By CTA President David A. Sanchez
Every day that I visit schools in California, I’m reminded of how far you go for your students. In the face of the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression, you do what you can to soften the blow for your students — you provide school supplies, you incorporate an art assignment into a history lesson, you make sure students clean up after themselves, you make sure they eat even if they forgot lunch money. Many of your students will never fully comprehend the impact state budget cuts are having on their education and school experience. But you do, and parents and the public need to know as well.
As our lawmakers continue to disagree over the state budget, we know that our students’ futures and the future of our state could be the collateral damage. That’s why, since February, we’ve been encouraging all lawmakers to pass Governor Brown’s balanced budget proposal, combining $12.5 billion in cuts and $12.5 billion in tax extensions. (These are not new taxes, and no one will pay any more in taxes than they do now.) The gridlock in Sacramento has resulted in legislators missing every deadline possible to put the tax extensions on a June ballot. So now our schools and colleges have to plan for next school year expecting the worst. This is no way to run the state budget. We are constantly living in a state of emergency, and it has to stop.
California legislators have an awesome responsibility to the people of this state that is not being fulfilled. They have already made additional painful cuts to programs and services, but have failed to extend current revenues just to keep our state afloat. CTA’s State Council of Education has developed a bold plan of action called “State of Emergency” that responds to the current reality as well as the more than $20 billion in cuts our schools and colleges have endured for the past three years. While this plan is part of CTA’s overall goal of promoting tax fairness and securing stable long-term funding for public education, we have a very clear and immediate objective: for lawmakers to extend current taxes in order to prevent deeper cuts to schools, colleges and other essential public services.
We are not in this alone. Our partners in the Education Coalition and the labor movement are supportive of our efforts and eager to join in our weeklong escalation of activities. Here’s what has been planned so far. The week of May 9-13 has been chosen for a statewide week of action. Each day of the week will be devoted to a different type of activity. To make it easy to remember and to plan locally, we are using the acronym L.E.A.R.N.:
- Monday’s activities will be Legislative in nature.
- Tuesday’s will focus on reaching out to Every parent.
- Wednesday, Day of the Teacher, is for Appreciating educators and allies.
- Thursday is for promoting Revenue extensions and tax fairness.
- Friday, it’s Not business as usual, and you are encouraged to attend one of six major rallies around the state.
In addition to our local focus on L.E.A.R.N. activities, CTA members will also be taking their voices to the state Capitol for the entire week. Beginning on Monday, May 9, CTA member volunteers will be involved in daily sit-ins in the Capitol and teach-ins on the Capitol lawn. Members will be there to tell legislators how important it is to extend tax revenues, to share stories about what budget cuts have done to their neighborhood schools, and to demand action that will help — not hurt — the future of our state. This activity will continue until Friday, May 13, when we will join together in solidarity in six rallies around the state to call for passage of tax extensions.
I invite you to get involved. Be a part of this movement in your local. Talk to your friends, family and neighbors and ask them to join you. Contact your local president to find out how you can help. Visit castateofemergency.com for resources and an opportunity to share ideas. And prominently display your “State of Emergency” window cling that you can find in this magazine. We can’t sit back and let the inaction of our elected officials continue to hurt our students and the future of our state.