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Major Events: Korean War, Rock and Roll (Elvis Presley) hits TV, Sputnik, Why Johnny Can’t Read, AFL merged with Congress of Industrial Organizations to form AFL-CIO, Civil Rights Movement, segregation and integration, polio vaccine, beatnik generation, advent of television.

  • CTA service model was divided into powerful Sections
  • Southern Section had strong member benefits program w/retirement homes in Santa Barbara, Pasadena and elsewhere.
  • PSO Staff Union was formed (renamed later California Staff Organization, CSO).
  • 1954 – Brown vs. Board of Education U.S. Supreme Court ruling

Listen to Highlight Stories of the 1950's



Dorothy Moser began teaching in 1951, was on the CTA Board of Directors and played a role in the merger that created UTLA.


Major Events: March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, civil rights laws, school busing, Watts riots, UFW grape strikes, Vietnam War, California becomes most populous state, space program, hippies/drug culture, President Kennedy assassination, Cuba under Castro, nuclear standoff.

  • CTA sponsors African Heritage Study Tour
  • 1965 Winton Act (meet and confer) passed, school boards still have final say
  • 1967 CTA establishes schools for children of migrant workers and leads the authorization of bilingual instruction classes for English learners
  • Cambrian Faculty Association (in San Jose) was first chapter to get involved in a school board election
  • 1969 CTA/LA and UTLA merge: First merged AFT/NEA local in state

Listen to Highlight Stories of the 1960's



Jean Reiche taught from 1965-89, when she retired. The ex-president of the Santa Barbara Teachers Association now lives in Vista Del Monte, a retirement facility in Santa Barbara that the CTA Southern Section built and once owned exclusively for educators in the 1960s. She chose to live there because of the facility’s past CTA roots as an affordable haven for retired educators.




Major Events: Vietnam War ends, US Department of Education established, affirmative action, Middle East crisis in Iran, Gasoline/Oil crisis, first microprocessor, bell bottom pants, CAL/OSHA created, Watergate, Richard Nixon resigns.

  • Service Center 1 (the first SCC) is established in Region 3. Served Chino, Ontario areas.
  • 1971 CTA adopts unified dues, becomes thoroughly integrated organization with one governance structure and one staff.
  • 1975 Rodda Act granted collective bargaining rights to K-14 employees. Became effective January 1, 1976. ( In 1977, virtually every chapter files for CTA recognition as the exclusive representative).
  • 1978 Jerry Brown signed the Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act.
  • 1978 Prop 13 passed eliminating local control of school funding and also adds 2/3 super-majority to pass taxes. CTA opposes.

Listen to Highlight Stories of the 1970's



Field staff member Jim Essman worked for CTA from 1970 to 2004, when he retired. He recalls working two labor showdowns in 1975 – before the state’s collective bargaining law was in effect – when educators in two San Jose school districts, Mt. Pleasant and Berryessa, went on successful strikes simultaneously over maternity rights. He also talks about the need for CTA to organize, and to keep recruiting new leaders and staff to keep the union’s good work rolling on.




Gary Harrison left his mark on CTA Central Valley labor history. A teacher activist for many years in Hanford in Kings County, he joined CTA field staff in 1969 and recalls working two major strikes in the 1970s – in San Juan Unified School District in Sacramento County, and in Bakersfield City School District. He retired in 2000 as manager of CTA’s Region 2 (covering mostly the Central Valley area) and now lives in an assisted living retirement community in Fresno.




Thousands of educators statewide chose CTA as their exclusive bargaining unit representative during elections held during the pivotal 1975-78 presidency years of Stephen Edwards Jr., 88. This dedicated teacher also inspired his daughter Christina to embark on a 36-year teaching career in public schools; she retired in 2012.




Major Events: Air traffic controller strike (PATCO), computer science advances, fall of Berlin Wall, Cold War ends, AIDS, Apartheid in South Africa ends, Chernobyl Nuclear Plant disaster, boom boxes, John Lennon assassinated.

  • 1982 First Para Educator Contract bargained in San Diego Unified.
  • 1983 Passage of SB 813 which provided revenues through equalization and new categorical programs, more rigorous graduation requirements, longer school day and year, higher beginning salaries and added statewide curriculum standards.
  • 1988 CTA passes Proposition 98 guaranteeing K-14 schools and community colleges 40% of state revenues. Establishes CTA as a major political force.

Major Strikes: Successful 1989 UTLA Strike (9 days) lead by UTLA President Wayne Johnson.

Listen to Highlight Stories of the 1980's



Ed Foglia was CTA president in 1988 when educators mobilized statewide to pass the landmark Proposition 98 ballot measure, which guarantees K-12 schools and community colleges at least 40 percent of state revenues. The victory affirmed CTA as a major political force for students and the teaching profession.




UTLA President Wayne Johnson led successful 1989 UTLA Strike (9 days) involving thousands of LAUSD educators.




After the 1989 mass shooting at Cleveland Elementary in Stockton, Ed Foglia, CTA president at the time, recalls how CTA fought for and won tougher gun control laws in California.




Marilyn Russell Bittle was the first woman CTA president under the newly unified CTA, serving 1982-86. She was involved in several Southern California strikes and helped create the union’s crisis assistance program for chapters facing labor conflicts. After a career that also included serving as CTA vice president from 1978-82, and 15 years as executive director of Teachers Association of Long Beach, she retired in 2002.



Major Events: First Gulf War, Rodney King riots in Los Angeles, Columbine School massacre, Soviet Union ends, stock market triples, Oklahoma Federal Building bombing, Northridge earthquake, President Clinton budget surplus, cell phones, video games.

  • 1993 CTA defeats Proposition 174 (Voucher Initiative)
  • 1995 CTA wins Class Size Reduction Law, 30,000 teachers hired as a result. Carolyn Doggett becomes Executive Director
  • 1998 CTA defeats Proposition 226 “Paycheck Deception Act”, wins passage of statewide school bond
  • Lois Tinson is first person of color elected president of CTA
  • First CTA charter school organized, in San Diego.

Major Strikes: San Diego (2nd strike)

Listen to Highlight Stories of the 1990's



Lois Tinson was CTA’s first ethnic minority president and served 1995-99. A gifted educator, Lois died in December 2003 after a long illness. In these interviews for the union’s “Journey to Respect” history video, she recalled CTA’s activism and our fight for smaller class sizes that convinced Governor Pete Wilson to sign the Class Size Reduction Program legislation in 1996.



Major Events: 2003 recall of Governor Gray Davis, Arnold Schwarzenegger becomes governor, U.S. invades Iraq, stock market crashes and US enters recession, Afghanistan War, climate change awareness, hybrid and electric cars, drones, Facebook, texting, Mars rover Mission, Euro, Fidel Castro resigns due to health, same sex marriage, gas prices sky-rocket, Iran Nuclear Program, September 11th terrorist attack, first African American President, Newtown CT massacre, Michael Jackson dies, Jerry Brown elected governor.

  • 2000 CTA defeats second voucher initiative, Prop. 38
  • Statewide school bonds pass (2002, 2003, 2006) to generate $36 billion for schools
  • 2005 Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declares war on teachers, nurses, police officers and organized labor. His Propositions 74, 75 and 76 are defeated in special election

  • THE EDUCATION RECESSION HITS:
  • 2008 11,000 pink slips given to teachers – “Cuts Hurt Bus Tour”
  • 2009 27,000 pink slips given to teachers – “Pink Friday Statewide Day of Action”
  • 2010 CTA fought to elect Jerry Brown governor, despite Meg Whitman spending $150 million of her own money.
  • 2012 Against great odds, Prop 30 passed and Prop 32 was defeated

Listen to Highlight Stories of the 2000's



Paula Monroe recalls the historic 2006 CTA State Council vote to give full membership rights to Education Support Professionals, adding 5,000 paraprofessionals, office workers, custodians, and other ESPs to CTA family.




Barbara Kerr, CTA president from 2003-2007, recalls showdowns with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, defeat of his Props. 74, 75 and 76 in 2005, and the CTA lawsuit victory to recover billions owed to schools that led to creation of our landmark QEIA reform law for at-risk students.




As CTA president from 1999-2003, Wayne Johnson vividly remembers how CTA negotiated $1.84 billion in state budget surplus funding for education, and soundly defeated Tim Draper’s voucher initiative, Proposition 38. His strong union values were forged, in part, as a youth walking UAW strike picket lines with his father in the 1940s in Kansas City, Missouri.




David Sanchez served as the first Latino president of CTA from 2007-2011 during the Great Recession and massive school layoffs and funding cuts. He recalls how CTA members fought back with statewide campaigns called “Pink Friday” and “State of Emergency” – the latter 2011 effort including his arrest for civil disobedience in Sacramento, along with other educators. He recounts how educators helped elect Jerry Brown governor in 2010 despite Meg Whitman spending $150 million of her own money to oppose him.



Every child deserves a chance to learn and no child succeeds alone.

© 1999- California Teachers Association