Gov. Brown greets Mikki Cichocki-Semo, Carolyn Doggett
“Instead of arming teachers, California needs more school counselors, more access for students to mental health services, safer facilities, and more training for educators to spot the mental health needs of students and bullying or other high-risk behaviors.” So said CTA President Dean E. Vogel after delegates passed a new business item to oppose any efforts to arm educators across the state.
Taking a stand to make California’s public schools safer and even more secure, the State Council of Education voted to oppose the arming of non-law-enforcement educators and volunteers, and to support Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s legislation to ban military-style assault weapons.
The positions, made with the safety of students and all school stakeholders in mind, were voted on by the 760 delegates attending State Council in Los Angeles last month.
Noting that California ranks last in the nation in the number of counselors per student, Vogel said, “I welcome debates not about guns, but about what it takes to make sure our students’ physical and emotional needs are met so they can be successful academically and in life.”
Delegates also voted to endorse a National Resolution on High-Stakes Testing, noting the growing amounts of time, money and energy spent on high-stakes standardized testing do little to enhance teaching. Some delegates voiced concern about issues like narrowing of curriculum, teaching to the test, pushing students out of school, and pressure from administrators for high test scores.
Discussing and voting on these actions, plus a surprise visit from Gov. Jerry Brown and hours of committee work on a variety of education issues, kept delegates busy all weekend.
Gov. Brown thanked CTA delegates and members, not only for their work in the election, but for making a difference in the daily lives of students.
“It’s the spark, the fire you light in students, that makes a difference. It’s not the program sent to you by some national publishing company that’s going to make the difference. As a teacher, you have a lifelong impact on your students.”
Celebrating election victories
CTA members were successful in every proposition and measure CTA supported or opposed in the last election. The hard work of members, partners and volunteers was celebrated, especially the victories around Propositions 30 and 32.
“We sent a clear message to corporate billionaires ... that they weren’t as special as they thought,” said Vogel.
There was much discussion about the revenue that will be gained over the next seven years from the passage of Prop. 30.
“Prop. 30 certainly doesn’t solve all our funding problems, but it’s a great first step,” Vogel said. “It makes all the rallies and protests worth it. It shows what we can accomplish together. And now the Legislature can begin paying back the money owed to public education.”
That’s exactly what the state budget Gov. Brown proposed does, he added. The governor also wants to revamp California’s K-12 funding system. Under what he’s calling a “local control formula,” most categorical programs would be eliminated, and that money would be consolidated into a base grant based on Average Daily Attendance.
Additional grants would be offered based on the number of English learners and economically disadvantaged students. This new formula would be phased in over seven years, but at present it’s not clear how that phase-in would work.
“It’s important to remember, however, that this is still just a proposal, and we’ll be analyzing it more closely,” he noted. “The Financing Public Education Committee has a lot to talk about.”
Celebrating CTA’s past and future
Delegates learned about CTA’s history as plans for the sesquicentennial (pronounced ses-kwi-sen-ten-ee-uhl) were rolled out. CTA was instrumental in major changes in California back in the day:
• Women had to quit teaching if they became married.
• Nonwhite students didn't have the same access to a quality education as their white peers.
• Educators did not have the ability to bargain collectively.
For more on CTA’s 150th anniversary, go to www.cta.org/150.
Each of the 22 State Council committees participated in discussions and work on CTA’s strategic planning. “We're coming off a great election, but we can’t rest there. We must continue to build for the future,” Vogel said. “We want to ensure we are not only talking to ourselves, but also hearing from other partners about public education and how they view CTA.”
Watch a video about members like high school teacher Dominic Dirkson discussing the planning: www.cta.org/talkaboutplanning.
All members and staff will have opportunities to participate in the strategic planning process.