Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Sylvia Mendez is keynote speaker
Sylvia Mendez, civil rights activist and 2010 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, is the keynote speaker for the CCA Winter Conference, Feb. 24-26 at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles.
Her Saturday morning keynote address is titled “For All the Children: Mendez v. Westminster.” She was 8 when she and her brothers were denied entry in a whites-only school and were told to go to a school for Mexican children. Her parents, Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendez, filed suit against the Westminster School District in Orange County. The decision in favor of the Mendez family effectively ended segregation as a matter of law in California, and many of the arguments outlined in the case were used later in the Brown v. Board of Education lawsuit.
“My parents just wanted what was best for their children. So I have made it my life’s work to spread their message,” she says. She will share her story with CCA members and discuss the value and importance of a good education. She says she hopes her story will inspire students to continue education into college and beyond. “I’m going to show that no matter your race or background, anything is possible.”
CCA members will also hear from Student CTA leaders at the Saturday lunch session. Student CTA is active at UC, CSU and community colleges. They will be giving us a unique and creative look at their lives, challenges and triumphs.
General conference sessions include negotiating SB 1379, the part-time faculty job security bill passed last fall; CalSTRS and your retirement; member engagement; and communications/social media sessions. Also on tap are a roundtable discussion about the future of the profession; a walking tour of Los Angeles; and the presentation of our “History of Unionism” film, The Lemon Grove Incident, followed by a breakout on Saturday discussing the film and its historical importance.
Lemon Grove, California, was the site of the first successful U.S. school desegregation case, after the school board attempted to build a separate school for children of Mexican origin. On March 30, 1931, the Superior Court of San Diego County ruled that the local school board’s attempt to segregate 75 Mexican and Mexican-American elementary school children was a violation of California state laws because ethnic Mexicans were considered white under the state Education Code. The case is often overlooked in the history of school desegregation.
There is also a Bargaining Academy for chapter negotiating teams, which will run parallel to the regular conference program. The Bargaining Academy will include training on essential bargaining skills and provide up-to-date knowledge on bargaining law and district budgets, all in a very interactive, team-based session.
Find conference registration information at www.cca4me.org.
Hints for activists
Advocating for community college students and faculty
Dual enrollment, funding for part-time faculty office hours, the struggle for a professional accreditor for the community college system, funding. These are just a few of the issues CCA members will be dealing with in the Legislature next year.
CCA’s Legislator of the Year, former state Sen. Marty Block, offered this advice for lobbying legislators in a keynote address during the CCA Fall Conference in October.
- Know the legislator. Google him or her, so you can draw upon some personal history to build rapport in some initial small talk.
- Get to the point quickly; don’t beat around the bush. The legislator needs to know precisely what you are asking for.
- Never be disappointed if you meet with staff instead. The legislator can always be called away at the last minute for a variety of reasons. Treat staff well, because they do most of the work and take all the notes anyway.
- Assume the legislator knows nothing about your issue. Avoid jargon and acronyms. Don’t refer just to the bill number; also mention the author and what the bill does.
- Engage the legislator. Ask questions to get their point of view and response.
- Anticipate and prepare for the legislator’s objections. Always know who is against your bill and why, and always know what it costs.
- Close strong. Ask “Can we count on your vote?” Work to get some sort of a commitment.
- Leave behind a concise written document that summarizes your view and what you are asking for. Limit it to one page.
For details on CCA’s Legislative Agenda and issues, go to cca4me.org/legislation.asp.
Why Unions Matter selected for CCA Book Club
Unions mean better pay, benefits and working conditions for their members. Unions force employers to treat employees with dignity and respect. At their best, they provide a way for workers to make society both more democratic and egalitarian. So says Michael Yates in Why Unions Matter, which will be discussed at the CCA Winter Conference.
Started in 2012, CCA’s Book Club provides a forum for members to read and discuss books about the labor movement and about issues that impact community colleges and faculty. In some cases, the author has been on hand to make a presentation or participate in the discussions.
Find the complete list of books discussed to date under the Communications tab at www.cca4me.org.
Be Inspired at the 2017 NEA Higher Education Conference
“Unite. Inspire. Lead: Strengthening Bridges to Opportunities” is the theme for the 2017 NEA Higher Education Conference to be held March 17-19, 2017, in Dallas, Texas. An optional daylong leadership organizing activity will be held prior to the conference, on March 16. The conference agenda, sessions and registration information can be found at www.cca4me.org.