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Talking Points

Theme: Honoring our past, guiding the future

CTA turns 150. A look back.

Thursday, May 9, 2013, marks the 150th anniversary of the California Teachers Association. In the same year (1863) Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, John Swett founded the California Educational Society, which later became the California Teachers Association.

Since its inception in 1863, CTA has been at the forefront of every major victory for California’s public schools and colleges. Did you know that: (choose as many to share as you like)

  • In 1866, CTA secured funding to establish free public schools for all children in California. 
  • In 1895, CTA sponsored the first class size legislation, setting the maximum class size at 80 students.
  • In 1911, CTA led the fight to establish community colleges.
  • In 1913, California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) was created by legislation following CTA State Council’s call for a statewide teacher pension system in 1910.
  • In 1927, CTA won a major legal victory when the state Supreme Court ruled that a school board couldn’t fire a female teacher simply because she got married.
  • In the 1940s, CTA emerged as one of the few “mainstream” organization in California to protest against the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.
  • In 1967, CTA established schools for children of migrant workers, and led the authorization of bilingual instruction classes for English learners.
  • In 1975, the Legislature passed the CTA-sponsored Rodda Act, making K-14 school employees the first public employees in California to win collective bargaining rights.
  • In 1988, CTA drafted and won passage of Proposition 98, the minimum funding guarantee for K-14 schools. The passage of Prop. 98 firmly established CTA as a political force to be reckoned with.
  • In 2005, CTA members led a broad coalition effort to defeat Governor Schwarzenegger’s slate of initiatives that would have cut school funding, destroyed teachers’ due process rights and silenced the voices of public employees. The following year CTA won a major Prop. 98 lawsuit against the state and created the Quality Education Investment Act, which used the settlement to fund proven reforms at lower-performing schools.
  • In 2011, CTA held a week of demonstrations over budget cuts all over the state. The action culminated in the arrest of some 50 activists in the state Capitol.
  • And in 2012, CTA was instrumental in the passage of Prop. 30, preventing $6 billion in cuts to schools, and for the third time defeated an onerous “paycheck deception” initiative.

California educators have a lot to be proud of. For 150 years, with the help of their union, teachers have helped make sure all students have an opportunity for a quality public education. And we continue to do so today.

Teacher-led change is guiding the future.

Educators in California are leading reform efforts with proven results. As classroom experts, teachers know firsthand what works. That’s why the California Teachers Association has been championing proven reforms for all students, especially those that are struggling.

Through its internationally recognized and innovative Quality Education Investment Act, CTA is leading efforts to make sure at-risk students get the resources they need to succeed. QEIA uses research-based reforms like smaller class sizes, more counselors and better teacher training. The program’s success can be seen in communities all across California as it helps close the achievement gap for many lower-income students.

Under the umbrella of the CTA Foundation for Teacher and Learning, the Institute for Teaching is an incubator for educational innovation. Through its successful grants, teachers are able to propose and lead change based on what is working in their classrooms.

After years of effort, CTA members have created a framework for fair teacher evaluation that puts the emphasis on constructive reform, not punishment. Our framework centers on the underlying principle that the goal of any evaluation system is to strengthen the knowledge, skills and practices of teachers to improve student learning.

In its latest endeavor to help guide the future, CTA has embarked upon a strategic long-term planning process. The goal of the process — whose theme is “Your Voice. Our Union. Our Future” — is to make sure CTA is positioned in the best possible way to help all students and educators succeed. In order to accomplish this goal, CTA will rely on the people who know the organization best: the members and the staff.

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

© 1999- California Teachers Association