CTA has been leading authentic education reform for years — 150, to be exact. Back in 1863, John Swett, California’s fourth superintendent of public instruction and our founder, brought 100 teachers together to help establish public schools and professional standards. And we’ve been about school improvement ever since.
So, when you hear the phrase “education reform” tossed around, it’s important to remember that the members of the California Teachers Association have consistently spoken out against the market-driven, corporate reform agenda that has monopolized the reform narrative over the last decade.
Today, we continue that work in much the same fashion by coming together to discuss reforms needed by our profession, our students and our schools, and then making them happen.
As I write this, in fact, two important bills are on the governor’s desk.
Governor Brown just signed AB 484. Sponsored by Assembly Member Susan Bonilla (D-Concord), it means a lot less stress for you and your students because it will suspend STAR testing for two years while we implement Common Core State Standards.
California has had some of the highest educational standards in the country for years. But CTA is going to make sure that as we change standards, the implementation will be done thoughtfully and will include teachers in the process.
AB 484 is an example of how CTA works collaboratively with others to make things happen. I want to thank Governor Brown, Superintendent Torlakson, State Board of Education President Michael Kirst, and Assembly Member Bonilla for working so hard to get this bill passed. It was the right thing to do for students and educators.
An important bill waiting for the governor’s signature is AB 375. Authored by Assembly Member Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo) and co-authored by Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), it is designed to streamline and shorten the teacher dismissal process. What was initially a punitive bill proposed in the aftermath of a horrific incident at Miramonte Elementary School has become a much stronger piece of legislation that offers immediate protections for students and families in our communities and a streamlined and shortened dismissal process to ensure charges against teachers are handled fairly and in a timely manner. The bill also clarifies the responsibilities of both school districts and educators with respect to the appeal process.
A companion bill CTA co-sponsored that is now law, AB 449, requires superintendents to report allegations of teacher misconduct to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. Superintendents who fail to do so are subject to fines, discipline and misdemeanor prosecution.
We should be proud of the work done on these bills, and we should be proud that we continue to build on the work that was started over 150 years ago. Back then, John Swett said, “Let us organize and work together. Let us make our influence felt in leading public opinion in school affairs.”
I know that I am proud to be president of CTA while we continue to build on that legacy.