by Frank Wells
In October, State Council members received CTA’s long-term Strategic Plan titled “Our Union, Our Future,” which has been in development for well over a year. The plan, a roadmap for CTA’s future, is based on the priorities, input and other data collected from thousands of CTA members and staff, as well as data from parents, community groups and labor union partners. All the data was analyzed and used in the development of the final plan by the Strategic Planning Group, made up of more than 100 CTA members, leaders and staff.
The plan’s genesis was in 2011. Amid increasing attacks on public schools and educators coming from billionaires and politicians, and with schools still struggling against devastating budget cuts, State Council members declared a State of Emergency for public education. Educators held actions across the state and took over the state Capitol. At that same time, Council members called for the development of a long-term strategic plan process to strengthen CTA’s ability to meet the challenges ahead, and to take an in-depth look at the organization and the needs of its membership.
As members of the Strategic Planning Group presented the plan to State Council, Shannan Brown, president of the San Juan Teachers Association in Sacramento County, told her colleagues we are all being called to lead.
“Public education is at a critical juncture. We know education is the vehicle to opportunity, and without a free quality public education system for all, the foundation of our democracy is in jeopardy. The corporate education reformers overly simplify the issues facing our students and our schools and repeatedly prescribe flawed and disproven approaches. We know that successful and sustainable improvement can never be done to or even for educators. It can only be done by and with them. We, the educators of California, are not the problem. We are the solution. With this strategic plan as our guide, the California Teachers Association will once again lead the way. Our students need us, our communities need us, and our state needs us to lead. This is about our profession and the future of our union.”
The plan is built around eight strategic focus areas that have been grouped into three categories.
Quality Public Education and Our Profession
CTA members first and foremost are educators. Helping children, guiding their learning, and being part of a profession that creates a better society and future for all of us are the reasons most members give for choosing to become educators. Focus areas in this category are:
- Advocacy on Education Reform — developing a student-centered platform by educators, parents and the community to lead the education agenda in the policy and political arenas.
- Transforming our Profession — taking control of the profession by establishing high standards of quality in student-centered education, and challenging schools, colleges and universities to improve recruitment and retention of educators.
Building a Strong Union
CTA’s members are the heart of the union and determine its strength and vitality. To reach our full potential, CTA must encourage greater member involvement and forge authentic relationships with community partners at local, regional and state levels in order to shape major policy decisions in the field of education. Focus areas in this category are:
- Building an Organizing Culture — building a state organization and local chapters whose members have a relationship with their union that is active, involved, and ongoing.
- Leadership Development — creating and expanding opportunities for leadership roles and development that reflect the full diversity of CTA members and the communities they serve.
- Community Engagement and Coalition Building — developing and strengthening ties with local communities so educators are seen as sources of expertise on education issues and as valuable partners in developing stronger communities.
- Social Justice, Equity and Diversity — expanding efforts related to CTA’s core values around these issues, and working to eradicate societal structural and institutional forms of oppression that limit opportunities for many.
- Organizing Unrepresented Education Workers — increasing capacity to ensure that all education workers, including education support professionals, college faculty and charter school employees, have a voice. This is essential to CTA’s mission of providing a quality education for all.
Structure and Governance
- Recognizing that its structure and governance systems must respond to both short- and long-term challenges, CTA will ensure that its structures, including leadership and staffing models, meet those needs and reflect the organization’s long-standing commitment to a strong system of representational democracy. Budget priorities would reflect those needs and the focus areas of the strategic plan.
“This plan is an exciting map for CTA’s future,” says CTA President Dean Vogel. “It focuses on key areas that will make an organization I’m already so proud of even better. It fosters an organizing culture in CTA — so that members are continually engaged, and so that we are continually talking with, and more importantly listening to, each other.”
Read the plan and get more information on CTA’s strategic planning process at www.cta.org/OurFuture.
State Council members will vote on the plan’s adoption in January. In the meantime, discussions with members will take place at CTA conferences, Service Center meetings, local chapter meetings, and in two Telephone Town Halls on Jan. 7. The Telephone Town Halls are designed to provide more information and answer questions. You can register to join the Town Hall at www.cta.org/townhall.
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