By Dina Martin and Cynthia Menzel
California Teachers of the Year Angelo Bracco, Jessica Pack, Michael Hayden, Linda Horist, Timothy Smith
Common Core. School funding. Testing. Layoff procedures. Budgets and accountability plans. Mandatory kindergarten. Evaluation. College student debt. Those are just a few of the issues addressed by the 760-plus delegates to CTA’s State Council of Education in March (as well as evacuation procedures after the magnitude 5.1 earthquake that rocked the Bonaventure Hotel Friday night, followed by a lesser aftershock during committee meetings the next day).
CTA President Dean E. Vogel facilitated sometimes lively debate on a myriad of education issues at State Council.
The bulk of delegates’ time on the Council floor was spent deliberating legislative issues, such as the need for more school nurses, nonmedical staff administering epinephrine to students, and granting educators a right to a leave under the California Family Rights Act. Council took positions on 117 of the 157 pieces of legislation considered. Details can be found at cta.org/legislation.
A forum on Common Core State Standards gave members an opportunity to share their opinions. “What happens when you race? You’re only focused on getting to the finish line,” Vogel said, noting concern about the implementation of the standards, which has been uneven in districts around the state. In kicking off the forum, he stressed that the state must “get the implementation of the standards right, and we must separate standards from the testing.”
During his update on CTA actions, CTA Executive Director Joe Nuñez talked about the California Office to Reform Education (CORE) waiver, a private education consulting firm’s scheme that waives ESEA requirements for eight school districts. Despite CORE having absolutely no input from educators, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan approved a one-year waiver, setting up a “shadow” department of education in California.
CORE promises that the districts will create and follow a new accountability system, will create new teacher evaluation systems tied to test scores, and will close failing schools or turn them into charters. Nuñez noted that it seems there’s been a lot of misinformation.
“It appears most of the superintendents and school boards don’t even know what they signed. The local chapters — many of the presidents are here today — have been coordinating strategies with CTA, organizing and pushing back.”
Delegates voted on recommended candidates in the June primary and November election. Council reaffirmed its support for state Superintendent Tom Torlakson, who is battling investment banker Marshall Tuck, a candidate backed by wealthy school privatizers and Michelle Rhee. Torlakson, a “lifelong educator” and author of the Quality Education Investment Act, supports learning over testing and opposes evaluating teachers based on test scores, delegates said.
On Sunday, CTA honored Janet Eberhardt, United Educators of San Francisco, who accepted the newly named Paula Monroe ESP of the Year Award on behalf of all education support professionals who dedicate their life to children and family. “My job gives me the platform to do what I love with purpose and focus. I’m a child advocate.”
And California’s nominee for National Teacher of the Year, Timothy Smith, thanked delegates for being the voice of teachers in California. “You are the rallying cry, the stalwart protection for every teacher, union or not,” said the Elk Grove Education Association member. “You are the last line of defense that enables us to teach each day without making ourselves sick. You are the heroes.”
For more information, talk to your delegate or go to cta.org/statecouncil.
In other actions, Council:
Honored National ESP of the Year Paula Monroe and CTA ESP of the Year Janet Eberhardt.
Honored the 2014 California Teachers of the Year: Timothy Smith, Elk Grove Education Association, California’s nominee for National Teacher of the Year; Angelo “Ang” Bracco, Vallejo Education Association; Michael Hayden, Manhattan Beach Unified Teachers Association; Linda Horist, Orange Unified Education Association; and Jessica Pack, Palm Springs Teachers Association.
Re-elected CTA Board members E. Toby Boyd (District E), George Melendez (District H), Michael Stone (District N) and Marty Meeden (At-large), and elected Sonia Martin-Solis (CTA/NEA Coordinating Director).
Re-elected CTA/ABC Committee members Clete Bradford (District G), Karen R. Schuett (District H) and Christopher Bushée (District I), and elected Brannin Dorsey (District B), Joe Bartell (District M) and Amy Hall (District O).
Elected NEA Directors Bill Freeman (District 10) and Bill Sammons (District 12).
Recommended Princess Moss for NEA Secretary-Treasurer.
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