The California Educator sits down with CTA President David A. Sanchez to talk about why March 4 was so important and what's next.
The California Educator sits down with CTA President David A. Sanchez to talk about why March 4 was so important and what’s next.
Educator: Why was March 4 important for public education?
David A. Sanchez: On March 4, entire communities stood together and said no to any more budget cuts to public schools, community colleges, universities and the essential public services we all need. It wasn’t the first step, but it definitely was a resounding recommitment to take our communities back, to fight for our neighborhood schools and the future of our students and our state. I was re-energized by standing alongside such a vast coalition of supporters.
So, where do we go from here?
We build on the momentum. Each of us must be an ambassador for our public schools and colleges. We must use every outlet we have to let the public know what cuts are doing to schools, communities and our future. Talk to parents, friends, family and community members — to anyone who will listen. Post to your Facebook page or Twitter account. Talk to your local media. We must keep the conversation alive and be proactive in changing the way California funds public education. We must also continue to work with each other and with broader coalitions.
How is CTA leadership maintaining the momentum?
The CTA Board of Directors and State Council of Education have already begun implementing a plan for next steps. We are declaring April Community Outreach Month to build upon the coalitions that came together to make March 4 such a powerful day. We are standing united with the state Education Coalition in demanding no cuts to education and demanding that lawmakers keep their promise to repay public schools the more than $11 billion they are owed under state law. But our current dilemma can’t just be solved at the Capitol alone. Change must happen at the ballot box and in our communities, too. CTA workgroups are creating plans, and State Council is setting the agenda of how we move forward this election year to pass initiatives that make sure large corporations pay their fair share and to elect candidates who will invest in public education and be held accountable.
What are CTA’s goals for school funding this year?
First, we have to ensure that the governor and state lawmakers keep the promises they made last year when they signed the state budget agreement that included restoring more than $11.2 billion to public education over time. Once again, the governor wants to break his promise to students. We are not going to let that happen. We also have to be realistic. California is in the middle of the largest economic recession of our time. All of our goals for funding our schools and colleges will not be achieved this year. But we can definitely start by repealing the corporate tax breaks the Legislature handed out to large corporations and oil companies last year while slashing $17 billion from our schools. And we can definitely start by electing lawmakers who will stand up for public schools when the going gets tough. There’s a long way to go to make sure our schools and colleges get the funding they deserve, and CTA will not rest until we get there. That’s why it’s so important for you to help us build on the momentum by reaching out in your communities and telling your story.