You are on page 1of 8


on educators
focus on educators is an award winning publication of the Pittsburg Education Association/CTA/NEA

California Teachers Association

Statement of Mission
The California Teachers Association exists to protect and promote the well-being of its members; to improve the conditions of teaching and learning; to advance the cause of free, universal, and quality public education; to ensure that the human dignity and civil rights of all children and youth are protected; and to secure a more just, equitable, and democratic society.

students who we educate. There are several key focus areas. The first is around Quality Public Education and Our Profession. CTA has an ambitious goal of changing the education reform narrative so we advocate for educational reform policies that we know work (i.e., lower class sizes, targeted professional development, quality Volume XXII, Number 8 leadership, etc.). Luckily, we dont have a lot of privateers looking to In this Issue draw funds from our public schools in - Day of the Teacher Information Pittsburg to for-profit charters or independent schools, like they do in - W.H.O. Award Winner areas like Oakland and L.A. Even so, - Bargaining Update its important we stay united in our - CTA/NEA News advocacy for quality public schools for all of our children. Additionally, Presidents Message we must ensure that we increase the capacity of educators in our local so Dear Colleagues, that we have a stronger voice in I think its safe to say, We are all implementing the best teaching ready for Spring Break! methodologies, curriculum and evaluation systems. Ive been visiting teachers at various sites and nearly everyone is ready for Another focus area is around Building a little R & R. Before you leave for a Strong Union. Many members only your much deserved break, Id like to call on our association when they need leave you with something to think assistance. CTA & PEA want to shift about. from a service union to a

APRIL 2014

rather than only during bargaining or during a crisis. PEA leaders will listen to you and get your input so we can act in a way that supports your goals and your issues. We believe we have common values that should keep us connected. Are you willing to be more active and involved? Will you help transform our profession and our schools? Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Region I Organizing Academy with several PEA leaders in order to develop a plan for involving our members more effectively. We analyzed the CTA Strategic Plan and developed ideas that we think will make our local stronger by engaging more of our members more often. If youre thinking I just dont have time for one more thing, at least stay informed, provide feedback when requested, and remember we as professional educators are the voice for ours students and schools. If we dont stand up for our public schools, who will? Have a wonderful spring break!

Our state association, CTA, has been working diligently on a Strategic Plan that addresses goals that are important to our members and to the

In unity, professional union. We want to build an organizing culture where Dawn Cova our members are engaged and involved in an on-going manner,

PEA Leadership 2013-2014

President Dawn Cova Rancho Medanos/PEA Office Elementary Vice President Tammy Carr Highlands Elementary Secondary Vice President Shelly Bascomb Rancho Medanos Secretary Chris Coan Willow Cove Elementary Treasurer Gale Higgins Stoneman Elementary Committee Chairs: Grievance Committee Chris Coan - Willow Cove John Kleinjans Pittsburg High Negotiations Team Mark Maselli - Chair Political Action Committee Iris Contreras - Chair Elections Chair Ruth Foster Human Rights Committee Tasharie Ameral Womens Issues Committee Allison Azevedo - Chair O-Team Chair Shelly Bascomb CTA State Council Representative Iris Contreras PEA Alternate vacant CTA Director District C Terri Jackson NEA Director for California, District 3 Greg Bonaccorsi Technical Editor Susan Harrison PEA Site Secretary

Rep. Council Meeting Calendar

April 16 May 21 June 4 ************************************

School Board Meeting Calendar

April 16 May 7 May 21 June 4 June 25 ************************************

Are you getting your PEA information?

Having our Site Reps collect your input, attend the monthly Rep meeting and then report back to you is vital in the communication chain of our Association. Roll call at March 19th Rep Council Meeting: Foothill present Heights present Highlands present Los Medanos present Marina Vista present Parkside present Stoneman present Willow Cove absent MLK Jr. absent Hillview - present Rancho Medanos present PHS - present Black Diamond present Adult Ed. absent


UPCOMING 2013-2014 CTA CONFERENCES/EVENTS ALCOSTA Lobby Day April 22, 2014 Sacramento WHO Awards Luncheon April 26, 2014 11:30 a.m. 1:30 p.m. Scotts Restaurant Jack London Square, Oakland
Teachers need to feel they are trusted. They must be allowed some leeway to use their imagination; otherwise, teaching loses all sense of wonder and excitement. -Alan Bennett

Focus on Educators is a publication of the Pittsburg Education Association CTA/NEA 159 East 4th Street Pittsburg, CA 94565 Phone: (925) 432-0199 fax: (925) 432-4854 email: website:

Congratulations to Tammy Carr!

Tammy Carr (VP Elementary, Highlands) was selected as PEAs WHO (We Honor Ours) Awardee! She will be celebrated along with other Awardees from Alameda & Contra Costa County at Scotts Seafood in Oakland on April 26th. See the May Focus for pictures!

PEA invites you to join us in celebration of

Day of the Teacher

Date: W ednesday, M ay 14 t h Time: 3:30-5:30 Place: La Piata, 95 Bliss Ave., Pittsburg What: D inner, a drink, and m errim ent w ith fellow educators! We hope to see you there! Please RSVP to Susan@ or 432-0199 by May 9th ************************************

Californias Day of the Teacher

This May educators around the state will mark the 32nd anniversary of Californias Day of the Teacher. To honor them and to demonstrate their impact, we have chosen California Teachers: Inspiring our students, strengthening our communities as this years theme. Its a great opportunity for CTA chapters to reach out to local organizations and businesses to strengthen that connection with our communities. We all know our communities share our goals for quality public schools and recognize public education as being the cornerstone for strong communities. But its also up to us to build those vital relationships with parents, community organizations, local businesses, other unions, the faith community and seniors. We are all part of that community and we will best succeed when we work together. Californias Day of the Teacher has its roots in the community and is patterned after the celebration of the traditional El Dia del Maestro, which is observed in Mexico and Latin America countries. Our Californias Day of the Teacher arose out of legislation co-sponsored by CTA and the Association of Mexican American Educators in 1982. (from 14th,

Elementary Class Size Reduction Meeting

On Wednesday, April 9, many teachers came to the PEA office to share their ideas about reducing class sizes. There is plentiful research about the importance of smaller class sizes and this is a priority for the association. The executive board and bargaining team are looking at the best possibilities for working with the district to create smaller class sizes for all! Thank you for taking the time to share your input.

Common Core State Standards Collaboration Time

Hopefully you all have been using your collaboration time as outlined in the MOU between PUSD & PEA. Elementary unit members have 13 hours 40 minutes and secondary unit members have 14 hours 50 minutes of per diem to use before June 30th. You have 2 days per diem next year as well. This time is teacher-directed collaboration. Principals can offer suggested topics, but ultimately it should be decided by teachers as you know what you need to prepare for implementation. Several principals have approved conferences and trainings as part of the MOU, but it is at their discretion because most occur off-site. Be sure to submit your time sheets and templates in order to get paid.

The Farm Workers Prayer

By Cesar E. Chavez Show me the suffering of the most miserable; So I will know my peoples plight. Free me to pray for others; For you are present in every person. Help me to take responsibility for my own life; So that I can feel free at last. Grant me courage to serve others; For in service there is true life. Give me honesty and patience; So that I can work with other workers. Bring forth song and celebration; So that the Spirit will be alive among us. Let the Spirit flourish and grow; So that we will never tire of the struggle. Let us remember those who have died for justice; For they have given us life. Help us love even those who hate us; So we can change the world.

CTA Region I Organizing Academy
A group of association leaders spent the weekend at the San Jose Marriott April 4-6 working on an organizing plan that would move our association from a service-centered union toward an active, social-justice union. We want our members to be involved in solving problems related to issues in our profession on an on-going basis. The only way we can strengthen our profession is to be active participants in policy-making and problem solving.

Pictured (L to R): Mark Maselli (Hillview JHS), Tammy Carr (Highlands), Danielle Jensen (Marina Vista), CTA President Dean Vogel, PEA President Dawn Cova (Rancho Medanos JHS), Shelly Bascomb (Rancho Medanos JHS)


Professional Development
If youve never had a chance to hear Dr. Marcia Tate discuss brain-compatible instruction, CTA has made her presentation from Summer Institute available on-line. She has wonderful ideas for engaging students and highlights many strategies from her book Worksheets Dont Grow Dendrites. The video is available under the Common Core Learning Labs at

CTA Legislative Update


CTA and EdVoice are supporting new legislation by Assembly Education Chair Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo) that is designed to ensure student safety while protecting the due-process rights of educators.

Raise Your Hand for Learning Over Testing! April 2 was a Day of Action, but its not too late to participate!
Beginning April 2, educators, parents and community leaders across the country are raising their hands for students and great public schools. Some will participate in live events across the country while others will participate online. How to participate: Using the hashtag #RYH4Ed, take at least one of the actions below, post about it on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, everywhere and ask your networks to support public education by taking the same action. 1. Post photos from events you attend in person using #RYH4Ed so we can ReTweet them or share on Facebook. 2. Share your story about how your students will benefit if you had more time-to-teach and freedom to teach2learn, not 2test. Use #RYH4Ed so we can see and share. 3. Visit this NEA online Legislative Action Center page and send an email to your member of Congress asking them to reduce the federal role in testing. Share the following link when youre done, asking your friends to do the same:

The introduction of AB 215 follows three years of efforts to streamline the certificated employee discipline and dismissal process to help protect students. The bill specifically speeds up the dismissal and suspension process for certificated employees and reduces its complexity, while keeping the rights of students and educators in balance. The bill balances a fair appeal process for any permanent employee requesting a hearing with the mandate to keep all students and staff safe and ensure every public school classroom is a productive learning environment, said EdVoice President Bill Lucia. EdVoice is pleased to support and join the hard work of the CTA in arriving at these needed and significant improvements to current law. AB 215 expedites the current dismissal process to keep students safe, while also safeguarding the integrity of the profession and protecting the rights of educators, said CTA President Dean E. Vogel. This bill addresses the concerns expressed by parents, education stakeholders and lawmakers over the past few years. CTA is pleased to join EdVoice and Assembly Member Buchanan in demonstrating our shared commitment to this legislation. The measure is expected to gain its first hearing in the Senate Education Committee.
(from ************************************

We are not just teachers, we are the managers of the worlds greatest resource: children! -Robert John Meehan 5

Are you an ethnic minority member of CTA? Are you interested in broadening your knowledge of the association and exploring the possibility of a role in leadership?


Please email: if you are interested or would like to recommend a potential leader for this wonderful program. The deadline for applying is May 2nd, so please respond by April 29th!

Ethnic Minority Early Identification & Development Program

Currently, CTA faces challenges that threaten the very existence of public education as well as CTAs ability to function as a guardian of that institution, our students and members. Today we face unrelenting attacks that fragment the publics support for our schools and divide educational employees support for CTAs efforts to come to the aid of public education. In many local chapters of the CTA there exists a significant lack of diversity within the leadership roles. Although it is recognized that CTA staff, chapter and state leaders have often encouraged and nurtured minority leaders into leadership roles, the CTA Board of Directors has determined that a more systematic approach needed to be instituted. This program was established in order to sustain and increase ethnic minority leadership in CTA and its affiliates. During the last decade, we have been witness to a steady increase in the number of our ethnic minority members, which reflects Californias changing demographics. Caucasian women have been particularly successful in transitioning to leadership or staff roles, but it appears to take ethnic minority women longer. Ethnic minority men appear to have similar struggles entering either role, and are diminishing in numbers in our classrooms as well. CTA has had a long-standing commitment to increasing ethnic minority leadership and staff. This program is both evidence of that commitment and reinforcement to continue it in the future.


30 Ways to Celebrate Poetry during National Poetry Month

Put poetry in an unexpected place Read a book of poetry Attend a poetry reading Celebrate Poem in Your Pocket Day Visit A Poem A Day For American High Schools:

Read other ideas:

Tips for Teachers

1. Begin each class with a poem by a different poet.! 2. Challenge students to memorize poems and then write them out or recite them from memory.! 3. Read poems aloud to your students.! 4. Ask each student to create his or her own anthology of favorite poems.! 5. Organize a poetry contest for teachers and administrators and select students to act as judges.! 6. Introduce a new poetic form each week and give examples of poems that use -- or reinvent -- the form.

Program Design
The Ethnic Minority Early Identification and Development Program has been created to identify ethnic minority members who are interested in expanding their roles in the organization. Once identified and accepted in the program, participants are paired with a coach who assists them in defining goals and identifying appropriate steps to achieve those goals. The program builds on existing CTA/NEA programs, trainings, conferences, events as well as incorporates interaction and coaching with Local Chapter, CTA, and NEA leadership and CTA Staff.

from: More Classroom resources:

Grievance Update
There was a Level I Grievance filed on behalf of Resource Specialists who serve students with IEPs as well as general ed students. The contract limits their caseload to 28; however, the district was not counting general ed students as part of their caseload. The association argued that the contract language was written at a time when Resource Specialists were not supporting general ed students and therefore the district was violating the intent of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). Furthermore, Ed Code states Resource Specialists shall not be teaching regular classes while providing services to students with disabilities. We were able to come to an agreement for two of the teachers; however there is one teacher who is still affected. The executive board is reviewing the issue with our CTA primary contact staff and will decide whether to pursue further redress. Additionally the district has acknowledged they are willing to work with the Education Specialists / Special Ed Teachers and the association to plan for next year. An additional Level I Grievance was filed at PHS due to grossly unbalanced class sizes within the math department. Some teachers have 35+ students while others have 25. The association requested that the classes be balanced per the CBA. The teachers were willing to work with administration to balance the classes. There was no change at the end of the 10 days; therefore the grievance was moved to Level II. ************************************


Bargaining Update
We had our first bargaining session with the district on Monday, April 7th. The district bargaining team only brought one of their 13 Articles to the table. They proposed that we eliminate Article 17 regarding Childrens Center since it no longer exists. PEA put forth three proposals. First, we proposed changes to staff meeting language, shortening the amount of time principals can hold teachers after the contractual day, and getting back some of those adjusted days for teacher-driven collaboration. The district team has not yet responded to this article. We also proposed changing leave language to allow more days for paternity leave and adoption leave. The district countered with something close and we will continue to work toward an agreement at our next session. Additionally, PEA proposed changes to safety language that would force the district to take action on correcting dangerous situations at sites in a timely manner. The district was receptive to the idea and is willing to work on improving this language. The district was also open to looking into streamlining the procedure for providing teachers the information on students with violent histories. We feel there are possible resolutions to these articles in the near future. Neither the district nor PEA put forth any monetary proposals at the first session. We will be looking at the May revise from the governor that will give us a better idea of the financial situation within the state and district. Our next bargaining session will be April 15th and we have numerous bargaining dates set with the district for the beginning of May so be sure to keep your eyes out for more updates! Respectfully submitted, Mark Maselli Bargaining Chair 7

Political Action Update

CTAs State Council voted to support Superintendent Tom Torlakson in his reelection bid for Superintendent of Public Instruction. One of his competitors favors privatization of schools and elimination of teachers due process rights. Its imperative that we vote for Tom Torlakson in the June 3 Primary! Tell your family and friends. Superintendent Torlakson is a passionate educator and leader who shares our values and passion as we educate Californias students. He has always been a strong advocate for increasing state resources in support of K-14 education and has been a sponsor and supporter for reforms that work, like the Quality Education Investment Act. We look forward to continue working with the Superintendent as our schools begin to heal after years of devastating cuts, said CTA President Dean E. Vogel. (for more info go to:

APRIL 2014
2 PEA Executive Board PEA Office 159 East 4th St. 3:45 PM 13 Palm Sunday 14 Passover Begins at Sundown 16 PEA Rep Council PEA Office 159 East 4th St. 3:45 PM 16 PUSD School Board Meeting 2000 Railroad Ave. 7:30 PM 18 No School/Good Friday 20 Easter 21-25 Spring Recess 22 Earth Day 23 Administrative Professionals Day

MAY 2014
5-21 7 7 11 14 21 21 26 PEA Executive Board/State Council Elections PEA Executive Board PEA Office 159 East 4th St. 3:45 PM PUSD School Board Meeting 2000 Railroad Ave. 7:30 PM Mothers Day Day of the Teacher La Piata, 95 Bliss Ave., Pittsburg PEA Rep Council PEA Office 159 East 4th St. 3:45 PM PUSD School Board Meeting 2000 Railroad Ave. 7:30 PM Memorial Day (Holiday No school)
Next Deadline for Articles is Monday, May12, 2014