One of 21 CCA members in policy-making body
CCA is not only a leading voice for community college faculty on campus, it also is making its presence felt within the State Council of Education, the policy-making body of the California Teachers Association.
That presence includes the recent election of adjunct faculty Linda Chan to chair the State Council’s School Safety/School Management Committee, one of 21 committees that makes CTA policy on everything from curriculum to financing public education. Chan, who teaches math and astronomy at Mt. San Antonio College, Citrus, and Pasadena City College (and was recently appointed as CCA’s ‘official photographer’) is one of two higher ed members to serve as chair of a committee. Serving as chair of the Civil Rights in Education committee chair is Gilda Bloom, an NEA director from California representing higher education. Chan is one of 21 elected CCA delegates to attend the quarterly meetings of State Council.
Willful defiance bill
In recent months, Chan and Bloom have come together to work on language that would enable both Council committees to support AB 420, a bill that would make sure that elementary school students can’t be suspended or expelled for the vague reason of “willful defiance,” which has disproportionately affected students of color. Although educators are in agreement that steps must be taken to reduce the excessive suspensions, teachers are also concerned about their safety and the safety of their students in the classroom.
“The School Safety Committee has taken a ‘watch’ position on the legislation until we are assured that there will be funding and programs in place that offer an alternative to suspensions. There will be more bills coming on this topic and we have to make sure students and teachers are safe,” Chan said.
From a community college perspective, Chan is aware that “whatever happens in K-12 eventually will come to the community colleges,” and that the earlier positive intervention takes place, the better. Community college instructors don’t always have the ability or the time to deal with student disciplinary problems. Nor should they since the majority of students attending community colleges are adults and are expected to behave as such.
Votes on policy
As a delegate, however, Chan votes on all proposals that come before Council, whether it is to support candidates for public office or to denounce the Vergara v. State of California lawsuit attacking educators’ professional and due process rights, as Council did at its meeting in January.
To be sure, Chan says she has had an education in policy-making in her two years as a State Council delegate.
“Each committee within State Council looks at specific legislative bills, and when we vote on them, we can actually move the state to create better legislation for education,” she said. “Since we are educating the state’s students, we need to have effective legislation to support students, faculty and education support professionals (ESP).”
With 760 elected delegates representing K-12, higher ed and education support professionals,, the quarterly meeting of CTA’s State Council of Education can be a real exercise in democracy. Many participants, like Chan, are amazed at the work that gets done.
“When I was first elected to Council, I was overwhelmed at how many people are involved, and I had no idea how important that decision-making process is,” she said. “Having seen it in action, I encourage everyone to be involved with Council by running for election and in contacting their Council members with specific issues.”
Chan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.