Governor’s Special Session Aims to Take on Federal-State Healthcare Issues

Legislators have been convening in both the regular session and in a special session. Gov. Jerry Brown called the special session to pave the way for enrollment in Covered California, the first-in-the-nation health benefits exchange created to implement the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Covered California is authorized to organize the private insurance market so that millions of Californians can secure health care protections within their budget. The plan will provide less expensive costs, more competition among insurers, and more information for consumers about price, quality and service.

Covered California will provide great benefits to those not currently covered, including Student CTA members, laid-off educators, and part-time employees.

How Teachers Can Stop the Organized Attack on Teaching

Teachers often feel powerless in the face of the assaults against their profession. Often they are directed to do things that they know are educational malpractice, and they have no choice but to comply.

The best way to resist is through collective action, like the testing boycott of the Seattle teachers. One person standing alone is admirable but will be fired. What is necessary is for entire faculties to speak as one. Think of the Chicago Teachers Union. Their detractors changed the state law to prevent them from striking, raising the requirement for a strike vote to 75%. Their enemies, organized by Jonah Edelman of the notorious Stand for Children, and paid for by the equity investors of Chicago, thought that 75% would make a strike impossible.

But CTU patiently educated, mobilized, and organized. When the vote came, more than 90% of the members authorized the strike. And the strike was supported by parents, who understood that the teachers were fighting for their children.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. taught us all that mass protests could defeat big money and political power. He taught us not to be afraid. He taught us the power of collective action by the powerless. Together, in concert, when justice is on your side, mass action cannot be defeated.

A new book gathers stories about stories of courage in response to the attacks on teachers and on public education. This article profiles one teacher who organized his colleagues to resist a merit pay plan in New York City. Why resist a plan that would produce more money for teachers? Because it would harm students.

If all of us showed courage whenever possible, if all of us worked together to alert the public to educational malpractice, we could stop it.

Oh, and the merit pay plan that the city designed and implemented, the one described in the link? It failed and was canceled after a three-year trial and more than $50 million wasted. – Diane Ravitch

Rep Council Meeting Minutes 2/5/13

Rep Council Meeting Minutes

Blondies Bar and Grill

2/5/13 – 3:30-5:15


Members present – Katherine Epstein, Bob Blaine, Joy Holleran, Tom Buck, Miranda Merino, Cathy Valdez, Sylvia!, Tricia Cowen, Sylvia Shephard, Aja Cook, Kathleen Steiert, Carolyn Thomas, Alyson Brauning, Debbie Cavanaugh, Ginny Miller, JULIE TIMMERMAN,  Chris Fickes, Larry Baker, Mark Richardson, Linda Phelan, Samantha Mauder, Lili Fisher, Sofia Felix, Julie McGee, Russ Tucker, Gary Eisenberg, Marsha Rucker, Stephanie Munzinger, Linda Covey, Sharon Riehl, Christine Williams, Brenda Hensley, Moira McSweeney, Corey Penrose, Suzi Morgan, Helen Blood


Members absent – Todd Blanset, Diane Dahl, Lenore Hubal, Dawn Waid, Tracy Begley, Tom Kutz, Jenny Brown


1) – Approval of the minutes – the minutes were approved.


2) – Approval of the agenda – the agenda was approved after state council was moved up in the agenda.


3) – State council – Jerry Eaton, Julie Timmerman and Corey Penrose reported on the last state council meeting.  For the specifics, and the action items, please click here.


4) – Health care reform act – Brenda reported how the AHCA will likely affect health care costs for our district as the act is implemented in upcoming years.  The report finished with a discussion of the ramifications of the AHCA.  For more information, please click here.


5) – Presidents report – Moira reported on the following:


Leave update – Moira reviewed some of the district’s upcoming leave verification procedures including the bereavement leave requirements.


Budget – some of the specifics of the governor’s proposal were discussed.  The specifics for this handout can be found here.


NEA-RA delegates – The election for delegates will be held in March and the deadline for declaration of candidacy is March 8th.  Election packets will be given out at the March 12th rep council meeting.  There will also be an increased focus on improving our voting percentages and representation, especially with unit members who travel to multiple sites or work at the ESC.


Early college high school – will be starting with the 13-14 school year.  After reviewing the specifics of the program, Moira reported that we’ll meet with Mark Fraizer to discuss plans for staffing and address concerns about the effect this may have on members’ jobs in the future.  If you have some additional questions or concerns, please contact Moira.


Redwood Conference – it’s free and more information is available here.


Site Visits – have been going really well.  Feb 13th is the next opening for a visit, and there are more opportunities available in March either at lunchtime or after school..


Special Ed –reported steps to follow if you are injured or threatened by a student.


-Report the incident to the North Bay Company nurse.

-Complete a BER form for more serious occurrences.

-Email a brief account of the incident to your principal. Cc Jodi Pham, Shereen Wilkerson and Tammy  Parker. Keep documentation.

-Request an IEP.

-Request replacement of any personal item(s) damaged through Kari Sousa in Business Services and complete a request for reimbursement form if approved.


6) – Treasurers report – After reviewing the specifics, the report was approved.


          – Committee reports –


Action – Corey reported on the following:


A VTA resolution supporting our Garfield High School’s teachers – was approved unanimously.  This resolution will be distributed via a press release and can be read here.


The new – was unveiled and some questions were answered


Chamber Mixer – will happen this Thursday.


NCUEA – despite an error in the cost from the Chair, our introductory membership was approved.


Bargaining Brenda reported that bargaining is continuing to meet determine what articles they’ll recommend to E-board for sunshining.  Once E-board has approved/revised the recommendations, we’ll give official notification at the next school board meeting and rep council meeting.


The final version of the 12-13 contract is now available here.


Grievance –Sylvia reported on the following:


Class transfers– the official board language (which can be found here) was reviewed and a proposed revision (which can be found here) was amended.


MOTION – direct Sylvia to pursue a revision of AR 6152, as amended – seconded and approved.


Non-reelects – three unit members will not be re-elected.


Human rights –Alyson reported on the following:


Professional Development – will be offered on Bullying Interventions on February 7th.  A workshop focusing on GLBT issues will be offered March 21st as well and site reps are urged to be sure to promote these workshops with membership.


Equity and Human rights conference – is coming, please click here for more information.


Women’s Issues – none


VTA-PAC – our next mixer is happening right after the rep council meeting.


Special ed – none


Leave bank – none


– Conference reports – Brenda summarized the content of the Issues conference.


          – Others


Issues with unit members leaving early on when going on recess – was discussed. Moira will address this with John Niederkorn tomorrow and report back on the conversation at the next rep council meeting.


J&S performing arts center – needs to be promoted.


Raffle – Mark Richardson won a ten dollar subway card, and Cathy Valdez won a ten dollar starbucks card.


– Adjournment – the meeting was adjourned at 5:20 pm


Respectfully submitted, Corey Penrose




Governor’s Proposed State Budget 2013-14



Governor Brown today released his proposed 2013-14 state budget. The proposal includes additional resources for public schools and colleges as approved by voters last year in the passage of Prop 30. According to the budget proposal, funding for K-12 schools and community colleges increases by $2.7 billion next year, while UC and CSU each see an increase of $250 million in funding. The governor is also proposing to change the state’s funding formula for K-12 schools. The Local Control Funding Formula moves toward a system that provides a base grant to all districts tied to average daily attendance and then adjusts allocations to account for differential expenses between grades. The proposed formula also provides additional money for English learners, low-income students and foster kids. This plan is just a proposal, and the new funding system contains many unknowns-at this time. CTA legislative and bargaining specialists are reviewing and analyzing the budget details.

Talking Points:

As a new report by Education Week shows that California now ranks 49th in per-student funding, it’s good to see a state budget proposal that begins to turn the tide. California educators are pleased that Governor Brown’s proposed state budget reflects the will of voters and includes additional funding for students, public schools and colleges as approved in Proposition 30 last year.

• After years of drastic cuts, it is necessary for the future of our children and the future of California that money owed to students and public education begin to be repaid. Funding for California schools and colleges has been cut by more than $20 billion over the last four years. It’s time our students had a chance to focus on learning instead of facing threats of larger class sizes, fewer classes to choose from, higher tuition and fewer teachers in the classroom.

• CTA is interested to hear more about the proposed new funding formula for K-12 schools and will review all details as they become available. We appreciate the focus on local schools and allocating additional resources to students who need extra help. CTA recognizes there are many unknowns in this proposal.

– CTA is concerned about the overall structure of the new K-12 funding system, the quality of the data and timing of implementation. We are concerned about moving forward with a new funding system before schools have received the money they are owed from years of cuts.

-CTA wants to ensure the state has adequate resources to reduce class sizes and implement the Common Core State Standards. We commend the governor for including the state’s Class Size Reduction program for K-3 in the new funding formula, but the 24:1 ratio is higher than in current law.

-CTA also wants to ensure that the new funding system includes accountability for how dollars are spent. If the state removes the policy requirements that have been the historical basis for program-based funding in the current system, the state must look toward developing strong penalties for those districts that fail to provide basic services to all students.

-The plan must include some type of audit requirement to ensure that the data used in the new formula is accurate and calculated equally in all schools. Currently, districts may use their own method for identifying English learners and reporting students eligible for free and reduced lunch. To ensure equality, the state must arrive at definitions of poverty indexes and student classifications.

• Because all research shows that students learn best with a teacher working directly with them in a classroom setting, CTA also wants to learn more about the governor’s proposal to expand online learning programs to K-12 schools and colleges.

Overall, thanks to the voters of California and Governor Brown, this proposed budget is a good first step toward restoring much-needed funding to our public schools and colleges. We look forward to working with the governor and all lawmakers on behalf of California’s students and educators throughout the year.


Key Points about Health Reform

(Based on a 1.5 hour training with CTA. I will be getting more training, but here is the ESSENTIAL information right now)

-There is a mathematical definition for what is AFFORDABLE: Employers are only obligated to offer an AFFORDABLE plan for its employees, not for families. Dependents will be able to get affordable coverage through the exchange.

-An Affordable Employer Package is one that costs less than or equal to 9.5% of your wage. Since all VTA members who choose health coverage are covered fully, our district offers affordable care for us.

-This may not be the case for classified. Because classified employees pay 20% of their own health care costs and typically they are lower wage earners, the District may not be offering them “affordable” health care.

-If the District does not offer EVERY employee “affordable” care, then the DISTRICT could incur penalties: $3000 per employee that gets health care through the exchange AND receives a federal subsidy (help with paying their health care costs). If you don’t qualify for a subsidy and decide to get health coverage for yourself under the exchange, the District would not incur a penalty for you.

-To be eligible for a FEDERAL SUBSIDY in the Health Exchange, you must have household income less than 400% of the FEDERAL POVERTY LINE. Most of our members will probably not fit into this category, but some might. If a fairly new teacher with dependents is the only wage earner for his/her household, then his/her family may be eligible for subsidies.

-The Health Exchange should be up and running by October with coverage beginning January 1, 2014.

-Our CalPERS plans (Kaiser and Blue Shield) are really low-copay plans. I went looking on the Kaiser and Blue Shield Websites and couldn’t find copays as low as ours. They also offer plans with deductibles. It is almost like they have set up “mini-exchanges” of plans to get ready for the CA Health Exchange (bronze, silver, gold and platinum choices).

-YOU DON’T HAVE TO WAIT FOR THE EXCHANGE TO DO SOME SHOPPING AROUND! My spouse Ron rarely goes to the doctor and doesn’t have any prescriptions. We are currently shopping Kaiser for a plan with larger copays. This may save us money until we can shop in the Health Exchange this fall.

-I CAN DROP MY SPOUSE FROM MEDICAL COVERAGE and HE WILL STILL BE COVERED UNDER DENTAL AND VISION!!!! This is true for any and all dependents and those who choose in lieu instead of medical coverage. Every member and dependent gets dental and vision covered by the District (all that money comes out of our $4.25 million cap).

-Brenda Hensley

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