ESTA           UPDATE

East Side Teachers Association/CTA/NEA        888 So. Capitol Ave      San Jose, Ca  95127     January 31, 2005

Don McKell, President        Ralph Giannini, Vice Pres         Jane Voss, Secretary       Tom Richardson Treasurer

EstaPres@pacbell.net        fax: (408) 272-7569          voice: (408) 272-0601         website:  www.EastSideTA.org


 


ESTA TREASURER ELECTED

ESTA held a district-wide election on January 26 to select a permanent Treasurer.  Our previous elected Treasurer resigned earlier this school year and the post had been ably filled on an interim basis by ST math teacher and former ESTA Treasurer Chris Tsuji.

ESTA voters selected Tom Richardson (SCHS) over Bernadette Salgarino (EVHS) by a vote of 218 to 165 in the election.  Tom will assume his new duties right away.  As a newly-elected ESTA Executive Officer, Tom will also become a voting member of the ESTA assembly and the ESTA Executive Board.  Terms of all current ESTA Executive Officers expire on the first work day of the 2006/2007 school year.  An interesting side note:  Tom’s election means that three of the current four ESTA Executive Officers (Giannini, Voss, Richardson) are members of the Silver Creek faculty.

My sincere thanks to Bernadette Salgarino for agreeing to become a candidate for the Treasurer post, and to Chris Tsuji for filling in as Interim Treasurer.

 

Official Elections Results:  ESTA Treasurer

January 26, 2005

Site

Voters

Tom

Richardson

Bernadette

Salgarino

others

AHHS

109

3

19

 

DO

15

4

3

 

EVHS

89

4

33

 

FHS

33

11

5

 

IHS

184

32

14

1

JLHS

60

9

8

 

MPHS

92

20

16

 

OGHS

133

31

17

 

PHHS

94

5

20

 

SCHS

111

62

8

 

STHS

107

15

11

 

WOHS

83

9

1

 

YB

79

10

7

3

other*

22

3

3

 

TOTAL

1211

218

165

4

* assorted Alternative Education sites

 

TEACHER LOAN FORGIVENESS

Teachers of math, science, or special education, who have done (or will do) so at a Title I school for at least five years, may be eligible for new federal student air loan forgiveness limits under the terms of a new law.

You’re going to love this title:  the Taxpayer-Teacher Protection Act authorizes up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness to eligible highly qualified teachers in the above three categories.  The increase of $12.5k above previous loan limits is intended to ease the shortage of teachers in what are termed “key subject areas”.  Additional eligibility requirements state that applying teachers must have had no student aid loan balance prior to October, 1998, and may borrow eligible loans by the end of September, 2005.  To learn more, visit www.ifap.ed.gov/dpcletters/GEN0414.html

WILLIAMS LAWSUIT SETTLEMENT

Both the U.S. Constitution and California law make it illegal to discriminate against people because of their race, ethnicity, or religion.  However, a number of ways have been found to legally practice discrimination against people because they are poor, or because they come from poor neighborhoods.

Over four years ago, a collection of entities including the ACLU brought suit against the State of California on behalf of children in school districts that, it was essentially alleged, were victims of state-condoned apathy.  Evidence of that apathy cited in the lawsuit included a higher percentage of shabby school buildings, out of date or missing textbooks, and larger  numbers of ill-prepared teachers at inner-city schools than in wealthier suburbs.

Sound familiar?

The lawsuit dragged through the courts, as lawsuits do.  However, shortly after the gubernatorial recall that replaced Gray with Arnold, a tentative settlement was reached.  As a result of what is now called the Williams Settlement, many schools in the state, including 120 right here in Santa Clara County, will fall under yet another monitoring program mandated by the state and carried out by County Offices of Education.   During the first year of implementation in this County, there will be a pool of around $5 million in state funding to make this work.  Don’t you feel better already?

According the Dr. Jeffrey Shafer at the CoE, the program will initially target schools whose results are in the lowest three deciles of – you guessed it – state mandated testing.  Apparently, charter schools are not exempted, because Shafer stated that “participating” sites in East Side will include AH, JL, and the Latino College Prep.  He then corrected himself by removing JL from the list of monitored sites, due to Lick’s being a SAIT school already.  (Presumably, having the state monitor virtually every decision about curriculum matters is enough oversight).  For now.

According to Shafer, throughout the state those schools identified in the lowest three deciles will fall under a new monitoring system, which will include visitations by ‘inspectors’.  These inspections will check restrooms and building upkeep, sufficiency of adequate textbooks, and other school features that will be outlined in letters sent to all subject districts in the next few weeks.

It is not clear whether significant new money to rectify any shortcomings will accompany the program, but probably not.  More onerous is the possibility of state “take backs” from districts that fail to measure up, or the initiation of a new kinds of categorical programs that further restrict districts’ options in how a certain portion of existing state funding is spent.

Affected schools must put posters in every classroom informing students of their rights to clean and safe facilities, plus adequate books and supplies, and providing contact information for whistle blowers.

 TEACHER TAXES, 2004

Gone forever, it seems, is the California Teacher Tax Credit that may have had a positive impact in our lives for two brief years.  Still around, I am told, is the $250 maximum deduction for unreimbursed instructional supplies offered on one’s federal income taxes.  Not much, perhaps, but better than a poke in the eye.

Teachers who itemize their deductions on either state or federal tax filings may wish to include expenses for union dues.  Since our work year overlaps two different calendar years, you could go back over each of the ten monthly pay warrant receipts that you got last year and add up the numbers.  But if you taught during both the 2003/04 the 2004/05 school years, here is a summary of your dues expenses based upon the percentage of your teaching assignment.  Full-timers (most of us) paid $942.88 in dues in 2004.

 

You

taught

monthly

dues in 03/04

6

months in ‘04

monthly

dues in 04/05

4

months in ‘04

10 months

 in ‘04

33%

or less

$29.20

$175.20

$30.07

$120.28

$295.48

34% to 50%

$46.75

$280.50

$48.36

$193.44

$437.94

51% to 60%

$56.06

$336.36

$57.88

$231.52

$567.88

61% to 100%

$93.00

$558.00

$96.22

$384.88

$942.88

 

Some of us make payroll deductions to the Foundation to Assist California Teachers (FACT) that the District includes in the union dues category on pay stubs.  These are tax deductible.  Others of us make payroll deductions to the NEA Fund for Children and Public Education, which the District also includes in the union dues category.  These are not tax deductible.

Don’t forget also that any contributions you make to the Benevolent Alliance of East Side Employees (BAESE) are tax deductible.  These show up on your pay stub identified as BNTVAL.

 

YOUR COURSE SYLLABUS

How do you compute your students’ grades?  What is your policy on daily attendance?  on missed homework?  What are a student’s options about makeup work?  is there a time limit? a value deduction?

These are but a few of the issues that most teachers should include in their “green sheets”.   It often seems that teachers who have clearly delineated their policies on these matters, and who take steps to assure that students and their parents have a chance to read and acknowledge them, are the ones that seldom have to deal with the aftermath of misunderstandings at grading time.  Newer teachers especially can benefit by asking to see the green sheets of their more veteran colleagues.

It may take several years of changes, based on actual experience, to settle upon a formula of how to operate one’s classes.  When parents and students know what to expect in advance, and when a teacher treats all students consistently, there will be fewer challenged grades and irate people.  If you have created a course syllabus that seems to cover most issues, share it with others in your department.  Also, seek to find out if some of your practices are at odds with District policies.

EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE PROGRAM

Perhaps the least utilized of our current benefits is the EAP, which offers free and confidential Clinical Counseling and Life Management Services to ESTA members, their spouses or domestic partners, and children under age 19 (under 24 if a full time student).

Up to seven 50-minute sessions per year are available for Clinical Counseling, generally in a counselor’s private office.  These can be for: relationships/marital issues, life changes, family problems, alcohol/drug abuse, and stress/emotional problems.  A similar number of sessions are available for what are called Life Management Services.  These include: financial and child care consultations, pre-retirement counseling, elder care, and more.  All of these services are offered through MHN and can be initiated by calling (800) 227-1060.  Watch your school mailbox for the reissuing of a flyer that carries more details about the EAP program.

 

RALLY FOR OUR SCHOOLS

The Campaign for Quality Education, a statewide effort supported by organizations across California, will sponsor a series of “Rally For Our Schools” gatherings at strategic locations on Tuesday, February 8.  Locally, the Rally will be held between 5 – 6 p.m. in San Jose at the State Building, near 3rd Street and San Carlos, at 100 Paseo de San Antonio.

The date is chosen to coincide with the first day of CAHSEE testing in 2005, and the Rally will call attention to the State’s inability to provide basic resources for students to learn:  lack of funding, trained teachers, librarians, counselors, and career guidance.

Californians For Justice, a student group active in several East Side schools, which has worked with in concert with ESTA in the past, has published an informational flyer on the event that has been placed in teachers’ mailboxes.  CFJ will be providing rides from their local headquarters at 1971 Las Plumas Ave near Independence High School.

 

CLASS SIZE WAIVERS

It’s a new semester, and that means some of us can expect to deal with requests to sign class size waivers again.  In the Stipulated Arbitrator’s Award that ESTA and the District signed last October, both parties agreed that one teacher’s willingness to sign a waiver might have an impact on class sizes of other teachers of the same course at the same school.  For example:  if there are six Geometry classes at your school, with a total of 20 students over the class size limits, the District is obligated to open a new section because 20 is more than half of the contract limit of 32 students in math.  But if one of those Geometry teachers (with, say, 6 students over the limit) signs waivers, then those six students are subtracted out of the aggregate overage of 20, which results in only 14 too many students in the other teachers’ classes.  Those other teachers will have to continue teaching their oversize classes, because 14 is not a high enough number to trigger the automatic creation of another section.

It wasn’t always this way, but that’s the way it is now.  ESTA’s reaction will be to become much more observant of such possibilities, and we will not co-sign waivers that have this sort of negative impact.  By the way, all waivers this semester must be completed by Feb 10, or they will be invalid.