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Dean Vogel Speech to State Council April 2013


Good morning State Council.

Pink Slips

When we met here in January, We all gave ourselves a pat on the back for what we had done in November, but this past month we saw the results from our action in a big way.

Instead of the 20,000 pink slips that went out in each of the previous three years, this year, there are just 3,000 preliminary pink slips, and there’s a good chance they will go away by the time the revised state budget comes out.

This is a direct result of passing Proposition 30.

We did that!

We not only changed the number of pink slips that were sent out this year, we have changed the public conversation, and it’s been pointed out beyond our borders.

Just this week, the New York Times editorialized, “California has recently shown signs of coming to its senses. Last fall, voters approved Proposition 30, which raises taxes and directs most of the proceeds to education.” 

That was you, each of you, getting out, talking to friends, neighbors – one voter at a time – that turned the tide.

But this didn’t come out of nowhere.

We have a long history of commitment, and advocacy and perseverance in this organization.

And because of us, the cause of public education has benefitted as have our students.

150th Anniversary

It may be hard to believe in 2013, but public education, and education for all, is still a cause just as it was when CTA was founded in 1863.

We are carrying on the work that began 150 years ago, and that’s why we are celebrating that fact this entire year.

Back then, John Swett said, “If one state in the union needs a system of free schools more than any other, that state is California.

Her population is drawn from all nations.

The next generation will be a composite one, made up of the heterogeneous atoms of all nationalities.

Nothing can Americanize these chaotic elements and breathe into them the spirit of our institutions but the public schools.”

And isn’t our message the same today?

That’s one of the reasons why CTA is joining the National Education Association, other labor unions and community groups in support of reforming our shattered immigration system.

The children of these newer immigrants are our students, who, with our guidance, will become the leaders, the business owners, the workers, and the teachers of tomorrow.

Our members are already committed to these students.

The Dreams Alliance at CSU Northridge reaches out to undocumented students to make sure they are supported.

Faculty like Rosa Rivera Furumoto had one such student whom she helped qualify for a grant so she could stay in school.

Because of that intervention, Ana, her student, is now earning her teaching credential at UCLA.

Such Dream alliances are at work on other campuses as well.

I know many of you have had students like Ana.

Providing them and their parents with a roadmap to become citizens will only make us all stronger.

That’s why we urge Congress to move swiftly in passing a common-sense immigration process, and that’s why we will participate in a national rally in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday.

You can also make your own voice heard by adding your name to the Student and Family Petition at educationvotes.nea.org.

It is our policy that every student attending a public school in California is entitled to equal access and educational opportunities.

And the roots of that policy go back 150 years, again, to John Swett.

Funding Proposal

Gov. Brown supports the same educational equality as well, which is why he has proposed a new funding formula for California schools.

As he said in his State of the State address, “Equal treatment for children in unequal situations is not justice.”
The Local Control Funding Formula is designed to provide base level founding to all students and additional funding for English learners, students living in poverty, and foster youth.

Another 35% per student will be added to districts that have high concentrations of high-needs students.

To provide this additional funding, one of the things the plan does is consolidate most categorical programs.

And that’s where we have questions.

For example, under the new proposal, money for professional development would be decided at the local level, rather than state.

Money for implementing the new Common Core State Standards and adult education would also be part of the new formula and decided at the local level.

That, quite honestly is unacceptable.

And CTA has had those conversations with the governor.

There must also be accountability provisions in this funding proposal to ensure districts spend the money the way they are supposed to in order to meet student needs.

It will be important for educators to get involved and have a say in these local issues, which is why we are recommending that local chapters not rush into settlements between now and when the revised state budget comes out in May.

Many of you will be discussing the proposal in your committee meetings this weekend, which will help us in our response.

If changes are in store, we must be prepared to meet them and be part of the conversations—at all levels.

Dismissal bill

And we will, just as we recently met State Sen. Alex Padilla head-to-head on his teacher dismissal bill.

To counter Padilla’s punitive bill of last year, we were working with Assembly Education Chair Joan Buchanan to put forth new legislation that actually streamlines the dismissal process, protects students and protects the rights of educators.

Buchanan filed two bills, both in line with CTA policy and both reflecting the good work of our GR and Legal staff.

And in a quick change of position, Senator Padilla called me to say he wanted to sign on as a co-author with Buchanan, and I commend him for it.

We moved swiftly to take an interim support position on the bill.

The Teacher Evaluation and Academics Freedom Committee will have more discussion today.

This bill is not perfect and we do have concerns with some provisions, but it shows how when people put rhetoric aside and have honest discussions about good education policy, we come to a much better solution.
This too, is something that is part of our legacy.

One of the things the early leaders fought hard for was due process rights.

John Swett fought for it because he saw teachers having to submit to humiliating questions from trustees each year in order to hold their jobs.

This is just as important to us now as it was to those who came before us to form this organization.

No one is more concerned about the welfare of our students than teachers, which is why districts must act immediately to remove a teacher accused of inappropriate conduct from the classroom.

We agree the process must be streamlined and that a timely hearing ensue.

But this does not mean we have to infringe on the fair and just due process rights of teachers.

Strategic Planning

We have an honorable and important legacy that is worth preserving, and worth celebrating.

But this is also a good time to look at what we are doing, what’s working, what isn’t and how we can best lead our organization into the future.

We are not paying lip service to the idea of change when it comes to the future of CTA.

Nearly 15,000 members shared their thoughts about CTA on our online survey.

We're making efforts to ensure that all voices are included: ethnic minority, K-12, higher ed, students, pre-k, support professionals, younger and more experienced members.

We’ve also conducted interviews with various community groups, other labor unions and organization and the media to gain an external perspective.

At our last meeting, we met with Jackson Potter, a leader from the Chicago Teachers Union and Yvonne Walker, President of SEIU 1000 here in California, to learn how they transformed their unions.

Now we will be compiling all of that information.

If you haven’t had a chance to go to our Strategic Planning section on the CTA website, I urge you to take a look at the videos we’ve posted at cta.org/ourfuture.

We have a fantastic committee of leaders, grassroots members, and staff, who are leading the planning process, and let me tell you, it is exciting work.

While committee members all come from different areas, they are focused on one thing – our future. As Arielle Zurzolo, one of our members at Animo Venice Charter High School said, “CTA needs to make sure that we are moving in the direction where members’ interests are met so we can create the best public education system in California.”

And that’s what this is about.

We are the experts in public education and we must not only participate in the public discussion of education, but lead it.

We have a voice and we must use it – as we have done since 1863.

Next month we celebrate the actual founding of CTA on May 4, and we also celebrate the California Day of the Teacher shortly after on May 8.

The theme this year relates to our legacy.

It’s “California Teachers: Honoring the past, guiding the future” and we will have a lot of materials available for you on the website soon to help you get the word out.

My fourth grade teacher at El Rancho Elementary in Chino, Mr. Chavez, was one of my most memorable teachers.

I know each of you has a teacher who inspired you.

I encourage you to contact them in the next month.

A note, an email, a phone call, a personal visit… If you do, please let us know by posting it to our Facebook page. We don’t need a 150 year legacy to know our role in the education of millions of students is critical.

It’s been said in different ways over the years, including in remarks by John Kennedy in 1958, before he was president.

At the time, then-Sen. Kennedy said, “The course of civilization is a race between catastrophe and education. In a democracy such as ours, we must make sure that education wins the race.”, which by the way is not a race to the top.

I want to thank you all for remaining in this educational race, for helping all students succeed, and for being such an integral part of helping shape the future of public education in our state and in our country.

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

© 1999- California Teachers Association