I received a survey from you — what’s that all about?
It’s about change. I know you’ve heard the old saying, “Change is the only constant in life.” Well, that’s definitely been true of our organization. We’ve changed a lot in the last 150 years, adapting to meet the challenges of the day. And we’re poised to do that yet again. It’s time to take an honest look at where we go from here. And that look begins with you — our members — and the survey.
You received that letter because CTA is engaging in a long-term strategic planning process, with the theme “Your Voice. Our Union. Our Future.” That survey and this planning process are about the future of CTA, CTA’s role in public education, and its role in our communities. With your help, we are taking a critical look at who we are, exploring who we want to be, and helping create a plan to ensure we are a strong, vital and relevant organization in the future.
I know change can be scary, especially when you don’t know what lies ahead. It can also be very exciting. I’m feeling a little of both right now, and together, I know, we will make the right decisions for our students, our profession, and our union. We will hold on to what’s working and not be afraid to cast away what’s not — even if that means doing things differently than we’ve always done them. In building this strategic plan, we will embrace new ideas — your ideas — and we will welcome all members’ input in order to build the CTA we all want for our future.
I’m so proud of all that we accomplished together. But as we celebrate these personal, professional and political victories and mark the 150th anniversary of CTA, we must also take a deep breath and reflect.
So thank you for making time to take the “Our Future” survey. Your thoughts and ideas and concerns captured in this online survey will be instrumental in helping CTA become a better organization.
We heard from school teachers who are concerned about losing a voice in the profession, from community college faculty who want to know there will be continued funding for their students, and from education support professionals who have worries about school safety.
We heard from CTA staff who had questions about the process and from local leaders who shared the types of support they need.
You shared your opinion on health care and retirement benefits, educator evaluation, school funding, and classroom topics. You let us know how CTA is meeting your needs when it comes to class size, curriculum, standards and assessment, academic freedom, and student discipline. You shared the importance of CTA’s grievance assistance, discounts on travel and financial products, professional development, and legal representation.
It was interesting to read what you understand about your CTA — the governance structure, how budget decisions are made, and the role and function of the CTA State Council of Education. You’ve shared how you want CTA to communicate with you and what type of information you want to receive from your union.
It was good information to read, because sometimes we get so engaged in the minutiae of getting our work done, we lose sight of our ultimate goals. For example, far too often we spend so much time fighting “reformers” who have not set one foot into a classroom, that we’re in “defend” mode rather than “let us listen” or “show you how” mode. You know, that’s the biggest problem with many education reformers, like Michelle Rhee, Gloria Romero, and even Bill Gates. They do not have education practitioners at the table; instead, they surround themselves with hedge fund managers and moneyed interests, and they assume they know more about teaching and learning than those of us in the classroom. They don’t.
Your voice is essential to this process if you want a strong union that helps you in your classroom and helps you advocate for your students. We can make our future whatever we want, but we have to do it together. So, thank you for being the real education experts.
Thank you for what you do for California’s students every day. And thank you for joining me on this journey of change. This strategic planning process will surely take us to new places together.
I’m ready. Are you?