CTA Strategic Plan Spurs Community, Student, Union and Professional Advocacy and Organizing Successes. The common thread in the tapestry of our recent successes as a union is the CTA Strategic Plan, President Eric Heins told State Council delegates in his keynote speech kicking off the busy weekend meeting.
“Guided by our Strategic Plan adopted by this body, we are listening to and engaging members, advocating for our students, leading our profession, reaching out to our communities, organizing to build a stronger union and standing up for a just society for all,” he declared.
In a major win for public education and our students, a state appeals court recently overturned a Los Angeles Superior Court judge’s ruling upholding the deeply flawed Vergara lawsuit that threatened to destroy California educators’ job protection rights. “Just as educators, civil rights groups and legal scholars had argued, the appellate judges ruled that state statutes affirming educator rights do not harm students,” Heins said.
Also, CTA joined NEA in fighting for the new, federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which replaces the one-size-fits-all No Child Left Behind law. Now, ESSA allows California educators to work with state leaders to develop a new student accountability system that gauges achievement with multiple measures, not just a single statewide test score, Heins said. He co-chaired a state panel that recently submitted a plan for a new system to the State Board of Education.
He also praised the San Diego Education Association for organizing educators and parents to get San Diego Unified to “significantly reduce the amount of high-stakes testing and to focus instead on student well-being and achievement.”
CTA launched a new advertising campaign featuring real teachers showcasing the importance of leading the profession.
And Heins praised CTA members for collecting 150,000 signatures to qualify the California Children’s Education and Health Care Protection Act for the November ballot. It extends current state income taxes on the wealthiest Californians, and if it’s defeated, new state budget data shows education funding could face an immediate $4 billion cut.
In closing, he noted that June is Pride Month. As this CTA video shows, he talked about CTA being on the “right side of history” when it comes to fighting for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community.
“As educators, our job is to create a safe learning environment, not just physically, but emotionally as well,” he stressed.
He thanked delegates for “creating and shaping our vision for the future and making our vision a reality.”
Executive Director: Charter School Advocates Spend $11 Million
Backed by billionaires, the PACs for EdVoice and the California Charter Schools Association spent more than $11 million in the June 7 California Primary Election on “Independent Expenditure” campaigns to defeat state legislative and county school board candidates that CTA and other labor unions support, Executive Director Joe Nuñez informed Council delegates.
These two groups poured $9 million of that war chest into 12 state Assembly and Senate districts, outspending CTA by nearly 40-to-1, he said.
On the state budget front, as of the June 3-5 State Council meeting, state revenue estimates were down by about $2 billion. But thanks to voter-approved Proposition 98 and its minimum education funding guarantees, the governor’s May Revision state budget was still providing more money for public schools, Nuñez noted. It proposes $4.4 billion more in total K-12 funding. The May Revision also included another $500 million for adult education and more than $1.4 billion in one-time, discretionary funding to local districts for implementation of the California Standards and to support induction programs.
“Community colleges get significant increases under the revised budget,” he said, including another $200 million to the Strong Workforce Program, which supports career and technical education.
President Heins, Delegates Attend Vital Forum on Accountability and ESSA
CTA President Eric Heins, Council delegates and experts took part in a special forum about what’s happening as California begins to develop a new State Accountability System that focuses on multiple measures and aligns with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
They discussed the state’s Advisory Task Force on Accountability and Continuous Improvement report, ESSA rulemaking and implementation, Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) rubrics, and the state’s new program for helping local school districts achieve the goals set forth in their LCAPs. Panelists included: Ryan Ruelas, Anaheim Secondary Teachers Association; Shannan Brown, San Juan Teachers Association; Patricia Rucker, California State Board of Education and CTA Legislative Advocate; and Joshua Daniels, California Collaborative for Educational Excellence.
Gender Diversity Workshop Covers Transgender Issues
“Be intolerant of all intolerance.” That was the sound advice to all educators from Doreen Webber, a school psychologist and gender specialist from the Stockton Unified School District who offered much more during her workshop on gender diversity and transgender children and teens.
Council delegates learned about federal and state laws that apply to these issues, gender vocabulary, community resources, the latest in gender research, and about gender books for children, teens and parents. Webber also shared her own story about raising her transgender child. In addition, she showed this moving “Raising Ryland” video about another family’s experiences.
“Try to think of other ways to classify your classes,” Webber said, besides boys and girls. And stand up to abusive speech. She said research shows LGBT youths will stop reporting incidents at school if they feel that “nobody’s standing up” for them. The forum was sponsored by the Council Civil Rights in Education Committee and the LGBT Caucus.
In Other News, State Council…
- Approved a recommendation from the CTA Board of Directors that the October State Council meeting be based on the 2012 model used during the Proposition 30 campaign, with Council delegates attending campaign activities in the field instead of convening in Los Angeles.
- Celebrated the 10-year anniversary of Education Support Professionals having full recognition as members of CTA. Watch ceremony video here.
- Elected Robert V. Rodriguez, CTA/NEA Coordinating Director on the CTA Board of Directors; Ken Tang to the NEA Board of Directors for District 16; and Gretel Rodriguez, At-Large CTA/ABC Committee member.
- Endorsed the California Medi-Cal Hospital Reimbursement Initiative on the November ballot, but voted to make no recommendation on 14 other ballot measures. CTA already supports the California Children’s Education and Health Care Protection Act and the California Education for a Global Economy Initiative.
- Approved spending up to $25 million from the Initiative Fund to support CTA positions on the November ballot.
- Passed a new CTA state budget for 2016-2017.
- Honored termed-out CTA Board members Dana Dillon, Jim Groth, Tyrone Cabell and Sonia Martin-Solis for their many years of service on the Board. They are all termed-out as of June 26.
- Honored the 24 union activist educators accepting the CTA “We Honor Ours” (WHO) awards bestowed by Service Center Councils across the state for this school year.
- Held a reception for the 16 winners of the 57th annual CTA John Swett Awards for Media Excellence, which honors education reporting in California.