In celebration of Teacher Appreciation Week, some of our administrators have sent emails with student’s sharing their appreciation, quotes from philosophers, and a limited few stated how important we are to them and our school. Those of us who have been here awhile know these emails are often sent during Teacher Appreciation Week. While we appreciate sentiment, we are frustrated that the compassion expressed this one week of the year rarely translates to policies and treatment that express true appreciation for the contributions CAVA teachers make every day. In fact, if our administration truly meant what they stated in their emails, then they would stop their delay tactics and meet us at the bargaining table.
Deanna Haynie said, “[Our] dedication, support, care, and love are truly what makes our students the luckiest in the state!” She’s right! We are some of the most dedicated educators in California! We noticed problems within our school and began to find ways to improve the education of our students. To quote Cathy Andrew from an email she sent on the topic of Teacher Appreciation, “Our students are with us for only a short time, yet that time is powerful – the connections that we make, the school culture that we build, the instruction that we provide – they set the tone for the future”. We agree with Cathy and would like to begin plans for a better future for our students instead of continual delays by the administration and K12. April Warren thanked us for the grace we have extended to her when she lets us down, “Thank you for grace you extend to others, including me, when they or I let you down”. April Warren, we ask you to not let us down when it comes to our students and school. It is time for all administration to put aside their differences and come together for the betterment of the school.
As we eagerly await our Teacher Appreciation email from our Head of Schools, Katrina Abston, we will continue to hope that this year Teacher Appreciation Week will end differently than it has in years past. As stated further in April’s Teacher Appreciation email, “…[making] a commitment to change is difficult for everyone and the uncertainty that change brings causes all of us to question ‘am I up for this?’ When I asked myself that question I came to the understanding that it isn’t about if ‘I am up for this?’ It is about ‘we.’” This year, we hope our gift from the administration is not a bunch of nice words, but an invitation to work together and meet at the bargaining table. We ask the administrators to stand by their words in these emails, listen to the voices of the teachers, and bargain in good faith for a fair contract.
The time is now for the CAVA administration to show their true appreciation for teachers.
The Labor Radio station, a pro-worker show that airs on numerous radio stations in dozens of states, interviewed California Virtual Academies (CAVA) teacher Sarah Vigrass and aired a segment April 29th about our unionizing fight at CAVA. The story also promotes our drive to get the public to sign our #fixCAVAnow petition demanding that management come to the bargaining table and stop delays. The Labor Radio station is part of the Workers Independent News operation based in Wisconsin.
This week CAVA’s management company K12 Inc. held its third quarter earnings call with executives, reporting revenue growth of 4 percent “year over year” and operating income (profit) of just about $19 million for the quarter. On the conference call, recently-hired CEO Stuart Udell expressed his delight with being one of the newest members of the K12 executive team as well as his excitement about what he sees as K12’s potential to deliver for students. It’s no surprise that Udell, whose pay and employment depends on improving K12’s stock performance and investor satisfaction, presented an extremely optimistic front as he speculated that K12’s fourth quarter will be even better.
This despite a rough start for the company’s current fiscal year – one that essentially began with a shareholder revolt that resulted in the voting down of K12’s executive compensation proposal, CAVA teachers delivering a report card of straight F’s to K12’s leadership for its failure to invest in students and teachers, the removal of Nate Davis as the company’s CEO, and sharp criticism of the for-profit company following the release of a series of studies pointing to problems with virtual charter schools due to weak oversight and the industry’s misplaced priorities.
But, if you ask Stuart Udell, at K12 everything is awesome. This is an interesting contrast to the doom and gloom the company sought to broadcast as early as last week in response to the recent articles published by the San Jose Mercury News, which raise very serious questions about how CAVA and K12 are using the public education dollars they receive – millions of dollars intended to provide instruction to our kids but instead funneled out of the state. CAVA and K12 have yet to respond to the actual merits of the news story, instead opting to blame it all away on teachers who have stood up for our students by forming a union. Hmmm.
Oh, and speaking of contradictions, did you know that one of K12’s newest ventures is in partnership with – wait for it – a labor union?! That’s right. Executives on this week’s conference call also touched on their excitement around K12’s Destinations Career Academy – a new technical education online high school in Wisconsin that offers a construction apprenticeship program in partnership with the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 139. Imagine that – K12 seeking to deliver for students in partnership with organized labor.
We sincerely look forward to the day decision-makers at our school embrace a partnership with teachers and our union too – not only for the benefit of shareholders and the bottom line, but for the success of CAVA’s students. Now, talk about awesome.