Attack On Teachers’ Professional Rights

CTA State Council Condemns Vergara Lawsuit

LOS ANGELES – In a unanimous vote today, delegates of the CTA State Council of Education denounced the Vergara v. State of California lawsuit attacking educators’ professional and due process rights that’s being bankrolled by millionaires and corporate special interests.

Strongly reiterating CTA concerns with the “deceptive” lawsuit filed by Students Matter, a group headed by Silicon Valley millionaire David Welch, Council delegates adopted a resolution saying California’s teachers “stand for students, educators and local public schools and denounce the meritless claims, fallacies and fabrications of the Vergara lawsuit and its deceptive goals.”

“The Vergara lawsuit puts the professional rights of teachers on trial, which does nothing to help students,” said CTA President Dean E. Vogel. “CTA will continue to fight to ensure we have qualified and experienced teachers in our classrooms whose rights are respected, and not subject to arbitrary and capricious behavior or favoritism.”

The misguided lawsuit seeks to strike down state laws about public school educators’ due process rights for dismissals, dismantle the state layoff statutes and tie teacher evaluations to standardized student test scores. The CTA resolution says the lawsuit blames teachers for shortcomings in education while ignoring the impacts of “external factors like poverty, underfunding, lack of access to adequate healthcare and early childhood education” and how they have a “greater impact than any one teacher can overcome.”

The lawsuit trial begins Monday, Jan. 27, in Los Angeles Superior Court. CTA and the California Federation of Teachers have intervened in the case to help the state.

The Council’s nearly 800 democratically elected teacher delegates from around the state comprise the union’s top governing body and represent the 325,000 members of the California Teachers Association. Revealing CTA background on the lawsuit is online here. This is the full text of the Vergara lawsuit resolution adopted today:

CTA Resolution Supporting Educators and Students Against the Corporate Special Interest Lawsuit: Vergara v. State of California

PREFACE: With their ideas rejected by voters at the ballot box and by lawmakers, millionaires and corporate special interests have now filed a lawsuit to push their misguided agenda on our local public schools and attack educators and their professional rights. The corporate education reformers are attempting to use the courts to strike down due process, dismantle the state layoff statutes and tie teacher evaluations to standardized student test scores. But circumventing the legislative process to strip educators of their professional rights does not improve learning and hurts students. This lawsuit wastes taxpayer money, highlights the wrong problems, proposes the wrong solutions, and is deliberately designed to keep parents and educators out of education policy decisions.

WHEREAS, the Vergara v. State of California lawsuit, like other corporate education “reform” efforts, is backed by another Silicon Valley multi-millionaire, David Welch, who started the group Students Matter that’s behind the litigation; and

WHEREAS, the lawsuit is based on the false premise that state statutes that help to attract and retain quality teachers by providing professional rights are failing public education, when research confirms that most public schools are a success and student learning is improving in California; and

WHEREAS, this meritless lawsuit ignores the biggest challenges facing public education, including a severe lack of funding, inadequate resources, overcrowded classrooms, economic inequality, and student poverty; for the 2011-12 school year, nearly 56 percent of California’s 6.2 million K-12 students were considered low-income and qualified for free or reduced-price school meals; and while the passage of Proposition 30 is slowly repaying years of budget cuts, California still spends $3,500 per student less than the national average; and

WHEREAS, this lawsuit and trial are a waste of valuable taxpayer money that would much better be spent actually investing in our students, schools and educators; and

WHEREAS, contrary to what the lawsuit claims, not one teacher in California has a job for life, and teachers can be dismissed during the first two years of employment for no reason at all; students need a stable, experienced and high-quality teaching workforce; current laws ensure experienced teachers have a right to a hearing and are not dismissed for arbitrary or unfair reasons; and

WHEREAS, eliminating the professional rights of educators will actually make it harder to attract and retain high-quality teachers into our classrooms at a time when nearly 50 percent of teachers in urban and high-poverty schools leave the profession within the first five years; and

WHEREAS, this lawsuit ignores all research that shows teaching experience does matter and contributes to student learning; studies show that teacher experience enhances teacher effectiveness and increases student productivity in all grades in reading and math; and

WHEREAS, in the court of public opinion the verdict on testing is already in – parents know their child is more than a standardized test score and therefore that a single test score can’t determine teacher effectiveness; and

WHEREAS, while the role of the teacher is always an important in-school factor in student learning, external factors like poverty, underfunding, lack of access to adequate healthcare and early childhood education have a greater impact than any one teacher can overcome; and

WHEREAS, the long record of CTA support for students of greatest need includes the CTA-sponsored Quality Education Investment Act, the landmark school turnaround program which commits nearly $3 billion over eight years for proven reforms such as smaller class sizes, better teacher training, more collaboration time and parental involvement and is improving student learning in hundreds of California’s high-poverty schools; and

WHEREAS, this lawsuit tries to legislate from the bench and exclude meaningful input from parents and educators in education decisions, when the only way to have real educational change is to have the voices of all stakeholders, including parents, educators, administrators, students and community members, in the discussion; and

WHEREAS, the plaintiffs’ lawyers have tried to frame this lawsuit as a student-driven fight for educational equality, but the backers of this suit who are spending thousands of dollars on high-paid media consultants are a “who’s who” of the billionaire boys club whose real agenda is to privatize public schools and attack educators and their unions – the very people in California who have led the fight for free public schools, educational equality, equity and social justice for 150 years; and

WHEREAS, the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers have intervened in the lawsuit filed against the state to defend our students and the education profession;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the California Teachers Association State Council of Education delegates, on behalf of all 325,000 members of CTA, stand for students, educators and local public schools and denounce the meritless claims, fallacies and fabrications of the Vergara lawsuit and its deceptive goals;

THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that CTA will continue to fight this meritless lawsuit, will continue to support having highly qualified and effective teachers in every classroom whose rights are respected and protected as set forth by law and the Constitution of the State of California, and will continue to work with parents, educators, administrators and community members to provide quality public schools to all students of California.

Rep Council Agenda for January 28th

Rep Council Agenda Jan. 28

Health care and technology updates from Moira!

**Our Health Care Committee is up and running! Thanks to Alyson Brauning who will chair the committee, and Brenda Hensley, Kent Puddy, Scott Bassett, Nancy Anderson-Louie, Lisa Aspey and Stacie Smith who have signed up to take on this job. The role of the committee will be to research alternative options and gather data that will help us make informed decisions about how we provide health care benefits to our members. The committee will report to the Exec Board, Rep Council, and membership, and solicit input from members to inform the bargaining process.

**There is a School Board workshop January 23rd at 5:30. The purpose of the workshop is to finalize the parameters for the Smarter Balanced (SBAC) testing and for the Board to share its vision for future technology in VUSD. One of the decisions before the School Board is whether to use wired labs with desktop computers or mobile carts with wireless notebooks for the SBAC testing we will be required to do this spring. There was much discussion at the January 9th School Board meeting on which option is best. Below is a link to the January 23rd workshop agenda and to the video of the January 9th Board meeting if you would like to get caught up on the discussion. I strongly encourage members who have an opinion about this topic to share it with Board Members. Their email addresses can be found on the third link.

Vacaville Teachers Association T-Shirt Design Contest – UPDATED!!!!!!

What is it? Design a t-shirt logo for the VTA. The logo will be put on t-shirts or clothing attire which can be purchased by teachers that work in the Vacaville Unified School District.

 Who can participate? Anyone!!

When is the deadline for entering? March 20th 3:00pm     

Prizes: 1st place $100

2nd place $50

3rd place $25

Designs will be judged by VTA site representatives from each school in the district on March 25th at the monthly site rep meeting. After the contest is completed all design submissions will be returned to the students.

Questions: email Director Sylvia Shepard at


Design size : 10 inches wide by 9 inches high

Each design must contain two items:

1 – VTA or Vacaville Teachers Association

2 – the slogan: Proudly educating Vacaville’s future

Designs must be submitted on a paper product so they can be viewed for the contest. They also need to be available to be sent by email to the t-shirt company once the winner is decided upon.

Each design must contain: The name of the artist, the school the artist is from, the grade level and contact information (e.g. phone number and address)

Each design should be sent or delivered to:

Ms Shepard

Browns Valley Elementary

333 Wrentham

Vacaville, CA 95688

 (the school office is open Monday thru Friday 7:00am to 4:00pm)

If you’d like to see our current logo, and get some ideas, go here.

NEA and BetterLesson launch new site with over 3,000 Common Core lessons

New site provides educators with tools to ensure students are college and career ready

WASHINGTON – The National Education Association (NEA) and BetterLesson launch a new web site today, The site, where teachers share what works in the classroom, features more than 3,000 classroom-ready lessons that are easily accessible and can be integrated into any curriculum. This new BetterLesson product was built entirely for the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and features the lessons of 130+ Master Teachers (MTs), who represent every K-12 grade level for math and English Language Arts & Literacy. This is one of several long-term partnerships NEA has pursued to support its members’ professional development and leadership in the teaching practice; members have been recruited around the country to participate and develop comprehensive materials along with these partner organizations.

“The new Common Core State Standards are a transformation for the students in our nation’s public school system and we owe it to them to provide teachers with the time, tools and resources to get it right,” said National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel. “The best ideas for the classroom come from classroom teachers, and our new site will allow educators to share lessons to help ensure all students have the skills they need to succeed.”

“When we teamed up with National Education Association last summer on The Master Teacher Project we knew there would be powerful results,” said BetterLesson’s Alex Grodd, CEO & co-founder. “We are so excited to offer the most comprehensive body of knowledge around Common Core teaching.”

Before the CCSS were introduced, 62 percent of teachers in the U.S. reported feeling unprepared for daily work in the classroom, according to the “Educating School Teachers” report. BetterLesson aims to help those teachers become more prepared by providing 5 to 10 lessons for every single common core standard. By the fall of 2015, BetterLesson will have more than 16,000 Master Teacher lessons live. According to a NEA poll from this past September, more than 75 percent of NEA members supported the standards wholeheartedly or with some reservations. Unfortunately, while two-thirds of members indicated they had participated in trainings around CCSS, just 26 percent said the trainings were helpful.

“The power of educators’ expertise is important and educators are passionate about promoting student success,” said Van Roekel. “Our partnership with BetterLesson allows us to tap into the passion, creativity, and power of those who spend their lives in the nation’s classrooms. Educators will be able to customize the shared lessons to their students’ individual needs and provide high quality instruction for all students, regardless of their zip code.”

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