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Your Voice. Our Union. Our Future.

FAQs About CTA’s Strategic Planning Process

What is strategic planning?

Strategic planning is a proven way to help unions activate and engage membership, create more effective relationships with community allies, and create common goals for the future.

We have a union so our voices can be unified and can represent our shared values and interests. That’s why CTA is trying to ensure we are moving in a direction where our members’ interests are met. After all, when our members feel supported, they can better support their students. We are going to have to think creatively and think outside the box. We have a lot of power at CTA, but we need to stay aware of what our members want us to do in order to lead and guide the conversation around how to improve our public schools and provide our students with the education they deserve.

Through the planning process, CTA will develop strategic goals, objectives and timelines based on intensive data gathering and careful analysis to ensure the goals are aligned with our capacity to achieve and implement them.

What are the goals for CTA’s strategic planning process?

With the theme of “Your Voice. Our Union. Our Future,” the strategic planning process is designed to build a long-term plan for CTA that engages all members, embraces new ideas, sets priorities, and focuses union resources in order to build the CTA we all want for our future. CTA is committed to making this process open, transparent, interactive and inclusive of all members.

All aspects of the organization, including every “sacred cow,” will be reviewed. We are going to be looking at what CTA does and how we do it. We want to build upon what’s working and let go of what doesn’t — even if that means doing things differently than CTA has done in the past.

If you don’t have a plan of where you are going, you are just going to drive in circles. The goal of this process is not just to hear from local union leaders, but to hear from all educators. CTA is a representative democracy, and we want to hear from all members to build a plan for our future. We want this process to allow all CTA members to see what CTA does for educators and the students they teach on a daily basis.

Are all CTA members really going to be included and will their voices really be considered?

Yes! This process is about all CTA members. How does CTA play a role in your life? Does CTA speak out on the issues you care about? This is your opportunity to have a say in what CTA needs to be.

We have a lot of members who want to be active, but don’t know how to go about it. We hope that through this process we can engage all members and listen to one another for the betterment of our students and schools.

And by all members, this means teachers, education support professionals, college faculty and staff. There are important connections among all CTA members. For example, a lot of the issues that arise in grades pre-K–12 later impact higher education, so we all have to be involved and talk with one another for the betterment of education.

Why did CTA engage in a strategic planning process and why now?

There have been discussions at all levels of CTA regarding the need to take an in-depth look at our organization, review goals, structures and current practices, and develop a plan that builds involvement and helps position CTA for the future.

There has been tremendous pressure on public education and educators for the past few years. Thanks to all of the hard work of CTA members, we went on the offensive and worked in our communities to pass Proposition 30 in 2012. It was a tremendous victory, as voters showed their willingness to invest in our public schools and colleges. We took a step toward tax fairness and raised $47 billion for students and schools over the next seven years. Voters also rejected a measure that would have silenced educators and their unions. But we as we celebrate these victories, we must also take a deep breath and reflect. That’s what this process is about.

The final recommendation to hire a firm and engage in a professional strategic planning process came from CTA’s top governing body, the State Council of Education, which comprises more than 775 democratically elected educators from across the state.

How does CTA’s strategic planning process work?

At the helm of the planning process is  a 70-member Strategic Planning Group (SPG) that was appointed by the CTA Board of Directors. The Strategic Planning Group has a broad and diverse representation of members and staff from across the state. It includes CTA and local chapter leaders, educators, classroom teachers, education support professionals, college faculty and CTA staff.

The planning process itself is structured around the work of various committees and subcommittees of the SPG and a series of four two-day work sessions that provide ample opportunity for the rigorous analysis needed. These committees carry out key planning activities, including talking to educators as well as community organizations, parents, education groups and business leaders.

For the second phase of the process, the committees were restructured into eight focus areas. Those areas are:

  • Advocacy on Education Reform
  • Building an Organizing Culture
  • Community Engagement and Coalition Building
  • Leadership and Leadership Development
  • Organizing Unrepresented Education Workers
  • Social Justice, Equity and Diversity
  • Structure and Governance
  • Transforming Our Profession

Who is guiding CTA’s planning process?

The planning process is led by a 70-member Strategic Planning Group (SPG) that was appointed by the CTA Board of Directors. The Strategic Planning Group has a broad and diverse representation of members and staff from across the state. It includes classroom teachers, educational support professionals, college faculty, CTA and local chapter leaders and CTA staff. CTA has also hired the Labor Education Research Center at the University of Oregon to facilitate and guide the planning process.

What is the Labor Education Research Center and what is its role in the planning process?

The Labor Education Research Center (LERC) is located at the University of Oregon and is recognized for its expertise in strategic planning with labor unions across the country. LERC was established in 1977 by an alliance of unions, legislators, university faculty, labor relations professionals, and communities. LERC’s mission is to provide direct, hands-on education, training, and consultation to workers and unions at the grassroots level. LERC believes that the presence of a strong union movement not only provides workers with vital protections but also is essential to maintaining a just and democratic society. LERC was hired after an extensive search and interview process by CTA leaders and staff. LERC is helping CTA coordinate this extensive strategic planning process.

The initial committee structures include internal and external scan groups. What are those?

The Internal Scan Committee is looking at CTA’s current operations, activities and relationships, as well as reaching out to CTA members to listen to what educators want from CTA. The External Scan Committee is gathering information from other education groups, unions, parents, business leaders and community organizations to hear what they think of CTA. Each scan committee has formed subcommittees to handle several different activities.

What are the Area of Focus Committees and what is their work?

After analyzing all the information that was collected, the Strategic Planning Group identified eight areas of focus to start building the strategic plan. Those committees are now establishing goals in each focus area. The focus areas are:

  • Advocacy on Education Reform
  • Building an Organizing Culture
  • Community Engagement and Coalition Building
  • Leadership and Leadership Development
  • Organizing Unrepresented Education Workers
  • Social Justice, Equity and Diversity
  • Structure and Governance
  • Transforming Our Profession

Click here to learn more about each area and view preliminary goals.

What is the timeline?

The strategic planning process will take more than a year, as CTA wants it to be comprehensive and inclusive. The first meeting of the Strategic Planning Group was held in August 2012. Committees will focus their work through April 2013, with additional sessions in June and September. The final report is scheduled to be completed in late 2013.

Many times, organizations go through strategic planning, a report is developed, and it sits on a shelf. What are we really hoping comes out of this process?

The goal of this planning process is to develop a plan that guides CTA for the future, and aligns structures and resources to meet those goals. It will drive the future of CTA and not sit on a shelf.

How does this planning process relate to what educators do for students or the work they do in their schools, colleges and communities?

Public education is a very important part of everyone’s life. It’s an important part of our economy and the success of California. So it’s important for educators and CTA to take a look at what we are doing, because we do a lot of good work for kids, families and communities. We need to take some time to stop, reflect and plan for the future. By hearing from all educators, we hope to get good information and some surprises on how we can better serve educators, students and public schools. It is an opportunity for CTA to take a more aggressive approach. Educators are the professionals and the experts in our classrooms, and this process could create a way for educators to take charge of where public education is going to go in California.

Every child deserves a chance to learn and no child succeeds alone.

© 1999- California Teachers Association