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Update: Thursday, May 28 – Winding Down the School Year for 2019-20.

First, we would like to apologize for the turnaround on calls and emails. We try to get a turnaround on inquiries within 24 hours. A tsunami of calls and emails have slammed the Association. It’s not just our members. Parents, students, and community members have turned to the Association for answers we simply don’t have. Culling through to membership issues are the priority, but sometimes we don’t get to the “are you a member?” question before we’ve been peppered with questions and concerns. Thank you for your patience. Seriously, thank you.

We got a call from a TALB Rep. today that was unusually cheerful. Typically, folks don’t call their union to tell them they are having a good day. This Rep. had site concerns, but it was the resilience of her voice in such chaotic times that took us by surprise. It was the sudden and tragic loss of a loved one a few years ago that put things in perspective for this TALB Rep. As much as we want to “know” what is happening, what to expect, when will this madness all end, we aren’t going to know, until we know. The ability to fully comprehend that we are never really in control, that we must live in the moment and find the silver linings in life, less we become riddled with anxiety and fear. We share this with you because the following paragraphs may be unpleasant.

Does it bring you joy?

The plan, at the moment, is to have classrooms set up in the fall for “social distancing”. What does that look like? Great question. Our schools come in all different shapes and sizes, just like the classrooms. The metric will be based on a 6 foot “social distancing” perimeter for each student. The size of your classroom or bungalow will determine how many students will fit. Keep in mind the math that is being used to determine how many kids will fit in your classroom is based on that classroom being barren.

On Tuesday, May 26, outgoing superintendent Chris Steinhauser spoke at our Rep. Council. His message was very clear:

ALL personal belongings need to be removed from your classroom – ancillary personal teaching materials, books, refrigerators, microwaves, furniture, etc.

Email  your site administrator/principal if you need boxes to pack your stuff.

Since Tuesday evening that message has been somewhat softened, on a case by case, site by site situation. For instance if you have space in built-in cabinets, maybe your classroom set of books/readers will fit there? Perhaps, you could leave that refrigerator on top of a countertop. Consistent messaging has been difficult even pre-Covid-19. In this era, it would be nice if central office would centralize.

Here are some things to consider:

Do you really want any of your personal belongings to be potentially infected with Covid-19? Rooms will have to be sanitized daily. The less surface area to be cleaned and disinfected the better. Covid-19 is an aerosolized virus. Anyone coming into your classroom could be “shedding” virus into the room’s atmosphere.

LBUSD has been in declining enrollment since 2005 when we peaked at nearly 100,000 students. We are currently hovering at 70,000 students with a PRE-COVID-19 projected decline of another 10,000 students over the next 5-7 years. Just how many students come back on September 1 is uncertain. We certainly don’t want people to panic, but if we have been normally losing 2-3% of our students (mostly due to housing costs & declining birth rates) what is the possibility that housing and food security issues could amplify that decline?

In the past few years we’ve had teachers reassigned to different grade levels and unfortunately in some cases, displaced because the projected number of students didn’t actually materialize. Raising the prospect of having to move your personal belongings yet again. Cover your bets and take home what you can now because at the current moment the conversations being had with the District is a “hybrid” model for 2020-21.

What does that look like, this “hybrid” model you say?

The District is planning to offer online learning opportunities with grades for the fall. Details have not been sorted out, but it would appear there is a market for online learning that is synchronous (live) that would pull students out of a school site for online learning. If there suddenly was a cure or vaccine for Covid-19 the students could return to their previously assigned school site, but moving forward online learning for LBUSD might become a thing. Superintendent Steinhauser stated that the parent panoramic survey for the fall indicated as much as 30% of our families (Districtwide) would like to stay home for online learning (keep in mind there is about a 20% return on parent surveys, but this year there actually might be more input – the window to take the survey has not ended). Hence, the employee panoramic survey which solicited interest in becoming an online teacher for the fall. Here in lies the rub. If you were to take 30% of your student population out of your site for online learning, how many teachers would you still “physically” need at your site? Even with classes ranging from 10-15 students, is there a possibility of grade/subject reassignment or displacement in August? Yes. Keep in mind you might be at a site where 50-60% of parents will want online learning. All of this will have to be sorted out over the summer and we are working on it, but give yourself as much flexibility as possible during these turbulent times. 

You’re better off getting all of your personal belongings now, rather than have to reshuffle in August. We should be getting word from central offices soon, allowing people to take their vehicles on campus to move out personal belongings.

 


All of the above is predicated on avoiding a massive second wave of coronavirus infection. If there are mobile morgue freezers, like they have in New York City, being operated in front of Long Beach Memorial Hospital, it is unlikely we will physically reopen schools and everyone will have to transition back to online learning. The Long Beach Health Department is currently stating that if two people at a site test positive the school will have to close and quarantine for two weeks. In theory, we could have multiple sites open and multiple sites on quarantine. How we would provide program continuity while shifting from physical school to online school has not been mapped out yet either.

There is very little that can be said with confidence at this time for our schools. Teachers first day of duty is STILL August 31 and schools will reopen on September 1, whether that is at your home or back at our “brick & mortar” physical school sites. What that will look like is still shrouded in mystery. There are too many variables compounded with a funding crisis.


WE NEED FEDERAL ASSISTANCE

If ALL of us in the country call our legislators, MAYBE the Federal Government will help. If you have friends and family in “blue” & “red” states, PLEASE encourage them to contact their Federal State Senators, demanding the Federal Government provide stimulus money for public schools. The current State budget proposal for California includes help from the Federal Government. If we don’t get that HELP, the budget hole will be even bigger for 2020-21. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader of the United States Senate, has suggested States go bankrupt.

That is code for let the states gut themselves, including cutting their State Retirement systems, A.K.A. YOUR PENSION. Mitch has indicated he will not convene the Senate to take up the Heroes Act, which provides assistance to public education, until late June. We have a State budget that has to be constitutionally passed by June 15 in California. We are banking on Federal Assistance that may not materialize.

Whether you are left wing, right wing, center, blah, blah, blah, blah. I would hope we could ALL agree public education is a RIGHT and an INVESTMENT in our future. Public education needs to be funded. Please contact your Federal State Senator and encourage friends and family throughout this great country to contact their leadership and get the Senate back to work and fund public education.

Contact your Representative


Safety of Students and Educators, Deliberate and Collaborative Planning Key as State Begins Preparations to Reopen Schools

CTA President Testifies Before Legislative Budget Subcommittee; Named to Co-Chair Subcommittee on Loss of Learning and Safe Recovery from the Disruption and Devastation Caused by COVID-19

SACRAMENTO — California Teachers Association President E. Toby Boyd issued the following statement in support of deliberate and collaborative planning as the state prepares for the eventual opening of public schools as explained today by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

 “We appreciate Governor Newsom’s relentless leadership during this worldwide pandemic and his commitment to inclusivity and collaboration. The four stages he outlined today will begin to prepare us for the eventual opening of our schools and classrooms. The school closures have been hard on our students, educators, families, and communities. When students physically return to school campuses, it needs to be planned and deliberate with public health at the forefront of all decision-making. We want our students to be safe and ready to learn. This must include safety supports for students and educators.

“As we have those conversations, we will prioritize partnering with parents to address any learning loss. When we can physically open schools again, teachers will look at what each child needs and work together in determining how best to help each student, especially those who may be struggling. California educators can be proud of the tremendous work in advocating for and successfully reaching their students wherever they have been. These are the same educators who are eagerly awaiting the day they will welcome their students back into the classroom and help get them back up to speed.

“We are also facing a lot of uncertainty in the state budget and funding for our local public schools. This is the perfect storm in which revenues are declining dramatically while expenditures continue to increase as we fight to protect our students and communities. It is hard to see any budget solution that does not require additional money from the federal government.

“Today, along with a panel of education stakeholders, we outlined for the legislative budget subcommittee the need to focus on support for students and educators, loss of learning, equity and the digital divide, and a safe recovery from the disruption and devastation caused by COVID-19. I am looking forward to co-chairing the Superintendent’s Loss of Learning Committee with Assembly Member Shirley Weber and serving on the governor’s Recovery Task Force to ensure the concerns of students, educators and their families are represented as California develops the four reopening stages. 

“Educators must continue to be part of conversations that directly impact their students. We look forward to working with the governor and other state leaders to develop an equitable and sound framework for local school districts and educators to follow as they work on agreements that will be best suited for their local students, address their needs and ensure their success.”

Update: Friday, May 15

Happy Friday! | Kick off your shoes, let your hair down and enjoy the weekend!

Yesterday, Governor Gavin Newsom presented a “May Revise” for a PROPOSED State budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year, effective July 1, 2020. 

The next step in the budget dance is with the State’s Legislature. Between now and June 15, 2020. There will be much consternation, hand-wringing and many fights over resources.  The budget is not a done deal. There is some panic about what is truly a devastating economic picture, but any cuts need to be negotiated and each individual public entity, including school districts, will have to come up with their own plan based on their current financial footing. The governor’s proposed budget is contingent on Federal Stimulus dollars being provided to States, Counties and Local Municipalities. Keep in mind that the true picture of the State’s revenue will be unknown until after July 15th, the extended state and federal personal tax deadline. The budget that is passed on or before June 15, 2020, will most likely have to be amended in late July or early August based on actual tax receipts. In past fiscal crises, the State’s budget has been amended multiple times based on revenue that was anticipated vs. revenue that was received.  WE NEED HELP FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT – CALL your legislator. Information below:

What can I do, I feel like I need to do something to help our schools get funding?
Call 1-855-977-1770 and you’ll be connected to your member of Congress. Talking Points Below:

 

Update: Monday, May 11

With no widespread testing for the disease or reliable antibody testing, our economy is reopening in the dark. Will the gains of disease containment that we all spent the last 2 months indoors for simply vanish? We certainly hope not, but history has shown that when quarantines are lifted there is always a resurgence. Our collective leaders from top to bottom appear to have made the conclusion that the disease is too far spread and moving too quickly to stop. The country is cautiously opening up for business. What that will look like is anyone’s guess. Economists like to throw around the phrase “consumer confidence” when anticipating spending habits. Yes, businesses will open, but will the customers feel safe to return?  

Returning to work. This is going to be a challenging and difficult time to assess one’s risk of exposure to the novel corona virus. There are no “protected classes” from this disease. However, it would appear that individuals with underlying health conditions seem to be more vulnerable to COVID-19. We encourage EVERYONE to consider one’s physical and mental health. Federal legislation provides 80 hours (10 days) of COVID-19 related illness, but depending on the severity of symptoms, some will be out longer while recovering.

Things to consider:

  1. Consult your physician if you have any underlying health conditions which may make you more vulnerable to the disease and your ability to fight it off.
  2. When was the last time you had a CalSTRS counseling session? Granted, many people know the exact year and date of when they are eligible to retire, but if you are uncertain you may want to look into it. Some people find that working an extra year or two will not have a significant impact on their monthly income. School will start on September 1.
  3. Leave of Absence. Very few of us are fortunate enough to not have to rely on a paycheck and health benefits. If you have these circumstance you could request a leave of absence for the 2020-21 school year. Maybe then things will be back to a semblance of normal.

The Ensuing Economic Tsunami 

The cover of this weeks’ Time magazine sums up some pretty scary numbers. Governor Gavin Newsom is presenting the May Revise this Thursday, May 14th.  We won’t mince words, the economic picture is grim. Click Link For Projections At best we’ll get a ball park estimate, final numbers on revenue have not been tallied for the 2019-20 fiscal year. Our schools and communities are living through an extraordinary time and the full scope of the COVID-19 crisis is still unknown. What we do know is that schools are the heart of communities, educators are critical in the lives or our students and families and schools are one of the most important elements to getting California back on track.

Likewise, talking and connecting with our co-workers is the heart and soul of our union. Our solidarity is what will carry us through this storm and stave off the inevitable calls for cuts and austerity. We are painfully aware that the state and country are facing a recession due to the economic shutdown resulting from the pandemic. However, the underfunding of public education is not new – for years California students, schools and educators have had to do more with less and we can’t let our students fall further behind. The pandemic has also shined a light on the educational inequity that exists in our system, which means a greater investment in schools not less.


What can I do, I feel like I need to do something to help our schools get funding?

Call 1-855-977-1770 and you’ll be connected to your member of Congress. Talking Points Here

 Update: Tuesday, May 5 — Cinco de Mayo!

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, May 5th, 2020

Too soon? Our usual E-Update led with a cartoon or barb. This is one Cinco De Mayo to remember.


Happy Teacher Appreciation Day. If there are people who
still haven’t come to appreciate what teachers do by now, there is just no hope that they will. Thank you for all that you do and for rising to the challenge of a lifetime! Hold your head up high, take it in, you are a REAL SUPERHERO!


QUICK HITS:
What is TALB working on?

 High Volumes of calls and inquiries. This transition has been a herculean task for many of our members. Others have been managing. Still, others have been driven to expand learning opportunities above and beyond all expectations. We applaud and commend all teachers, knowing they are doing their best under extraordinary circumstances. Yet, given the theme of many of the concerns we’re receiving, we still ask you to be mindful of your physical and mental health, number of hours being poured into a work day and the ability of families and students to be engaged. All would like life to get back to normal, but that could be a while and look very different.


School Reopening – when and how is that going to work? There are no concrete plans made at this point. There is a whole lot of spit balling on how that would work with “Social Distancing” being the only semi-effective way of managing the transmission of Covid-19. The Health Department will release guidelines, when and what that looks like is still unclear. The District is conducting summer school via online learning opportunities. At the time of this writing, we are still on schedule for the start of the 2020-21 school year on Monday, August 31.. Whether that be at your physical site or at your “home virtual classroom” has not been sorted out yet.


Budget Cliff Hanger  The economic damage from this global pandemic is murky at best. We won’t know anything with clarity until August at the earliest, after the State determines incomes taxes from the July 15th deadline. Even then it will only be a partial picture.


Board of Education Meeting Tomorrow (Wednesday) @ 5:00 P.M.

There are some interesting “Business Actions” & “New Business Items” scheduled for the school board meeting tomorrow, Wednesday, May 6th @ 5:00 p.m. The Board of Education Agenda can be found here: http://www.lbschools.net/Asset/Files/BOE/Agenda/2020-05-06.pdf

The Meeting link to watch live can be found here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M38aBERBad0
or   https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZNx43GNGg5VUPWF3L7l8ZQ?view_as=subscriber


 Returning to your school site.

We’ve been assured that all schools have been cleaned by the superintendent, Chris Steinhauser. If you want to collect your personal belongings, rearrange your classroom for cleaning or are having to pack up due to HVAC construction or classroom reassignments you can make those preparations. It is recommended that you email your principal / site administrator of your desire to return to your school site and work in your classroom. Some schools may or may not be accessible for a variety of reasons, so please check in first with your administrator and pin down a date and time you’d like to be on campus. The intent is keeping everyone safe and mindful of sanitation guidelines and physical distancing while on campus.


 Bargaining

The District Lead Negotiators and TALB Bargaining Chair & TALB Executive Director spoke this afternoon from 3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m., telephonically. As expected there is no final agreement. Lengthy conversations were held surrounding schools reopening. Outstanding issues surround “All Day Kindergarten”, Special Education programs, and Transfer & Reassignments. At the end of the conversation there were more questions than answers. We will meet again, but an agreement is not close. This is the beginning of building a framework for a brave new world.

What can I do, I feel like I need to do something to help our schools get funding?
Call 1-855-977-1770 and you’ll be connected to your member of Congress. Talking Points Below:

Update: Friday, May 1st, 2020

Tough Week for Special Education
The Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, announced on Monday, April 27th, the Department of Education would not waive elements of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) for students receiving Special Education services. We could editorialize ad nauseam for the rationale behind the decision. The notion there can be equivalence with online instruction and a physical classroom for our most vulnerable students is ludicrous. Betsy sees things differently. What does that mean? Schools throughout the country are going to have to attempt to provide indistinguishable services from “pre-Covid 19” Individual Education Plans. Special Education teachers are being directed to attempt to provide an IEP virtually/telephonically. Superintendent Steinhauser agreed on Wednesday, April 29 to provide training and compensation for this new mandate. In a previous E-Update we wrote about the challenge of being given directives that border/teeter on ethical and professional boundaries. Yes, there are some professional services that online services can provide, but even Teladoc does not provide ALL services requiring care. Particularly with ongoing therapeutic needs. Parents may consider to postpone the meeting until an authentic, in person assessment can be made before weighing the status of any IEP. Parents may consider an incomplete picture for service providers to be able to provide credible feedback regarding goals, objectives, progress and or retrograde. The Federal Department of Education’s complete loss of empathy for students, families and instructors is beyond the pale. If families choose to attempt to hold an IEP, coordination with all service providers will be crucial given the flexibility of “online learning opportunities” and instructional schedules of all parties may not be synchronous. This is an evolving educational catastrophe we expect to feel reverberations from for years to come. In the coming weeks there will be TALB online forums to discuss current issues and the many challenges we’ll be facing when and if school reopens on August 31, just 122 days from now.


Bargaining
The District Lead Negotiators and TALB Bargaining Chair & TALB Executive Director will meet virtually on Tuesday, May 5th. The prospects of a Cinco De Mayo celebration party after closing a deal is so remote, so, so very remote, it is hardly worth suggesting. Hope springs eternal. The list of issues to resolve are mounting.


Grade Level / Assignment Changes
We’ve received reports that some principals are making grade level & assignment changes for 2020-21 school year because “management has a vision”. EVERY YEAR in negotiations we have painfully long discussions about the arbitrary and capricious reassignment of teachers to different grade levels and subject matter. Yes, when there is a declining enrollment or programmatic changes, staffing may have to change, but in the middle of a global pandemic and no clear indication of how schools will open, a principal is going to come up with the bright idea: “you know what I’ll do to make the school better? I will reassign my staff. They WILL love it!”. Providing a sense of stability for a faculty that is bracing for so many unknowns is too much to ask for? We’ve been told countless times that this type of management behavior can be resolved “administratively”, meaning, let management police their own and everything will be fine. There may be plenty of opportunities for reassignments if our declining enrollment accelerates during this National Crisis. There is no clear picture that our current rate of declining enrollment of 1,500-2000 students a year will not significantly jump by August 31. Transfers & Reassignments are still on the table for this year’s negotiations.


The pain of “Social Distancing” a.k.a “Quarantine”
The reports from the field continue to be overwhelming. Yes, the teaching is hard, but the loss of social interaction seems to be weighing heavily on students and teachers. Research has consistently shown that children are safest at a “brick & mortar” school. As educators, we take responsibility during the instructional day for the development of minds and personal safety. These electronic connections may sometimes feel artificial and disingenuous. Working from home creates further layers of disconnect and distortions of time. Without a doubt we all took home work from school “precovid-19”, but most of us had better boundaries with balancing work and life. I go to work. I leave work to go home. Working from home blurs those lines of work and life. Again, we hope you take time this weekend for yourself and for your family.


Safety of Students and Educators, Deliberate and Collaborative Planning Key as State Begins Preparations to Reopen Schools

CTA President Testifies Before Legislative Budget Subcommittee; Named to Co-Chair Subcommittee on Loss of Learning and Safe Recovery from the Disruption and Devastation Caused by COVID-19

SACRAMENTO — California Teachers Association President E. Toby Boyd issued the following statement in support of deliberate and collaborative planning as the state prepares for the eventual opening of public schools as explained today by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

“We appreciate Governor Newsom’s relentless leadership during this worldwide pandemic and his commitment to inclusivity and collaboration. The four stages he outlined today will begin to prepare us for the eventual opening of our schools and classrooms. The school closures have been hard on our students, educators, families, and communities. When students physically return to school campuses, it needs to be planned and deliberate with public health at the forefront of all decision-making. We want our students to be safe and ready to learn. This must include safety supports for students and educators.

“As we have those conversations, we will prioritize partnering with parents to address any learning loss. When we can physically open schools again, teachers will look at what each child needs and work together in determining how best to help each student, especially those who may be struggling. California educators can be proud of the tremendous work in advocating for and successfully reaching their students wherever they have been. These are the same educators who are eagerly awaiting the day they will welcome their students back into the classroom and help get them back up to speed.

“We are also facing a lot of uncertainty in the state budget and funding for our local public schools. This is the perfect storm in which revenues are declining dramatically while expenditures continue to increase as we fight to protect our students and communities. It is hard to see any budget solution that does not require additional money from the federal government.

“Today, along with a panel of education stakeholders, we outlined for the legislative budget subcommittee the need to focus on support for students and educators, loss of learning, equity and the digital divide, and a safe recovery from the disruption and devastation caused by COVID-19. I am looking forward to co-chairing the Superintendent’s Loss of Learning Committee with Assembly Member Shirley Weber and serving on the governor’s Recovery Task Force to ensure the concerns of students, educators and their families are represented as California develops the four reopening stages.

“Educators must continue to be part of conversations that directly impact their students. We look forward to working with the governor and other state leaders to develop an equitable and sound framework for local school districts and educators to follow as they work on agreements that will be best suited for their local students, address their needs and ensure their success.”

 

April, 2020 Update Archive

March, 2020 Update Archive