CCA/CTA will be there
By Lynette Nyaggah CCA President
As I write my first Advocate column as CCA president, I am contemplating our past and our future. This year CTA celebrates its 150th anniversary as an advocacy organization for our profession, our students, and public education. Directly related to us is CTA’s involvement in establishing California’s system of community colleges in 1911.
I’m thinking about the influences our teachers have had on us. I remember my 6th grade teacher, Mr. Winters, a gentle, smiling man who clearly loved his job and inspired us to learn. In my first public writing exercise, I submitted a piece about him called “Why my teacher is a peach” to the San Mateo Times. My inspiration was the comic strip “Miss Peach” that featured the goings-on in a classroom. (By the 1990s, incidentally, the Women’s Movement caught up to the cartoonist and the title character became “Ms. Peach”.) In high school, I took my inspiration from my Latin teacher, Mr. Leddy, who would digress from his lesson plan in order to lead a discussion of his beloved Pax Romana. I also have fond memories of my first linguistics professor at U.C. Berkeley, William S.-Y. Wang, an accomplished linguist of the Chinese languages, who came to class in cowboy boots and had fun with students who were having their first experience with the mind-twisting nature of my chosen field.
It’s these kinds of experiences that motivated many of us to go into teaching, and we want to do the same for our students. We love seeing students’ eyes light up when they “get it.” We want to make a difference in their lives. This is why I’m proud to be CCA president. Working with you – community college professors – is the second-best job in the world. The best job in the world is the one you do every day – teaching our wonderful community college students.
CTA and CCA have had many milestones during that 150-year history. I won’t dwell on the victory that prohibited schools from firing female teachers who got married, but it shows how far we’ve come. Collective bargaining, something we take for granted today, was a huge step when it was signed into law in 1975. Before that, we could only “collectively beg” for our contract. My father once told me that in his first few years of teaching, the high school district notified his best friend not to come back the following year. It turned out, however, that the superintendent had mixed him up with someone else and had fired the wrong person. Because of our due process rights, that cannot happen now.
One of CTA’s most revolutionary feats was the passage of Proposition 98 in 1988, which provides grades K-14 a minimum funding guarantee from the state. While budget cuts have taken their toll over the past few years, Prop. 98 consistently saved our schools and colleges from a much worse fate.
And just last year thousands of our faculty and students held rallies, phone banked, walked precincts and wrote letters and op-ed pieces in support of Proposition 30. For the first time in our history, CCA had a unified student voter-registration campaign, and we won with unexpected turnout! As a result, Prop. 30 prevented $6 billion in budget cuts to our schools and colleges this year, and will continue to provide $47 billion over the next seven years.
Change and renewal
We continue to look forward to change and renewal. CCA and CTA are engaged in Strategic Planning processes that promise to re-examine the way we do things and involve our members in the decision-making every step of the way. We want to make sure we focus on how we can best serve our members. To that end, CCA will be revamping our website at www.cca4me.org, invigorating our blog, ramping up our Facebook posts and twitter feeds, and engaging in more active communication with you on the things that matter. Expect to see those changes in the next few months.
I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve as your president and I look forward to working with you and visiting your chapters.
I promise to do my best to build leadership within CCA and constructive relationships with both CTA and our brothers and sisters in other community college faculty organizations. We have already started doing this in our legislative coalitions with California Federation of Teachers, the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges, the California Community College Independents and the Academic Senate. I will keep you posted on what we accomplish. I believe that by working together we can build a more powerful organization, and with your help, I plan to do just that.