California Educator

October 2015

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feedback Y O U R O P I N I O N S A N D L E T T E R S A R E W E L C O M E ! There is a 250-word limit, and all letters will be edited. If you send photos or other materials, identifications and permissions are required. Letters must include your name along with your address, daytime telephone number or email address. Email MEMBER ACTIVISM GETS RESULTS On Oct. 1, Governor Brown signed AB 375, a bill sponsored by my chap- ter of CTA. This legislation explicitly prohibits California school districts from deny- ing new parents from using their sick leaves while taking maternity or pater- nity leave they are entitled to under the California Family Rights Act. Some of our chapters have basic fam- ily leave provisions. Now, we all will. Our members are now guaranteed ac- cess to their sick leave and differential pay for the 6-8 weeks of postpartum medical leave, as well as the poorly titled "child bonding" leave, which has always guaranteed job protection and medical benefits, but has never guaranteed pay. This also ensures that we will no longer penalize adoptive families and foster families by denying them access to their sick leave or differential pay when they welcome children into their homes. Again, many of us have some provision for this, but few have 12 weeks guaranteed with access to differential pay. I am extremely proud of this work, and it came directly from me and the strug- gles of my members. I was able to meet and work with my Assembly members and my senators and staff from the gov- ernor's office. It was a wild adventure. I still can't believe it worked out. Jennifer Thomas President, San Jose Teachers Association LOAN FORGIVENESS I can't speak for all educators, but many know of the student loan for- giveness programs. I have Parent Plus loans for my children. I filled out the appropriate documents, and next year (2016) I'll have paid 10 years on the first of the loans. What the student loan servicing officials do not spell out to educators is that the loans must be consolidated first and then the clock commences from that date — which requires another 10 years of paying on time. After a lengthy conversation, the federal loan specialist informed me that by the time I qualify I will have paid off the loan myself. I have been a public servant 31-plus years (22-plus as a teacher) in a low-so- cioeconomic area (Highland Park, Los Angeles — a school that was reconsti- tuted, now a "School to Watch"), and thanks to a shameful, poorly written program, I will not benefit one cent! My children's loans will be paid by me at the current interest rate of 7.99 per- cent. By the way, I easily qualified for the program. But, there's no free money! In my opinion, it's just a shameless scam! Gemma Marquez United Teachers Los Angeles Editor's note: Contrary to the advice given in our September article, a "direct consolidation loan" may be necessary under certain conditions. Always review the requirements and be sure to ask, "If I consolidate, will I still be eligible for a forgiveness program?" Get the answer in writing. See repay-loans/consolidation#should-i. GET YOUR PINK PLATE NOW Remember our story in October 2013 about Deborah Bordeau, Oakley Union Teachers Association and fifth-grade teacher? She and four other breast cancer survivors were working on getting approval for a Breast Cancer Awareness specialized license plate in California. AB 49 was signed into law last year, and now the California Pink Ribbon License Plate is ready for ordering. Proceeds from its sale benefit the Department of Health Care Services' "Every Woman Counts" program, which provides free clinical breast exams and mammograms to California's underserved women. But there's a catch: The Department of Motor Vehicles requires a total of 7,500 pre-orders before they will produce the plate. The program will expire if not enough plates are ordered by August 2016. So show your support and order now. "This plate will be a daily reminder on our roads that early detection saves lives," Bordeau says. "It's also a way to support someone who might be fighting breast cancer or to honor a loved one who lost their battle with the disease. All in all, it's a win-win for our state." #pinkplate 3 V O LU M E 2 0 I S S U E 3

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