California Educator

August/September 2020

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S W E E T WAT E R : Agreement protects student programs A F T E R N E A R L Y two dozen bargaining sessions and a year of negotiations, the Sweetwater Education Association has reached a tentative agreement with the Sweetwater Union High School District. The agreement protects students' access to vital programs by returning librarians to their sites part-time and reinstating three of the district's learning centers. According to SEA President Julie Walker, the agreement was made possible because of the open dialogue between SEA and SUHSD leadership. "I'm pleased our teams found a path to collaboration and compromise," she says. "We'll need that spirit of compromise to face future challenges." By turning the focus toward a student-centered approach, the long- standing impasse was resolved. The tentative agreement, which reduces the work year by three days, will be cost-neutral and will allow valuable programs to continue. S A C R A M E N T O : Flexibility key to navigating current environment Sacramento City Teachers Association reached an agreement with school district administration in July that postponed the scheduled early August opening of one of the district's dependent charter schools. School staff and parents organized to delay the start, and district officials listened, pushing back the opening by a month at New Joseph Bonnheim Community Charter School. SCTA continued discussions about COVID-related issues, reopening, and working constructively with district officials to implement robust distance learning for all Sacramento City students. L O S A N G E L E S : UTLA educators win fight for safety United Teachers Los Angeles organized and won for the safe and healthy schools that LA students deserve. With COVID-19 cases increasing rapidly in Los Angeles County, UTLA members stood together and convinced the district to start the school year fully in distance learning. A few weeks later, LAUSD agreed to drop its proposal to require educators to teach virtually from their physical classrooms — after UTLA flatly rejected it as unsafe. Some key highlights of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between UTLA and LAUSD: daily live interaction; an average school day from 9 a.m. to 2:15 p.m.; targeted small group instruction, as well as time to focus on social-emotional needs of students; opportunities for ongoing proj- ects, small group work and independent work; office hours where students and families can connect with teachers; and a flexible work schedule for non-classroom educators and early childhood educators to meet the needs of students. A full list is available at " This agreement will be brought to life by educators, students and par- ents. This MOU is not an end point — it's a beginning," says UTLA President Cecily Myart-Cruz. "We must invest more resources to create healthy and safe schools and to build on this MOU with responsiveness to feedback from educators, parents, and students." UTLA inspired all with their unity in advocacy. M I L L VA L L E Y: Pushing back to protect teachers and students Mill Valley Teachers Association continues to negotiate details about the start of the new school year at press time. They held a social distancing rally in late July to stand in unity for their students. MV TA is advocating for strong safety guide- lines, a student-centered distance learning plan that reflects best educational practices and recommendations from teacher working groups, and synchronous and asyn- chronous activities each day to support student learning. Educators pushed back on the amount of screen time proposed by school district officials (over five hours a day), noting that it is not developmentally appropriate for the K-8 student population. Fighting for what's right. 47 A U G U S T / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 2 0

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