Suzanne Potter / California News Service
SAN FRANCISCO – On Friday hundreds of teachers rallied for a better contract with the City College of San Francisco, then headed to a downtown hotel to tackle statewide education issues at the California Federation of Teachers’ annual convention.
More than 600 educators attended the conference, where the theme was “Activate Labor for Justice.” CFT president Joshua Pechthalt, said the issue at CCSF is intransigence by college administrators at the bargaining table in the wake of an attempt by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges to shut the college down.
“They’ve lost thousands of students as a result of this threat to close down the City College of San Francisco,” he said. “And now the faculty – after years of shouldering these cuts – really are asking for a decent salary increase, in a city that is very expensive to live in.”
Pechthalt said educators at the conference will be discussing their support for a ballot measure in November that would extend Proposition 30, which passed four years ago and taxed the wealthy in order to fund schools.
In order to address the teacher shortage, he said, the state needs to better fund programs to forgive teachers’ student loans. Even more difficult, he said, will be changing the narrative of anti-public-education interests, who persist in blaming teachers for problems in the schools.
“The toxic environment that surrounds public education has discouraged people from going into the teaching profession,” Pechthalt said, “and, frankly, has encouraged veteran teachers to get out.”
One topic at the convention was the current anti-labor case before the U.S. Supreme Court. In Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Association, the issue is whether nonunion members can opt out of paying union dues even when they benefit from a union’s collective bargaining.