By Mike Myslinski
Jack Foreman (second from left), president of the Centinela Valley Secondary Teachers Association, with the three CTA officers, accepts the Joyce Fadem Chapter-in-Politics Award for Small Chapter.
In his address to State Council in May, CTA President David A. Sanchez said that CTA will do everything in its power to protect students and schools during this economic crisis. That includes taking legal action to recover $9.3 billion in education funding diverted during the state budget battles, and working to change the state's two-thirds vote requirement to pass a state budget.
"We will continue to lead the fight to guarantee that our schools and colleges get the resources they need, deserve, and are owed under law," said Sanchez.
In his speech just four days before the May 19 special election, Sanchez warned that if the budget-related Propositions 1A-1E failed — as they did — public schools would face cuts of huge proportions. He praised Council for endorsing all the ballot propositions, and for a successful phone banking campaign — reaching more than 135,000 voters around the state.
He criticized the Legislature's "illegal manipulation" of Proposition 98, the state's minimum education funding law, to divert $9.3 billion owed to schools. CTA has prevailed in court twice in the past 15 years when similar diversions occurred, and its attorneys have been working since January to prepare a possible lawsuit, he said.
Sanchez told Council that the lawsuit filed during the campaign by two other unions was premature. "Our attorneys are working with other members of the Education Coalition to ensure we have the best legal case possible when we file in court," he said.
Meanwhile, it's time to change the two-thirds budget vote rule that only perpetuates the state's broken system, Sanchez said. "California's budget process remains fatally flawed. It's one of the things that have brought us to the brink of disaster in the first place. As long as a small minority can hold our state budget and our schools hostage, we're not going to be able to fix the problem."
A new CTA fact sheet distributed at State Council noted that tax breaks only require a simple majority vote — and that tax cuts enacted since 1993 will cost California $11.7 billion in the fiscal year ending July 1. The fact sheet notes the two-thirds vote has allowed "a small minority of lawmakers to hold the budget hostage to personal philosophical agendas that are not shared by the vast majority of Californians."
Sanchez announced that CTA is reaching out on this effort to overturn the two-thirds vote. California is one of only three states (Arkansas and Rhode Island are the others) that require a two-thirds vote of legislators to pass the state budget, and one of only 12 states that require a two-thirds vote or higher to increase taxes.
"CTA is working with a group of labor unions and other organizations to end this ridiculous requirement," Sanchez said. "It's time to bring democracy back to California and eliminate this unfair roadblock that puts our schools and our state in turmoil year after year."
Executive Director Carolyn Doggett said in her speech to Council that the ability of CTA members to rise to the occasion again and again, to push back against adversity during dark economic times, is the key to the survival of the association. "We strive to be proactive. We continue to fight for reforms that we know will work. And we do it together."
Doggett added, "CTA has weathered hundreds of storms since our founding 146 years ago, and we will weather many more."
In other action, State Council:
- Elected Elana Davidson (District F), David Goldberg (District J-LA), Jim Rogers (District M), and Curtis L. Washington (At-large) to the CTA Board of Directors.
- Approved the CTA budget, which included an increase in CTA Category 1 dues by $22 from $599 to $621.
- Approved new CTA policy concerning affordable housing for educators and supported pending legislation that would promote this kind of housing stock.
- Re-elected Floyd Worsham (District J) to the CTA/ABC Committee.
- Honored winners of CTA's 50th annual John Swett Awards for Media Excellence in a reception Friday night, May 15.
- Recognized winners of the State WHO awards.
- Recognized winners of the Joyce Fadem Memorial Chapter-in-Politics Awards: Centinela Valley Secondary Teachers Association for Small Chapter; Livermore Educators Association for Medium Chapter; and Mt. Diablo Educators Association for Large Chapter.
- Recognized winners of the Theodore Bass Memorial Teacher-in-Politics Awards: Jason Dufenhorst, San Jose Teachers Association, for Getting Others Involved; Leslie Littman, Hart District Teachers Association, and James Messina, Grossmont Education Association, for Local Priorities; Melody Kelly, Ontario Montclair Teachers Association, for Partisan/Non-Partisan Activities; and Andy Montoya, Fullerton Elementary Teachers Association, for Coalition Building.
New phone-banking technology
At State Council in May members used a new phone-banking system while placing calls in support of Props. 1A-1F. The system was set up to automatically dial preprogrammed phone numbers of voters across the state, allowing Council members to place more calls in a shorter time span.