Tag Archives: CUSD

Updated – The Continued fight for Public Education -OC CUSD Teachers Vote to Strike

The Teacher’s issued this statement just about an hour ago which changes the whole situation for CUSD.

Capistrano Teachers Issue Bargaining Proposal Designed to Prevent Strike Challenge Capistrano School Board to back up words with action

ALISO VIEJO – Challenging the Capistrano Unified School District Board of Education to back up vague offers to “entertain discussion” related to bargaining, the 2,200 members of the Capistrano Unified Education Association invite the board back to the bargaining table to negotiate, based upon the following proposals:

  • The board will reverse the permanent nature of salary and benefits cuts they imposed March 31 by making them temporary;
  • There will be no increase in class size;
  • The board will restore salary, unpaid work days, and benefits cuts if unforeseen funds are received;
  • The board will implement already agreed to contract language that deals with working conditions, transfer of teachers, and leaves as stipulated to in the fact finding hearing.
  • “It has never been the goal of Capistrano teachers to strike,” said CUEA President Vicki Soderberg. “We have always been willing to bargain in good faith, and we immediately accepted the neutral fact finder’s settlement recommendation. Although the CUSD school board’s unilateral imposition forced us into voting a strike authorization, we much prefer to settle our differences through bargaining.”

    “In recent media reports and direct communications to teachers, the CUSD Board of Education has implied that they are willing to bargain with the teachers, but the board has yet to make a formal, direct proposal to CUEA. We want our members, our students, the public, and the board to be perfectly clear that we do not want to strike and that we want to reach a negotiated settlement. We challenge the board to live up to their recent statements and accept our proposal for an agreement,” said Soderberg

    Over Thursday and Friday of last week, Capistrano Unified School District teachers took a vote on whether to strike due to the total break down in communications with their Board of Trustees over contract negotiations.

    The vote was pretty overwhelming for the teachers to strike and the continued obfuscation by the BOT astounds me as I read the local papers take on the back and forth.  The Orange County Register is the paper of record for local residents, it’s where we get information and although it’s their job to report, not decide it disheartens me to see the board continue to misrepresent their position and that of the Teacher’s union.

    Follow me…

    According to the OC Register almost 87% of the teachers who voted support a strike.  And still the board insists that the Teacher’s Union has negotiated in bad faith even though they agreed to all the terms of the fact finding group, all of which would be temporary.  

    This is one of the big sticking points for the parents and the teachers, the BOT is asking for those to be permanent even though many of us hope this economic downturn will be temporary in nature.  And another of the issues has to the do with a clause in the contract that would allow the BOT to make further cuts if necessary without having to go back to the negotiating table.

    So this is how the OC Register paints the following scenario by the quotes printed by Lopez-Moddox, one of the Board of Trustees and also a target of a new recall effort led by area parents unhappy with the direction the new board is taking.

    Lopez-Maddox said it would be impractical to “begin an entire year’s worth of negotiations over now” and emphasized that the school board has tried to be responsive to teachers, despite the imposed pay cut.

    Well, obviously this is misleading because they wouldn’t have to start all over, it wouldn’t be a year’s worth of negotiations.  They would be sitting down and starting with the fact finders proposal which the Teacher’s union has already accepted, it solves the fiscal impasse that the district is facing and is the whole point of such a uninvolved party taking place in negotiations.  There would be no reason to start over unless you aren’t willing to talk at all and you would prefer to make it seem like that’s the only solution.

    Just hours before approving the imposition, the school district removed a clause that was generating considerable angst among teachers, Lopez-Maddox noted. The clause stated that Capistrano Unified “reserves the right to implement further reductions, consistent with its pre-impasse offers, should the district’s fiscal outlook deteriorate beyond current budget projections.”

    Just an hour prior to the Board of Trustees meeting during a closed door session.  Just hours before.  Yes, they really are kind of doing things last minute and creating a great deal of chaos in the process for teachers and parents, creating chaos and worry, their own little fiefdom of shock doctrine.

    Also, trustees on Wednesday expressed a willingness to meet with union leaders to discuss whether the pay cut will become temporary – via a non-bargaining route known as a memorandum of understanding – although they said they would not reopen contract negotiations.

    Okay, so how is this being cooperative when everything in this statement says they want to go via a “non-bargaining” route and they “would not reopen contract negotiations”?   If they had merely sat down before they had voted their own contract this wouldn’t be an issue.  And the question is, what’s the point if it’s not even binding?  This is something that I’ve read elsewhere, that this MOU is not binding in cases of salary negotiations.

    “We can never make them happy no matter what we try to do,” Lopez-Maddox said. “Every time the teachers union comes to the board and asks for X, we say OK. Then they say, ‘That’s not good enough. We want you to do Y.’ They have a moving target.”

    Which of course is not true, there is no moving target, the teachers were clear from the start what was at issue with the Board of Trustee’s contract.  They have been the ones to negotiate via the media, piecemeal and only half-heartedly.  This is not how you take contract negotiations seriously.  This is not how you bargain with a group of professionals and expect a positive outcome.

    And the reaction from the board via press release was also rather disappointing as well.


    “We are very disappointed that teachers in our district have authorized their union leaders to call a strike. A teacher walkout will be a political statement by the union that will not change the fiscal reality we face as a school district or the need to move forward with the level of concessions required in the CUEA contract. Individual teachers will be asked to pay the price in lost wages for that union decision. The Board of Education has made it clear that we are ready to meet with CUEA to discuss a memorandum of understanding about the temporary nature of these cuts should our fiscal situation improve. The union has rejected this sincere offer and is demanding that we resume the same unproductive talks that led us to this point. We simply cannot do that.

    It is time to move on for the benefit of our students and our community. Should CUEA notify the district that they will, in fact, strike, we will take appropriate steps to notify our community and continue to move forward with the important job of educating our students.”

    Anna Bryson, President

    CUSD Board of Education

    What unproductive talks, there have been no talks!

    And this is priceless, “Individual teachers will be asked to pay the price in lost wages for that union decision.”  No, teachers voted overwhelmingly to vote for this strike, 1,600 hundred of them did, 87% of those who showed up to vote, voted to strike.  This blatant attempt to make it sound like the Union is forcing all these poor helpless teachers to strike against their will is bunk.

    We understand that the budget process in Sacramento has been to cut K-12 and hold the budget hostage, but that’s not the Teacher’s fault, that’s the fault of our local State legislators who refuse to do anything to protect education funding (Despite laws that are in place to protect K-12).  Orange County Republicans are the legislative minority who signed a no new taxes pledge before the bottom fell out of our economy and had to stick to that while vying to retain their seats or win higher office in 2008.  But here in the OC they don’t really have to do much to win, the overwhelming voter registration is in their favor, they merely have to put their name on the ballot and in the case of a primary challenge, they are anointed post-primary as the winner of the general election before one vote is cast.

    Ultimately the issue comes to this, the Board of Trustees does not understand the bargaining process and does not understand how to run a school district, especially one that is so large.  As I’ve written in another important Diary this has a lot more to do with dismantling public education than it does with bargaining and the improvement of my child’s education.  MY CHILD.

    Education Alliance and Pacific Research Institute are behind this mess and the current Board of Trustees are merely stand ins for the experiment.  Let me share some photos from the Capo Recall 2010 to illustrate my point.

    And I want to leave with this, with a message from the Teacher’s union, who have been ravaged by this board and supported by parents like me.  You can decide for yourself about the tone and the professionalism of each party.  Aliso Viejo is where I bought my home and decided to raise my daughter, it’s where I chose to make my life.

    ALISO VIEJO – “Capistrano teachers have drawn a line to protect our schools and our profession, and sometimes that line is a picket line,” said Capistrano Unified Education Association President Vicki Soderberg, announcing the overwhelming 87 percent thumb’s up from Capistrano Unified School District’s 2,200 teachers in the April 15-16 vote.

    With 85 percent of eligible teachers casting ballots, 1,600 CUEA members voted “yes” and 248 voted “no.” The vote does not compel an immediate strike. Instead, it authorizes CUEA’s Executive Board to initiate one if the CUSD Board of Education refuses to revoke its unilaterally imposed contract of permanent, over-the-top cuts in wages and benefits totaling more than ten percent.

    “A strike has never been what teachers wanted,” said Soderberg, “but this thundering strike authorization vote – with teachers at many school sites voting 100 percent in favor – shows just how fed up we are with this board’s harsh, dictatorial behavior and duplicitous tactics.” The Capistrano board’s permanent cuts go well beyond the mutually-selected neutral fact finder’s reasonable settlement recommendation. They also exceed those in settlements agreed to by teacher groups and school boards throughout Orange County.

    “We are so grateful that Capistrano’s parents and students understand that a short-term disruption of school is worth the fight for long-term stability in the district,” said Soderberg. As reported April 15 on the Capistrano Unified School District’s website, approximately 10,000 students – or about one out of every five – boycotted school attendance on April 13 in a parent-led protest of school board actions. “How can we teach our students to stand up to unfair, bullying behavior, if we’re not willing to walk the walk ourselves? There are life lessons that can’t be taught by a test. It is so heartwarming to know that parents and students understand the school board is forcing this action upon us and them.”

    Not as Good as You Think: The Myth of the Middle Class School

    (An extremely valuable insight into the Republican war on public education – and how the public does not want it. – promoted by Robert Cruickshank)

    Our Public School System is under attack, not just in Florida or San Diego but in Orange County as well.  There are experiments happening all over the US to test exactly what the best means would be to destroy our public schools and right now, the easiest seems to be from the inside out.

    In the Capistrano School District in South Orange County, California, we have a board of Trustees hell bent on not only using the “evil” teacher’s union to paint the schools as ineffective, but to utterly destroy the parent’s faith in the system, driving children from the schools and force a strike.

    The recall that took place in 2008 is documented in a film entitled, Not as Good as You Think: The Myth of the Middle Class School.  And it’s been show to GOP leaders all around the Country, it’s their baby of how they can tear apart a school district and right now, we’re on the edge of them succeeding.

    WASHINGTON – A libertarian think-tank that prominently features the Capistrano Unified School District in a documentary about how the U.S. public school system is broken will screen its 49-minute film this afternoon on Capitol Hill.

    “Not as Good as You Think: The Myth of the Middle Class School” recounts a five-year effort by the CUSD Recall Committee parents group to bring reforms to a school district plagued by scandal, community unrest and allegations of corruption reaching into the highest levels of its administration.

    “We have made a national impact here in Capistrano Unified,” said Recall Committee leader and parent Tony Beall, a Rancho Santa Margarita city councilman. “It’s nice that our efforts are being recognized at the U.S. Capitol.”

    The 2:30 p.m. screening will be hosted by two leading GOP lawmakers – U.S. House Republican Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, and U.S. Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the senior Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee.

    OC Register

    This was late last year in October.  Now it’s April, the end of spring break and the Board of Trustees have been fighting the teachers over their contract because of budget shortfalls.  If you haven’t been paying attention, revenue shortfalls are down everywhere and they have been horrific here in California due to how we pay for education because of Prop 13 (Another diary).  But needless to say, education is suffering a great deal.

    If you go to to the CUSD recall website (These are the bunch who came in to “reform” CUSD), they really don’t hold back their criticism of the teacher’s union, they show their bias and it makes it quite difficult to see how they can negotiate in good faith.

    April 8, 2010 CUSD Reform Trustees Successfully Finalize Union Contract Terms That Protect Class Sizes and Teachers’ Jobs. Reaction of Greedy Union Leaders…STRIKE!

    After being forced to cut $25 million from last year’s budget and faced with cutting $34 million more this year, the CUSD Reform Board has approved new and sustainable union contract terms that will NOT increase class sizes and will protect dozens of teachers’ jobs. Kudos to the Reform Board whose decision changes misplaced priorities of the past and fulfills important reform promises to the voters of CUSD. In response, selfish union leaders are now threatening to strike, and want to lay off hundreds of young teachers and preserve higher salaries/ benefits for their most senior members at the expense of students, young teachers and taxpayers — and they’re using our children as political pawns to win at any cost! A line in the sand has been drawn. Our Reform Board needs your support and our children need protection from this shameful union greed and exploitation.

    This is the rub though, South Orange County is highly Republican, you’d think they would have the parents support if their stance was so reasonable and fiscally responsible.  But every single board meeting has been angry parents who feel that haven’t been heard, a board that continues to have closed door meetings, refuses to meet the teachers half way and have not kept any promises of their recall campaign.

    Chanting “Do the right thing!” while clapping in unison, about 400 educators and their supporters rallied Wednesday at Capistrano Unified School District headquarters to protest a 10.1 percent pay cut that the school board is imposing on all teachers.

    Many held up signs demanding that Capistrano’s school board “respect our teachers” by returning to the negotiating table to try to work out a compromise with the district’s 2,300-member teachers union.

    The board room in San Juan Capistrano was packed to capacity with about 300 teachers and their supporters, while about 100 more demonstrated outside.

    Many Capistrano teachers are in favor of an independent mediator’s recommendation from earlier this month that suggested teachers take a 6.32 percent pay cut and that the district achieve 4 percent more in savings by raising class sizes across all grade levels by two students each.

    “We’re more than willing to accept pay cuts,” said demonstrator Sue Lederman, a special education preschool teacher at San Clemente’s Lobo Elementary School. “The independent fact-finder’s report was equitable, fair and addressed the needs of the moment, plus the opportunity to renegotiate when things get better.”

    Republicans are PISSED OFF.  They are organizing a recall of the recall.

    And the board continues to act without any regard for the parents anger, outrage and the concern for the school because their agenda has nothing to do with what is best for public education, the kids or the teachers, it’s an agenda that is quite clear.

    A great resource for parents is a blog called, Beyond the Blackboard.

    And as we approach the vote to decide to strike the news coming from the board is becoming more and more insulting, from their reaction to High School Student protests…

    Capistrano Unified trustees said Friday they understand and respect the sudden groundswell of student activism at two district high schools in response to recent teacher pay cuts, but stressed that the walkouts cannot continue and disruptions to learning will not be tolerated.

    Reacting to two lively protests in as many days at Aliso Viejo’s Aliso Niguel High School and Dana Point’s Dana Hills High School, school board President Anna Bryson said she supported the students’ free speech rights, but that they needed to follow the law.

    “People have emotions, and those emotions sometimes get expressed when you’re young in ways that aren’t acceptable,” Bryson said Friday. “It doesn’t surprise me. But we don’t want to see our students missing time in class. They’re going to college and they’re going to be tested, and they need that class time.”

    OC Register

    To talk of hiring armed guards for school grounds.  Yes.  And people thought the reaction was “extreme” because this was to protect students from picketing teachers.  They have hired a local contractor for 250 unarmed guards and plan on paying them up to $100,000 (Don’t want to pay teachers, but hey, lets pay thugs to walk the schools!).

    “The fact that they are paying for the security guards makes me so mad because that money could be going toward something else,” said Kathryn Gullickson, 18, a senior at Dana Point’s Dana Hills High School, where students have already staged a protest and walkout over the teacher pay issue. “We’re not in danger. The whole idea of them protecting us from the picketing teachers is far-fetched and ridiculous.”

    ‘Extreme reaction’

    A local sociology professor who was asked to weigh in on Capistrano Unified’s security plan said the preparations sounded unusual and unnecessary.

    “I don’t know what would prompt such an extreme reaction from the school district,” said Judith Stepan-Norris of UC Irvine, an expert on the U.S. labor movement who has no affiliation with Capistrano Unified. “You have teachers you trust your children to everyday. How can you imagine that they would become people you would have to defend from?”

    Bryson said the decision was made by senior district administrators, led by interim Superintendent Bobbi Mahler, based on their research into what other districts have done.

    Bryson declined to elaborate on what specific threat picketing Capistrano teachers might pose, but stressed that if a strike materialized, the situation would be continually re-evaluated.

    OC Register

    This is the extremism that a lot of parents are baffled by and completely enraged by how tone deaf the board seems to be.  Not only are these contractors unnecessary, one of them, ABC, was charged with negligence and parents are concerned about them being around their kids.  

    So, here is the current recall group, Capo Recall 2010 and why something needs to be done.

    Why A Recall?

    Written by Dr. Peter J. Espinosa

    I am pleased to announce that I was one of the individuals that signed the required notice to recall CUSD Trustees Mike Winsten and Ken Lopez-Maddox. My reasons go beyond their failure to petition the State Board of Education for a waiver which could have expedited the change in how trustees from large districts are elected. As a reminder, the change would have involved switching from the outdated, more costly “at large” voting method to the cost saving “vote by trustee area” that holds trustees more accountable to constituents in their particular trustee area. My reason for signing the petition goes deeper than their role in unnecessarily increasing legal and consultation fees during an era of fiscal hardships. My reason for signing the petition is much broader than their rejection of an appropriate elementary school math text recommended by competent, professional math teachers. Instead, both trustees supported the adoption of a text that benefitted a friend, actually, a spouse of one of the other trustees.

    Simply put, I signed the petition because I am strongly opposed to the policy direction of the Education Alliance. It is public knowledge that Trustees Mike Winsten and Ken Lopez-Maddox have significant financial backing of the Education Alliance. This group’s goals are to change the vision and direction of public schools. This group is involved in a local, state and national movement that clearly wants to take the public out of public schools. Their goal is to place the Education Alliance first rather than placing public school children first. The change would reflect a shift in making public schools resemble private schools that are unregulated and religious based with a selective criteria that would benefit some students more than others. For example, highly accountable programs for students with special learning needs and limited English speakers whose first language happens to be Spanish would be negatively impacted. Other examples of their agenda include opposition to state and federal curriculum standards, as well as social health services in schools. They also support vouchers for private schools and the destruction of teacher and classified unions. The Pacific Research Institute supports their effort along with people such as Howard Ahmanson, Frank Ury, Jim Righeimer, Mark Bucher and Craig Alexander. Their ultimate goal is to fund and support candidates for local school boards who are committed to their agenda.

    CUSD has historically been a high performing school district. With a student population of 52,000, CUSD has grown to be the ninth largest school district in the State of California. CUSD has the highest test scores among large districts in the state. Teachers at CUSD have clearly had a very long tradition of excellence and professionalism. Equally important, CUSD teachers have a history of adapting to new challenges while maintaining high performance standards for themselves as well as for their students. Teachers and the very competent support staff have demonstrated a capacity and commitment to work through tough fiscal decisions. CUSD needs trustees who would consider partnership in decision making rather than making teachers and support staff the enemy. CUSD needs trustees who are committed to public education. Trustee Winsten and Lopez-Maddox have proven to be masters in dividing CUSD teachers, staff and parents and have also been responsible for the loss of very competent school site administrators to other districts.

    Trustee Winsten and Lopez-Maddox are on a path to break CUSD’s tradition of excellence and extend the climate of division and rancor throughout CUSD. Their association with the Education Alliance will assure such a consequence.

    I therefore encourage all CUSD constituents to sign the petition to recall Trustees Mike Winsten and Ken Lopez-Maddox. Keep the public in public schools and make all children in our community first.

    Here is a video, Oh What a Tangled Web They Weave.  Won’t embed for some reason but it’s a short watch for those who want a quick overview.

    My husband and I have a six year old in first grade in the Capo school district.  This is important to us.  We can’t let groups like this destroy our public school systems.  As you know, we are not just Democrats, we are people who get involved around here, we stand up against things that we believe are wrong.

    We cannot let this happen here because it can happen in your school district and others.

    For those who want, I will keep you posted.

    Today’s OC News Roundup

    Here are some wild and crazy stories, direct from behind the Orange Curtain:

    Will the World Keep Turning If I Have No Supe? Jubal/Matt Cunningham says “Yes” at OC Blog, but I’m not so sure. After all, there’s no one currently on the board to speak up for Central County. As long as the certified winner is denied her seat, we in Central OC will probably remain forgotten.

    CUSD to Cease Paying for Ex-Superintendent’s Legal Bills… So why would they continue to pay the legal bills for this guy, when he has caused so much grief for all the parents, students, and staff at the school district?

    – “We Met, But Not for Sex.” Defendant Jeff Nielsen took the stand in his own defense in his child molestation trial, testifying that he never had sex with a 14 year-old Westminster boy. He tried to explain away an email asking the boy to meet him for “something quick” as a quick lunch date, even thought the email never mentioned food. Hmmm… This sounds fishy to me…

    And finally…

    Mike Lawson Is Famous!! OK, maybe not beyond the county line… But still, I am thrilled to see him featured in this month’s “BLADE” magazine for making Drinking Liberally-OC happen every Thursday. Now go ahead, and give Mike some love at The Liberal OC for all the hard work that he does!