Vice President Eric Heins on a Bay Area commuter train
School children and public schools were winners in the 2012 election, thanks to CTA members and partners. “Because of your hard work, we achieved a monumental victory for our students,” says CTA President Dean Vogel. “Thank you for playing a pivotal role in this election, making phone calls, ringing doorbells, becoming human billboards, and working with community partners. Most of all, you voted and got your friends to the polls, too.”
Here are just a few of the comments from thousands of CTA activists and allies responsible for the 2012 election victory. Add your comments here by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or leave your thoughts at facebook.com/californiateachersassociation.
Yen Nguyen, Student CTA
“I was more anxious about Propositions 30, 32 and 38 than the presidential election. Propositions 30 and 38 directly affected me and my fellow Student CTA members as students and as future educators. As a Student CTA member, I am proud to say that together, through phone banks, precinct walks, and campus meetings, we organized our peers and fought for our future. With tuition increases every year since I have been enrolled at UC Davis, another increase would be devastating; however, through the passage of Prop. 30, I can rest easier knowing that Californian voters support their students.”
Dana Dillon, CTA Board member
“The engagement of our members was unprecedented. The efforts we made in teaching each and every one of our members were phenomenal. Thanks to releasing some of our members to work on the campaign fulltime and strong leadership, we were able to be successful. People worked every day and all day long on this campaign. They went above and beyond. We have never put so much money and effort into reaching every member one-on-one. We should be so damn proud.”
Jeff Johnston, President, Lodi Education Association
Jeff Johnston’s reaction to CTA’s election victory was somewhere in between breathing a sigh of relief and dancing in the streets. Perhaps it was a little of both, since he didn’t hear the results until he got up in the middle of the night to feed one of his triplets.
“This was just such a relief. Passing Prop. 30 means we will at least maintain and begin to restore instruction days. Our kids have already taken a huge hit with the elimination of five instruction days, and our teachers have had an additional two and a half non-instruction days. Knowing we’re not going to lose any more is huge.”
Johnston acknowledged that the campaign leading up to election night was grueling. He had made over 30 site visits to schools in the district, and his colleagues invested time and energy into educating members on what was at stake.
“It was important to get out to the classrooms and to share what Proposition 30’s failure would mean to teachers and their students,” he says. “They got the literature and they used social media, but it wasn’t the same as having someone sit down with you and talk about it.”
Although the emphasis in the campaign was to engage members, Johnston says, connections to other labor and community organizations were made. They even did some community outreach at the annual street fair where they found they had a table right next to the local Tea Party, which was distributing “No on 30” and “Yes on 32” literature.
“It gave the public a chance to see democracy in action,” he says.
Toby Boyd, CTA Board member
“I felt we had a great chance of fighting Prop. 32 when we joined together with other unions. It’s amazing what you can do when you are working together. We came together with other labor organizations in 2005 to fight Arnold Schwarzenegger’s initiatives, and we are able to build on that instead of having to start from the ground floor. It made things much easier. But we can’t stop here. We have to continue building relationships. We have to make our bonds stronger — so no one will ever pull this again on us.”
Peggy Colwell, Shasta Secondary Education Association
Peggy Colwell is a veteran of many CTA campaigns, but that didn’t lessen her excitement about the outcome of this election.
“We’re so happy! Everything went very well. All the walking, the postcards, the phone banking was worth it. I was crying when I heard the results. We did it!”
Even in a “red” part of the state, Colwell says, voters were angry that so much outside money poured into defeating Prop. 30 and passing Prop. 32.
“I think we framed it correctly. It came down to the billionaires versus the middle class. Voters saw the election like that. Is money going to buy the election? They said no!”
There were other positive benefits to emerge from the long campaign, including the reminder that teachers are respected in their communities.
“This campaign reminded teachers that people do like them. I don’t think they thought that until they started phone banking and got such a positive reception to their calls,” Colwell says.
Colwell was pleased to find so many allies in this campaign, from the support of school district administrators to members of other unions.
“We need to take advantage of this movement. We can still do it better,” she says. “This is an opportunity to get people involved.”
Alen Ritchie, President, CTA/NEA-Retired
“I have been a member of CTA for 52 years, and have never been prouder! The work done on this election by members and staff was nothing short of phenomenal! I would especially like to thank the members of CTA/NEA-Retired for a job well done. Members like Bonnie Shatun in the south and Orval Garrison in the north started working on this election back in June and never stopped. Congratulations to the whole CTA family!”
Don Dawson, CTA Board member
“We rejected the attempts of billionaires to thwart our ability to provide a good public education for our students. Individuals like the Koch brothers have a basic contempt for democracy and think they can buy anything. After tonight, I have faith in the voters of California. They value education. They know we have to invest for our future for our students and our economy. What I have learned from this campaign is that educators need to be advocates beyond the walls of our schools. I also learned that when we go out and talk to members of the community, they want to know what we have to say.”
Joe Paluba, Rialto Education Association
“As a release-time volunteer member for the duration of this campaign, I saw firsthand the good, the bad and the ugly. At times things were tough, but we never doubted nor veered from our course. Thanks to the San Bernardino RRC crew for that! My favorite Campaign 2012 ad was the one featuring Vista Teachers Association member Reagan Duncan. She rocked it and inspired us during the home stretch. I want to help my students learn that together, people can achieve great things. Sí se puede!”
Kat Tijerina-Valencia, parent, Imperial County
Kat Tijerina-Valencia was among many parent partners who assisted in Campaign 2012. “It was great to see our local Imperial teachers working so hard to ensure our children’s success. Their example helped motivate me in my volunteer work for the campaign.”
Marty Meeden, CTA Board member
“We got a lot of new folks energized and I hope the association can sustain that for challenges we know are coming. We persevered. Our members were not deterred by all the negative ads. They understood what was at stake and that we were right. I would also like to commend the CTA staff for being there and going above and beyond.”
Vicki Soderberg, President, Capistrano Unified Education Association
“Capistrano teachers learned a valuable lesson this school board campaign. The community not only respects teachers, but values their opinion. Teachers reported that respondents to phone calls thanked them for their message, and several phone bankers reported that respondents said, ‘I will vote for your candidate because you are the first live voice that I have talked to in this entire campaign!’ Additionally, teachers found out that when they knocked on doors and identified themselves as a teacher in the community, they were warmly received. The CUEA-endorsed candidates were victorious because of our ground game. Never before had we had so many teachers on phone banks, night after night, and never before had we had so many precinct walkers.”
Kevin Thompson, Union District Education Association, San Jose
“It made a huge difference for me to be able to go out and talk to teachers face to face during the campaign. I probably visited 50 schools. Teachers were willing to come and listen and gather together for a common cause to pass Prop. 30 — and to get people to vote for the hopefulness of schools. Schools still hold all the hope for a community, and teachers are the center of that hope. Prop. 32 was going to take away the voice of the middle class. Teachers are the voice of the middle class. We had to defeat this. We could not let the elite take our voice away.”
Dana Johnsen, Oak Grove Education Association, San Jose
“This is a great victory for students. We’ve had our budget cut for the last four or five years. We get less and less money for each kid every year. I teach science, we go through a lot of materials. We just didn’t ever have enough. Dissections? How about four students on one small squid. We can’t afford a cat. With Prop. 30 passing, we will have paper for kids to write on and pencils to give them when they forget their own. We shrink things now so we can fit more copies of articles on a sheet of paper. We shrink things.”
KC Walsh, CTA Board member
“I’m thrilled that all our hard work paid off. The people of CTA saw through the lies. I think CTA put its money where its mouth is. We should all be proud of what we accomplished.”
Relena Ellis, Oakland Education Association
“We were so excited and so delighted because we worked so hard to pass 30 and to defeat 32. We did phone banking and precinct walking and dropping off of door hangers. When it all came to fruition on election night, it was exhilarating! It was great to see we made a difference. It’s a wonderful and fulfilling feeling to make a difference. On top of all that, the president was re-elected! Our work now begins again to make sure Prop. 30 is implemented in the way it was intended. Let’s hope that now there will be no layoffs and no cuts in our district.”
Sherea Westra, Fremont Unified District Teachers Association
“California stepped up to do what’s right for the future of the state and the future of our economy. I couldn’t be prouder. I know how much hard work teachers did. Everybody put in so much time here in Fremont to the campaign and to pass Prop. 30. We had people at my school come out to do phone banking and precinct walking for the first time ever on any campaign. Having my little baby, Kyler, is about the future. That’s why I wanted to get back right away and give as much time as I could, despite being a brand-new mom again. It hit home for me seeing his face. It’s about the kids. We have to step up. I think Californians did that. It was close on Prop. 30, but Californians stepped up at the end. I am so glad that those trigger cuts are not coming to my district. We have taken so many cuts already.”
Sherea Westra gave birth to her son, Kyler, on Oct. 29, and was back phone-banking the next day.
Larry Allen, CTA Board member
“The ‘aha!’ moment for me was during the repurposing of State Council weekend. There was so much activity and excitement and people coming together. I felt a turnaround in the campaign. I felt like we can’t lose now because we are an organized machine. This campaign put more energy into our members throughout the state than anything I have ever seen. If we can keep that momentum going, we can do anything.”
La Nita Dominique, President, Adelanto District Teachers Association
“Before August I wasn’t really interested in politics, but working on this campaign made it all real. I’m really grateful for the opportunity to have been involved. It changed my world; it made me a stronger person and a stronger leader.”
Guillermo Sandoval, Montebello Teachers Association
“It was a great experience, and winning has made it all worth it. I got to meet teachers from all over and work with other labor unions. Because both propositions had such a potentially huge impact on my students and their futures, I plan to discuss with them what I’ve been doing over the past two months.”
Tom Torlakson, State Superintendent of Public Instruction
“Passage of Proposition 30 means parents and students across the state can breathe a collective sigh of relief, knowing that our schools will have the resources to stay open for the remainder of the year. My heartfelt thanks to the governor and the volunteer army of parents, teachers, school employees, administrators, and school board members, who stood together to stop further devastating cuts to education. The people of California have given our schools a well-earned vote of confidence. We intend to make the most of it by continuing our work to give all children the world-class education they deserve.”
Mary Rose Ortega, CTA Board member
“It was the greatest campaign I’ve ever worked on. People were motivated and excited. There were many first-time CTA campaigners. I enjoyed working with newer members who wanted to get involved because they understood the devastating impact that Propositions 30 and 32 would have. It was a great experience talking to so many people and educating them about something so important. One thing I learned from this is that we need to do more outreach in minority communities. We made good connections in this campaign; we need to build on them.”
Mikki Cichocki, CTA Secretary-Treasurer
“It’s been a long and hard-fought victory, but what a victory it was for the students of California and for our members. Prop. 30 was very important. I am a parent with one in college and one in high school, and I don’t want their educational opportunities to be severely limited. It is a joyous day!”
Marc Sternberger, Vice President, CTA/NEA-Retired
“I haven’t seen as much activism as this in all my years at CTA. I’m just so proud of CTA and its members for walking precincts and organizing the phone banks. I would walk into a room and it was full of people volunteering and phone-banking. We did it the right way. We released the right amount of people from the classroom to work on the campaign. And we picked the right people to do it.”
David Goldberg, CTA Board member
“It was incredibly exhausting being in the campaign, but I always felt so good knowing I was part of something bigger than me. It helped to sustain me. I did 12 debates. I debated Molly Munger and others. The campaign was hard work, but it was worth it. The campaign energized our members. We sent a message to others that we value our students in this state and we value higher education in this state. We also sent a message to billionaires that they can be exposed — and that if given a choice between billionaires and educators, voters will choose educators. I think this victory was extremely important for our members in other ways, too. Our members are always under attack. They are isolated in their classrooms. But they learned they have the power to connect with people in ways that are very important.”
Josie Malik, Vice President, San Joaquin Delta College Teachers Association
“Social media played a huge part in mobilizing our members, but when it came to organizing, we had to work face to face with members to really make it work. I connected with a bunch of friends and families through social media and said, ‘If you value education, this is the way you should vote.’ I’m not sure if I changed their minds, but I definitely gave them direction if they were ambivalent about how to vote and not aware of what was at stake.”
Leslie Littman, CTA Board member
“If we had lost Proposition 32, we would have lost everything. We would have lost our collective bargaining rights. We would have lost our pensions and due process. Our evaluations would probably be tied to our test scores. Because Prop. 32 lost, the working people in the state have a voice. We sent a clear message: A couple of people with billions of dollars can’t silence us. After a lot of hard work by a whole lot of people, it is really nice to win!”
George Sheridan, NEA Director
“I felt like we were fighting for the very existence of public schools. I’m glad Prop. 30 passed, because I’m in a district with no reserves. Our school year would have been shortened by 15 days if 30 didn’t pass. Teachers would not have time to teach a full curriculum with fewer days. We’ve already increased class size and laid off members. The only thing left to cut was the school year, and I’m so glad that won’t be happening.”
Stacy Willett, Sacramento City Teachers Association
“I did a lot of phone banking; I made 1,200 calls. I did it because both Propositions 30 and 32 had so much at stake, not only for the immediate future but the long-term future. It might sound kind of funny, but I liked phone banking. I’m a teacher, and I got to teach people about things that are really important.”
Terri Jackson, CTA Board member
“Tonight is such a memorable night for public education, for students, for California and for the nation. The campaign was a unifying force. It was all about talking to our members. I loved the way everything came together and am proud to be part of this effort.”
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