CTA President Dean E. Vogel
California’s high school graduation rate is at a record high, the first tax increase for education in 20 years is starting to provide new school funding, layoffs have been stemmed this year, and we have eliminated all high-stakes decisions based on standardized tests for three years while we’re working to implement the Common Core State Standards. In addition, with the enactment of California’s landmark Local Control Funding Formula, we have made a major change in the way schools are funded — the first such change in 40 years.
Yes, I believe that California schools are moving in the right direction.
As teachers, we are always out to improve what we do. Just look at the creative teaching practices of all your colleagues who are featured in this special issue on the Common Core. We are doing incredible stuff to enhance what we do. But our ideas for improving public education remain profoundly different from those of the wealthy corporate reformers who believe schools should be run like businesses.
Thankfully, due to CTA’s hard work in electing public officials like Governor Jerry Brown and state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, California has resisted these dangerous ideas and is instead implementing real reforms that include providing adequate resources, implementing commonsense state standards, and bringing back local control of funding to school districts. There are challenges, of course, but you can be sure that we will have a role in how it happens, in part because we have the support of both Governor Brown and Superintendent Torlakson. That’s why it is so important that we turn out the vote for Tom Torlakson, who faces a tough race against a candidate backed by wealthy school privatizers. And with a low turnout expected, our votes could carry much more weight.
Please take the time to vote. Our votes are so important. As an organization, we’ve fought against all attempts to deprive underrepresented communities and women of the right to vote. Just this month, we reaffirmed that belief. We are committed to voters’ rights, civil rights, and social justice organizations. And that means we must exercise our right to vote. We can’t just talk about it. We must do it. Vote!
As we celebrate California Day of the Teacher and Education Support Professionals Day this month, I want to thank you for your commitment to California’s 9 million students in kindergarten through college. I want to thank our veteran teachers who believe teaching is important enough that they’ve stayed in the profession. Thank you to new teachers who are coming into the profession for the first time, despite the steep learning curve and financial insecurities ahead. Thank you to the education support professionals who, despite challenging pay and working conditions, are so important to the success of our schools.
This year’s Day of the Teacher theme is “California Teachers: Inspiring our Students, Strengthening our Communities.” Its purpose is to remind us all that teachers have a natural role in the welfare of our communities.
I know many of you are already actively involved in your communities, but it is my hope that your chapters also reach out to engage parents, volunteers, older adults, business owners, houses of faith, and community organizations. Invite them into your classroom to read a book, provide them with volunteer opportunities, let them know how they can support their local schools. This makes sense in so many ways. It not only builds beneficial partnerships, it gives us recognition as part of our communities and helps us grow our constituencies. As educators, we don’t just impact our students, we impact our communities.
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