by Sherry Posnick-Goodwin
In 2005, voters defeated a “paycheck protection” initiative, an attack on due process for teachers, and an effort to repeal Proposition 98, which guarantees a minimum funding level for schools. CTA didn’t win these battles alone; victory was the result of coalition building with other unions and community organizations working together for the common good.
CTA’s strong ties to labor, community, other education and parent groups, and social justice organizations continue, and strong partnerships will be urgently needed next November as paycheck protection and tax fairness initiatives appear on the ballot.
Massive community outreach is not just for emergencies — it’s the way that CTA operates.
“We are always better working together than alone,” says CTA President Dean Vogel. “Partnerships are about relationships. Partnerships are inclusive. They allow us to share resources and develop joint projects to improve education.”
CTA’s willingness to work with others — including administrators, parents and community members — can be seen in the many partnerships cultivated with other organizations.
Oakland “manufacturing academy” created through CTA partnership
CTA has been involved in an exciting partnership that will culminate in the opening of a school in Oakland that will teach students important skills they will need for the workforce.
CTA is a member of the Bay Area Manufacturing Renaissance Council (BAMRC), consisting of the Manufacturing Institute, the California Labor Federation, California Space Authority, the National Institute for Metalworking Skills, and the California Manufacturing and Technology Association. After several years of planning, Bay Area Workforce Funding Collaborative facilitated a grant for $180,000 to Laney College for the purpose of preparing high school and postsecondary students for skilled careers in manufacturing.
California has the largest manufacturing workforce of any state, and increasing jobs in this field is a way of maintaining the middle class and reviving the economy, says CTA Vice President Eric Heins, who has been involved with the project. The grant will be used to create a manufacturing “academy” at McClymonds High School in Oakland, with “dual enrollment” for students at nearby Laney College. Set to start in the spring, the program is designed to strengthen the local East Bay economy, increase partnerships between the public and private sectors, and prepare students for the future.
The BAMRC is based on a similar council in Chicago that in 2007 founded the successful Austin Polytechnical Academy, which has partnered with more than 60 local manufacturing companies that commit time and resources to help students graduate with real-world skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the 21st century global economy.
“We see this program, made possible through partnerships, as a way of bringing hope and prosperity back to the community,” says Heins. “This is only in the beginning stages, but I am very excited to see where this will lead us.”
Examples of CTA partnerships
CTA has a long history of working in partnership with others, including administrators, parents and community members. CTA’s partnerships include:
The Education Coalition, which represents more than 2.5 million parents, teachers, board members, school employees and administrators. Coalition members have worked together for many years to protect schools from cuts and protect school funding. In addition to CTA, coalition members include the California State PTA, the Association of California School Administrators, the California Association of School business Officials, the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association, the California Federation of Teachers, the California School Boards Association, and the California School Employees Association.
The Equal Justice Society, which CTA has collaborated with to study racial bias in the classroom and its impact on student achievement. CTA’s Human Rights Department, the Davis Teachers Association and the Davis Joint Unified District piloted a project with the help of EJS to make school staff aware of personal bias and how it might affect the achievement of students.
The Industrial Areas Foundation, a network of labor, homeowner, immigrant and faith-based organizations dedicated to equity, justice and social change, has a long history of working with CTA on socially progressive issues. IAF is presently working with several CTA chapters, including Associated Pomona Teachers, on clearing up “myths” surrounding pension issues and the importance of adequately funding public education. The IAF has also been involved in the CTA Institute for Teaching’s Algebra Twin Rivers Project dedicated to improving math skills of poor and minority students.
The California Endowment, a private, statewide health foundation dedicated to expanding access to affordable, quality health care for underserved individuals and communities, provided CTA with two years of funding — $180,000 — for its Boys and Men of Color Program, which provides mentoring and academic field trips for black and Latino male students. It also funded the Teachers for Healthy Kids campaign in which teachers referred parents to low-cost or no-cost health insurance programs for students and family members. In recognition that the health of California’s students is vital to their academic achievement, CTA is joining with The California Endowment to urge that school districts be proactive in considering how their policies and practices affect both the physical and emotional health of students. This might include creating School Wellness Councils that engage parents, students, educators, business leaders and others in working together to develop the best strategies for creating healthier schools.
Progressive Convening, a series of meetings in which CTA has joined forces with approximately 150 progressive activists from more than 40 organizations to share ideas and discuss important social issues. Participants include representatives from labor and community groups working on behalf of the middle class. Co-organizing the meetings is the Courage Campaign, an online organizing network that empowers more than 750,000 activists to push for progressive change and full equality in California and across the country. The goal is to provide a safe, neutral setting for open discussion and consideration, which can lead to action that will build a better California. CTA members and others who participate in Progressive Convening sessions on a regular basis met with members of the Obama administration at the White House last September to discuss important social issues including education. CTA headquarters in Burlingame recently hosted a “convening” for progressive activists to engage in open dialogue about upcoming ballot measures such as “paycheck protection,” in an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect.
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