By Sherry Posnick-Goodwin
At the 2010 CTA Human Rights Awards ceremony (front row left to right), CTA Vice President Dean Vogel, Dixie Johansen, Melodie K. George-Moore, Jill Brabson, Simone Zulu, and Sandra Fink; (back row left to right) CTA Secretary-Treasurer Gail Mendes, Jose Lara, Susan D. Pease, Andy Griggs, CTA President David A. Sanchez. and Carl D. Bullard.
The 2010 CTA Human Rights Awards were presented March 6 at CTA’s Equity and Human Rights Conference, whose theme for this year, “A Nation for All: Celebrating the Diversity in Education,” reflects CTA’s mission of protecting the dignity and rights of children and youth, and securing a more just, equitable, and democratic society. The goal of the Human Rights Awards Program is to “promote the development of programs for the advancement and protection of human and civil rights within the association,” says CTA President David A. Sanchez.
President Sanchez was joined by Vice President Dean E. Vogel and Secretary-Treasurer Gail Mendes in welcoming and honoring the winners of CTA’s standing awards for human rights activists in the public schools.
Nancy Bailey Leadership in Lesbian and Gay Issues Human Rights Award: Carl Bullard, a member of the Fremont Unified District Teachers Association, is a passionate advocate for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights. He has been a trainer for NEA’s GLBT Safety and Bias Cadre, presenting workshops across the nation. Active in his local association as the Human Rights chair, he also serves as the Washington High School Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) adviser. His work has had a profound impact on his campus. The annual Day of Silence, Student Empowerment Summits and Youth Activism Day in Sacramento are fostering the next generation of leaders to impact legislation. Under his leadership, the GSA has lobbied for a state “day of remembrance” for Harvey Milk, which is now included in the CTA calendar. The GSA has also been a past recipient of the CTA Guy De Rosa GLBT Grant and Scholarship Program, which recognized the alliance’s work to attain equality for GLBT students.
Jim Clark American Indian/Alaska Native Human Rights Award: Melodie K. George-Moore, a member of the Klamath-Trinity Teachers Association, is a teacher and tribe medicine woman on the Hoopa Indian Reservation. She strives to preserve the language of the Hupa and has worked successfully to get teachers of the Hupa, Karuk and Yurok languages credentialed in California. She also developed a cultural curriculum. She often uses her skills to mediate between students, educators, families and the law. She has been honored for her dedication to justice and peace for her people.
CTA Member Human Rights Award: Susan Pease, a Unified Association of Conejo Teachers member, has established a training program called Parents Making a Difference (PMAD) in Title I elementary campuses, which has increased the involvement of parents in their child’s education. When her district was planning to close two Title I schools, the parents she trained and organized came to school board meetings and explained why their schools should stay open. Because of her training, parents and faculty joined together to keep the school open. The campus will now will become a model school for English language learners.
César Chávez “Sí Se Puede” Human Rights Award: Jose Lara, a member of United Teachers Los Angeles, is just beginning his teaching career, but is no stranger to activism. He has been active in the Hispanic community for years — as a student, a mentor to other young adults, and as a union activist. He has participated in marches and boycotts, helped organize the teacher hunger strike in Los Angeles against layoffs last spring, and has worked to increase the scholarships for undocumented high school students who wish to attend college.
CTA Peace and Justice Human Rights Award: Andy Griggs, a United Teachers Los Angeles member, is an activist for peace and justice at the local and national level. To inspire youth involvement, he has designed curriculum around this subject. Using the International Declaration of Human Rights as a guide, he has taught fourth- and fifth-graders to develop their own Students’ Bill of Rights. He has worked with the Coalition for World Peace, U.S. Labor Against the War, and the UTLA Human Rights Committee. As the national chair of the NEA Peace and Justice Caucus, co-founder of the American Federation of Teachers Peace and Justice Caucus, and chair and co-chair of CTA’s Peace and Justice Caucus, he has tackled issues ranging from immigration to environmental policy and international relations.
Physically/Mentally Challenged Students’ Issues Human Rights Award: Jill Brabson of the New Haven Teachers Association is a role model for the staff at Delaine Eastin Elementary. Her perseverance, knowledge and patience make her an outstanding educator not only for the special education students in her case¬load, but for all the children of her school. She started her career as a special education aide, and after two years decided to become a teacher. Her efforts to eliminate discrimination against individuals with disabilities include visits to mainstream classes and sponsoring a club that encourages
students to buddy with a special education student.
Lois Tinson Human Rights Award: Simone Zulu, chief negotiator for the Palmdale Elementary Teachers Association (PETA), strongly advocates for the rights of her association members. She has been instrumental in organizing PETA members and the community to become vigilant defenders of public education. She has worked with her association on an outreach project called “Night on the Square,” where members talk to parents and community members and give away school supplies to students. She serves as treasurer of CTA’s African American Caucus, and shares information about African and African American history and culture at many conferences. As an exemplary teacher, member and leader, she is a mentor to many.
Pacific Asian American Human Rights Award: Dixie Johansen, a member of the Ravenswood District Teachers Association, chairs the CTA Pacific Asian American Caucus and the NEA Asian Pacific Islander Caucus. She has worked tirelessly to encourage member involvement in CTA, particularly in leadership positions, and serves as a strong voice for Asian and Pacific Islander teachers, students and community members.
Women’s Issues Human Rights Award: Sandra Fink of the Bay Valley Service Center Council was featured in some of CTA’s television ads in 2005 that fought attacks on public education and persuaded voters to make good decisions. She advocates for women’s rights and educates others about strong women who have changed history, women who struggle to gain respect, women who have no voice, and women who have been ravaged by gender-specific diseases.