Author Philip Dray chosen as guest speaker for fall conference
By Michael Smith, CCA Communications Director
Our spring CCA Conference featured a new kind of session: The CCA Book Club. The activity spurred much-needed open, professional dialogue between members about who we are, as an association, and what we want to be.
Strengthening our culture
Our purpose was not to make decisions on the spot, and not to draw up policy statements. Not to draft legislation on the spot, and not to sketch flow charts. And certainly not to cobble together slogans or logos. The purpose of The CCA Book Club is definitely not to encourage “quick fix” scenarios. Instead, we want to reconnect, remind, rediscover, and strengthen CCA at every level by progressively strengthening our own culture, beginning with our chapters. The spring session was our first step.
The debut of the CCA Book Club was hosted by two insightful history professors from CCA ranks, Ed Gomez of San Bernardino Valley College and Dorothy Reina of Riverside Community College, who were spectacular, as well as CCA Communication Committee members Elizabeth Maloney and me, with CCA Vice President Lynette Nyaggah also in attendance.
Discussion was not herded or guided by leadership. Rather, it was sparked and developed by rank-and-file members who had read some or all of independent historian Philip Dray’s There Is Power in a Union: The Epic Story of Labor in America (Doubleday, 2010). Dray’s book tells, like no other, the entire brilliant, moving, tragic, uplifting, and open-ended story of workers in America—their unions and associations, their heroes and villains, their joys and defeats. It’s our American history. And it’s a living history.
It was an important moment for CCA.
Guest speaker in the fall
And there will be more. Your CCA Communications Committee has worked with the CCA Officers and Board, as well as with CTA, and we are thrilled to announce Philip Dray will be a guest speaker at the CCA Fall Conference. What’s more, he’ll participate in a Q & A afterwards.
I don’t need to catalog the contemporary forces pushing against us, both as educators and as CCA members. We live the daily truth of it in classrooms, meetings, and conversations, often saturated by ignorant media or adversarial talking points. We look at Wisconsin, and we know we’re talking about survival.
We believe the best way to help ourselves become better educators and better members is a deeper understanding of our problems and the possible solutions. And we believe the path forward must be determined collectively.
We must be informed and intelligent in our actions, for that is our professional charge; therefore, we propose to read about the history of and connections between American unions and the American middle class. We intend to talk about these stories, to weave our own stories into this honorable American tapestry, and from these discussions contribute to the success of not only CCA, but of public higher education in California.
Indeed, the debut of the CCA Book Club was a lively exchange of ideas between working friends. Every CCA member left the room energized and smiling. That’s exactly what I hope our collective future looks like.
Note: Suggestions for next year’s American union-themed book are most welcome. Please send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.