By Dina Martin
Gaye Lewis has been “a voting Republican” all her life, and this is the first time she’s been actively involved in an election campaign.
“I love the conversations I’ve been having,” says the president of the Central Unified Teachers Association in Coarsegold, Madera County. “I love explaining where we are coming from and what’s at stake.”
Lewis is happily surprised that her members understand the importance of this election.
“Proposition 32 is critical. I go to school sites and hold 10-minute meetings. I’m talking to everyone. Our members want to vote no on 32,” she said. “Our teachers have seen what happens when the school board makes a financial decision that is going to impact the classroom, so we’re actively recruiting education-friendly candidates to run for school board in 2014. But if Prop. 32 passes, we won’t be able to do that.”
Lewis says the CTA-supported Proposition 30 funding initiative is a tougher sell in some of the more conservative anti-tax Central Valley school districts and towns. Until recently, Central Unified hasn’t been hard hit by budget cuts, though Lewis is concerned about next year’s budget – and the years after. Still, she notes, Prop. 30 has received the support of the school district.
Lewis has learned a lot talking about these issues, but there’s one lesson that she’s particularly taken in: “Sometimes, you feel you don’t make a difference, but you know what? We do. We do make a difference.”