California Educator

December 2012

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JUST FOLLOWING UP UNEMPLOYED TEACHERS GET SECOND CHANCE B Y S H E R RY P O S N I C K - G O O D W I N PHOTOS BY SCOTT BUSCHMAN Last month we reported how an idea by Elk Grove Education Association member Alexandra Condon became a state law. The law, SB 1291, which allows laid-off teachers to collect unemployment benefits while retraining for hard-to-fill positions, takes effect Jan. 1, 2013. 1 HOW A MEMBER���S BRIGHT IDEA BECAME A LAW ��� 6 7 Amendment requested by Republicans to maintain an annual report. Bill heard again by Senate Appropriations, sent to the ���oor. wHEN THE gOVERNOR SIgNED SB 12 91, I T w A S C O O L T O K N O w I M A D E A D I F F E R E N C E ,��� S AY S E L K g R O V E E D u C AT I O N A S S O C I AT I O N M E M B E R A L E x A N D R A C O N D O N . ��� I T F E LT P AT R I O T I C . B u T I C O u L D N E V E R H A V E D O N E T H I S w I T H O u T C TA . ��� When CTA-backed SB 1291 takes effect Jan. 1, teachers laid off because of California���s bruising education funding cuts will be able to collect unemployment benefits while retraining to fill other teaching positions in California���s shortage fields, like math and science. In the spring of 2010, Condon was one of hundreds of teachers in Elk Grove Unified to receive a pink slip. While she retained her job, others did not. She saw dedicated teachers lose unemployment benefits when they went to sub or get credentials to stay in the profession. Condon had an idea to help and she knew how to make it happen. THE PROCESS ��� T H E w H O L E P R O C E S S w A S A g R E AT E x A M P L E of democracy and what our union can do. It was exciting to be a part of it,��� Condon says. ���CTA has good working relationships with just above everyone in Sacramento. I didn���t realize how much good work legislative advocates like Patricia Rucker do in the background. It���s 26 28 2 3 Condon submits a New Business Item (NBI) to the State Council of Education. State Council refers the NBI to the Credentials and Professional Development (CPD) Committee. SPRING 2010 Alexandra Condon, Elk Grove, gets a pink slip. Wants to stay in the profession. What to do? APRIL 24, 2012 Hearings in the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee and then in Senate Appropriations. Bill is passed out. 5 Sen. Noreen Evans asks to co-sponsor bill with CTA. CTA Board of Directors approves. 10 8 11 CPD recommends CTA sponsor the legislation. CTA Board of Directors approves. 4 CTA legislative advocate shops the idea around Sacramento; discusses idea with both Houses and the Employment Development Department (EDD). SEPT. 7, 2012 Condon���s idea becomes a law when the governor signs the bill. Law takes effect Jan. 1, 2013! 9 AUG. 20, 2012 Assembly OKs bill 54-23. MAY 29, 2012 Senate OKs bill 25-14. I didn���t realize how much good work CTA legislative advocates do in the background. It���s amazing what they���re able to do to make things happen. Assembly Insurance Committee and Assembly Appropriations review bill. amazing what they���re able to do to make things happen.��� It took over a year for the bill to be introduced by state Sen. Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa). Then legislative hearings started. ���I testified three times, and it was nervewracking! I didn���t want my voice to crack. I wanted to be composed,��� Condon says. By the third hearing she felt more comfortable, so she watched the legislators��� reaction when she described her situation. She told them that one day before her insurance ran out, she was hired back. ���It was fascinating how much legislators work while you talk. They come in and out because they���re working other bills, too. Watching other bills being ���worked��� is something I never experienced before.��� THE OuTCOME ��� I L E A R N E D I H A V E A V O I C E ��� and you can have a voice in our union. We need our union to amplify our voice,��� says Condon. The education funding cuts that have slammed schools also damaged the teacher California Educator November 2012 California Educator December 2012 ��� January 2013 preparation pipeline, leading many wouldbe teachers to pursue other professions. That reality made filling positions in shortage fields such as math, science and special education even more difficult in many places. California will need at least 33,000 additional math and science teachers by the year 2017, according to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, the state���s licensing agency. ���In order for California to remain competitive in meeting the educational needs of the future, the state needs qualified teachers in high-demand subjects,��� says Sen. Evans. Without enough qualified educators in high-demand subjects, ���California���s workforce will not be competitive in math or science nationally and internationally, and that���s not where California needs to be to recover from this recession.��� California has the highest ratio of students per teacher in these tough-to-staff subject areas in the U.S., she notes. SB 1291 helps reduce the need for emergency permits allowing persons who aren���t fully qualified to teach these subjects. Studies find a correlation between higher numbers of emergency permits in a school with reduced levels of student achievement. Condon recently reconnected with Jasmine Aguila, one of the pink-slipped teachers who inspired her to take the new business item to CTA���s State Council. In 2010, Condon taught first grade and Aguila taught kindergarten. Now Condon is an instructional coach and Aguila is a middle school special education teacher. Aguila had to sub and get her special education credential at the same time, and did not collect unemployment benefits. November 2012 27 Kerry Hernandez received a pink slip last year from Ethel Phillips Elementary School in Sacramento, where she had taught for two years. The Sacramento City Teachers Association member didn���t know where to turn. She applied for elementary school teaching positions, but found herself in a long line of pink-slipped teachers. Then she heard about a program that retrains laid-off teachers to teach hard-tostaff math and science classes. She jumped at the opportunity. All who enroll in the Foundational Level Math and Science Credential program (FLMSC) for Sacramento City Unified School District employees are carefully screened to make sure they have an aptitude for teaching math and science. The goal of the program is to put unemployed teachers back to work. The program, a partnership between Sacramento City Unified School District, the Sacramento Employment and Training Agency, and CSU Sacramento���s Colleges of Education, Continuing Education, and Nat-

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