California Educator

October 2015

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Page 8 of 63

T H E R E I S A W E L L- K N O W N saying that you can't choose your family, but our story on members' actions during the horrendous Valley Fire in southern Lake County last month (page 56) proves it wrong. When Middletown Teachers Association President Dan Renninger was evacu- ated from his home, he sent his wife to safety and chose to stay more than a week at the evacuation center to help his chapter members. "I'm close to all our teachers," he explained. "Many of them helped me and my family over the years, so I wanted to be there for them." Out of 77 members, 32 lost their homes. Konocti Educators Association President Nicole Sabatier said she "couldn't be more proud" of CTA in how it took care of its members during the fire, from expedited processing of CTA Disaster Relief Fund grants, to members offering up their homes, extra bedrooms and living room couches to displaced colleagues. The fire and many similar disasters brought forth myriad selfless and heroic acts, and great generosity of spirit. It also made clear that CTA is a family — one that you choose, one that has your back when you need it. Our cover story this month (page 26) looks at students and educators in the small agricultural towns hit hardest by California's drought — a grim reality unknown to most of us. Lack of water makes a difficult life that much harder: Families lose their livelihoods; children lose amenities such as home showers, green playing fields at school, and much more; schools lose enrollment; and com- munities lose residents. As one teacher put it, "We are all praying for El Niño." We also feature some unusual classes that educators teach (page 22), including digital literacy in elementary school, street law for high school seniors, and surfing in Orange County (of course!). On page 31, we zero in on middle school dropouts and what's being done to keep kids at this critical age in school. Our story on how a landmark California desegregation case inspired a new book by LA high school students (page 49) is eye-opening, both for its histori- cal revelations (many scholars believe the case set the stage for Brown v. Board of Education) and for a lesson on teaching complex topics in collaborative and innovative ways. You'll want to review our tips for fruitful parent-teacher relations (page 59), especially concerning parent-teacher conferences. One tip is to be ready to discuss the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress test scores; see suggested talking points on page 41. And don't miss our wrap-up of the Instructional Leadership Corps' (ILC) recent activities (page 54). Besides building a network of "teachers teaching teachers," ILC is fostering communication and strong connections — a must for any family. Katharine Fong E D I T O R I N C H I E F This family has your back Editor's Note CTA strong. Photo by Scott Iskowitz 7 V O LU M E 2 0 I S S U E 3 You could save on health coverage CalPERS members during open enrollment ©2015 United HealthCare Services, Inc. Health Plan coverage provided by or through UnitedHealthcare of California. Insurance coverage provided by or through UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company or its affiliates. UHCCA745923-001 /CalPERS Learn more at You could save on health coverage CalPERS members during open enrollment ©2015 United HealthCare Services, Inc. Health Plan coverage /CalPERS Learn more at

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