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Wed Apr 11, 2018, 12:40 PM

Teachers at Californias Largest Online Charter School Agree to Historic First Union Contract


Now it’s online charter schoolteachers’ turn…

Teachers at California’s Largest Online Charter School Agree to Historic First Union Contract with K12 Inc., Gains for Students and Teachers, Strike Averted

Labor Agreement at K12 Inc.’s California Virtual Academies (CAVA) is a Model for Teachers in Online Charters Nationwide

Simi Valley –- Teachers at one of the nation’s largest online public charter schools, California Virtual Academies (CAVA), which is affiliated with K12 Inc., a publicly traded company (LRN) focused on online learning, have reached agreement with their employer on a precedent-setting first union contract. The tentative agreement provides for student caseload caps and workload language that will help CAVA teachers better provide individual attention to students. The settlement contains increases in wages and establishes a salary schedule that will make CAVA better able to recruit and retain teachers and reduce staff turnover disruptive to learning. Teachers also made improvements in job status language and, for the first time at a K12 Inc. school, will have due process rights and binding arbitration for grievances.

“Organizing teachers in a workplace where we don’t see our peers and where the bargaining unit stretches across a state as large as California isn’t easy, and it also isn’t easy establishing a precedent-setting agreement,” said CAVA teacher and California Virtual Educators United President Brianna Carroll. “We are so proud of the hard work and commitment our teachers made in ensuring that our core values on work status, caseloads, and workload were recognized. We now have a first contract that begins the process of fixing CAVA and ensuring the success of our students and teachers. Our schools here in California and other online schools have had very little input from the teachers on the frontline. This agreement will change that and allow those who work most closely with students a greater say in shaping the curriculum and school policies.”

California Virtual Educators United was formed by CAVA teachers in 2013 and is affiliated with the California Teachers Association (CTA). Although enrollment has declined recently in the wake of news accounts of a $168 million penalty levied by the State of California against K12 Inc. for alleged fraud and financial abuse that hurt students, CAVA has enrolled as many as 15,000 students in 42 of California’s 48 counties in recent years. The teacher bargaining unit has ranged from just under 500 teachers to 750 at its peak.

In November, CVEU members voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike if the union’s bargaining team could not reach an agreement. Inspired by statewide teacher strikes in West Virginia and Oklahoma, CAVA teachers were prepared to walkout this week if an agreement had not been reached. The tentative agreement will now go to CVEU members for a ratification vote at the end of April.

Virtual charter schools, where classes are taught online, are publicly funded and often managed by for-profit education management organizations. Last year, online schools enrolled approximately 300,000 students nationwide, according to the National Education Policy Center. This is an increase from 199,000 in the 2011-2012 school year.

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CVEU is a chapter of the 325,000-member California Teachers Association, which is affiliated with the 3 million-member National Education Association.

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