to narrow achievement gaps and make sure students continue to make progress.”

Exit exam scrapped
California has permanently scrapped the High School Exit Examination under legislation signed by Governor Jerry Brown this week. The exam was suspended in 2015, after state officials said it wasn’t aligned with recently adopted Common Core education standards. The suspension, approved later that year, allowed some 32,000 students who failed to pass the test as far back as 2004 to receive diplomas, as long as they had completed their other coursework. “We believe that it accomplished its mission, and now that the state has moved on to new standards with higher standards,” said Keric Ashley, the deputy state superintendent of public instruction, in April. “And now the emphasis is to make students college and career ready. And we have an assessment to match that.”

New superintendent ‘will be from outside the district’
Montebello USD is poised to pick its  new superintendent from outside the district. According to a district official with knowledge of the board’s decision, neither of the final two candidates currently work for MUSD. In a recent interview, teachers union president Doug Patzkowski said he hoped whoever filled the role “doesn’t have any connections to the political process that’s been going on in this district up until now.”

Charter chain fined £2m
The California Department of Education has issued a critical audit of the online charter-school chain California Virtual Academies, finding several contractual violations and irregularities, and has imposed a  $1,995,148 fine. Auditors found that the group overpaid supervisory fees to the school districts that chartered its schools - amounting to $1.2m in the two years it reviewed. The investigators also flagged $2m in improper accounting of Common Core funds in 2014-15. The state’s largest teachers union welcomed the audit. “It  just reaffirms why we need to have more transparency and accountability over charters,” said Eric C. Heins, president of the California Teachers Association.

Malala attends first Oxford lecture
Education campaigner Malala Yousafzai, who as a schoolgirl in Pakistan was shot in the head by militants after writing about life under Taliban rule, has attended her first lecture at Oxford University. The 20-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner tweeted to mark her first day at Lady Margaret Hall college, saying: “Five years ago, I was shot in an attempt to stop me from speaking out for girls' education. Today, I attend my first lectures at Oxford.”