The power of solidarity was on display this weekend during the CTA State Council of Education, as educators hit the homestretch on the longest school year ever and continue the fight for safe and healthy school communities.
One year after the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the spring meeting, CTA State Council met virtually for the fourth straight time, completing the work of the union by WebEx, honoring outstanding members, reviewing legislation and building power together remotely while still unable to be together in person. In his speech to the near-800 members of State Council, CTA President E. Toby Boyd thanked educators for their tireless work to keep one another, students and communities safe during the raging pandemic.
“We joined our voices together to protect educators, students and families from unsafe conditions and fought for state guidance rooted in public health, access to vaccines and the funding needed to ensure the health of our school communities,” Boyd said. “We did it together – even when the pandemic kept us apart.”
As students return to in-person instruction across California, Boyd said it’s important for educators to ensure school districts are following state and county health directives, as well as honoring locally negotiated agreements. When it comes to unsafe situations, Boyd said if you see something, say something.
“Immediately report safety concerns to district management, call the School COVID Hotline and file a report with CalOSHA and the state’s Safe Schools for All Team,” Boyd said. “Enforcement of your chapter’s agreements is the next step to ensuring the safety of our schools and communities.”
No Hate Here
In the wake of sharply increasing anti-Asian racism, hate and violence nationwide over the past year – including 1,500 hate incidents in California alone – Boyd told State Council that educators must work to create safe environments for all students, bring awareness to anti-Asian racism, and let our students and families know we stand with the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community and all people fighting hate.
“We call out these vile acts of racism and we condemn the violence against our AAPI communities,” Boyd said. “We mourn with our AAPI family and we support you in the continued fight against racism and for equity and equality.
Get involved and take action against hate. Report anti-AAPI hate incidents at StopAAPIHate.org.
“We all deserve the right to live, work and breathe peacefully in our neighborhoods,” Boyd said.
Honoring Outstanding Educators
The crises of the past year brought out the best in educators, who rose to multiple challenges to reach and teach all students amid a global pandemic. State Council honored the five educators named by California Department Education as 2021 Teachers of the Year:
- Allison Cyr, a third-grade teacher and member of Desert Sands Teachers Association;
- Keisa Brown, a seventh/eighth-grade teacher and member of Riverside City Teachers Association;
- Laura Gómez Contreras, a third-grade teacher and member of Santa Ana Educators Association;
- Nora Wynne, a middle school teacher and member of McKinleyville Teachers Association; and
- Jim Klipfel, a high school social studies teacher and member of Hart District Teachers Association, who was also selected to represent California in the National Teacher of the Year competition.
“The job of the teacher is harder than ever, the job of the teacher is more important than ever and kids need us more than ever,” Klipfel said in a video accepting the honor.
State Council also honored speech-language pathologist assistant Maggie Peacock-Butler as the 2021 CTA Paula J. Monroe Education Support Professional of the Year. A member of Potter Valley Education Support Professionals Association, Peacock-Butler’s compassionate approach and ability to make connections with students and their families has garnered the respect of the school community.
“To give them the power to use their words is amazing! My students are so bright and have so much to share,” Peacock-Butler said.
Sí Se Puede y Feliz Cumpleaños
CTA customarily honors labor heroes Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta at the spring State Council meeting, and this year’s celebration was even more special than usual, coinciding with Dolores Huerta Day. In honor of the legendary organizer and all she has done to create a more just America, educators took part in a tweetstorm wishing her a happy 91st birthday. Celebrate Dolores Huerta Day in your classroom with curriculum developed by CTA educators and send a belated #HappyBirthdayDolores to thank Huerta for believing in the power of us and leading the fight for justice.
State Council also commemorated March as Women’s History Month with a presentation by the CTA Women’s Rights Committee.
Electing Leaders for the Road Ahead
State Council re-elected six members to the CTA Board of Directors: District B Director Greg Bonaccorsi, District E Director Eva Ruiz, District I Director Christopher Bushée, District J Director Erika Jones, District M Director Joe Bartell and At-Large Director Robert Ellis.
We Can Count on Us
In his report to State Council, CTA Executive Director Joe Boyd said the battles we have fought together have defended our communities, kept our schools open, and protected our members, classrooms and families. He added that CTA’s hard push on vaccines set the marker that led to earlier vaccinations for our members here in California and educators nationally.
All these accomplishments were only possible because of our commitment to each other and dedication to our students, Joe Boyd said.
“We can’t always count on governors, we can’t always count on presidents, we can’t always count on our local governments and school boards,” he said, “but we can count on us.”
The next State Council of Education meeting will be held virtually from June 3-5.