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Educators are no longer willing to sit on the sidelines and watch uninformed and misguided politicians decide the future of students and schools. They’re mobilizing, organizing and jumping into the political fray, intent on making positive and lasting change. Here is a look at CTA members who are joining hundreds of educators across the country to run for office on local school boards and city councils.

Virginia Torres

Lifetime CTA/NEA member and associate member of Teachers Association of Long Beach; taught grades K-8 for 34 years in Long Beach Unified School District before retiring.




First-time candidate for Westminster School District Board of Trustees, Area 2; endorsed by Westminster Teachers Association (WTA).


“I’m running to make our district and schools a great place of learning. I have concerns about school safety and students’ mental health. There’s so much bullying in our schools, especially online. I’d like to see social and emotional development of children come to the forefront at all grade levels.

“I’ll work for safe schools, high behavioral and academic expectations, and schools with a rigorous curriculum as we prepare students for the 21st century. I feel strongly about equity in our education system, closing the achievement gap, and having success for all students.”


“WTA’s campaign includes walking my area with flyers and lawn signs, phone calling, sending mailers out, and GOTV calls. Teacher reps and I attended back-to-school nights and passed out my flyers. WTA applied for ABC funds. In July, CTA’s Region IV political organizer spent a day training WTA officers, their PAC and candidates.”

Sarah Kirby-Gonzalez

Folsom-Cordova Education Association; 14-year public school teacher currently teaching 5th grade in Rancho Cordova.




Candidate for reelection to the Washington Unified School District school board in West Sacramento.


She initially won in a special election against a corporate charter school association candidate. “An employee of [charter school advocate] Michelle Rhee was running. I thought, ‘Wait — I don’t want my daughter in a district with people at the helm who don’t believe in public education.’ Often as teachers, and women, we don’t see ourselves in the leadership role. Sometimes when we look around we realize, ‘I am the most qualified person to run.’

“Teachers who are immersed in childrens’ education every day should have a voice in policy-making. I’m the only teacher serving on the board. When I came on the board, NCLB was ending and everything was test-driven. Now, we’re looking at the needs of the whole child. My goal now is to continue to improve academic and social supports for students.

“Being a board member has allowed me to make my voice heard. I have all these roles, relationships and contacts where I can advocate for my district and public education. It’s hard for a teacher to break into all that.”


“The most important thing is having a targeted list of registered, likely voters and going door-to-door to meet them. Making personal connections is key. “My local’s members are the real reason I won. I walked with my daughter and worked really hard, [but] if even 10 others walk, it magnifies the impact you can have. Sometimes our union may take the heat for [being involved in elections or canvassing neighborhoods], but people respect teachers and they are the best people to tell your story. Having their support is a huge honor.”

Election 2018: Special Report

Follow the links below to continue reading about the election and candidates in this feature.

In It to Win It CTA locals use their power for purpose Meet the Candidates  Leaders aligned with our values A Closer LookTony Thurmond vs. Marshall Tuck In Their Own Words   Educators on why Tuck should not be SPI Voter Guide Initiatives to Know CTA positions on statewide propositions Tom Torlakson  The outgoing schools chief on his legacy

Brian Wheatley

Evergreen Teachers Association; ETA president. Currently Teacher on Special Assignment; taught grades 5-6 since starting as a teacher in 1985.




Candidate for San José Unified School District Trustee, Area 4; first political campaign. Endorsed by ETA.


“My decades of experience as a classroom teacher provides me with a student-centered approach when dealing with district-wide issues. In addition, my 10 years as ETA president has given me the opportunity to advocate for my colleagues and interact with the variety of community groups focused on the needs of working people.

“Additionally, because of my physical handicap, I have a unique perspective that provides a sensitivity and awareness that has helped me connect with students, in and out of the classroom.”


“ETA has endorsed my campaign, and individual teachers have been very supportive and participated in various events, including fundraising. [Neighboring local] San Jose Teachers Association chose to do a dual endorsement with the appointee currently occupying the seat since March.”

Barbara Schulman

Saddleback Valley Educators Association (SVEA); an educator for 30 years, teaching pre-school through adult transition in Saddleback Valley Unified School District, before retiring.




First-time candidate for Saddleback Valley Unified School District School Board; endorsed by SVEA.


“I want to help Saddleback stay a strong, positive school district. I have gone to school board meetings for 30 years. From day one I knew that when I retired, this is what I wanted to do. My platform is safety, fiscal accountability, transparency, and teacher recruitment and retention. I want to make sure our declining-enrollment district spends money wisely while providing all students the best education.”


“I have been participating in events, doing social media, phone calls and going door-to-door. My local supported me with a commercial and at candidate forums, passing out flyers at all back-to-school nights, sending postcards with handwritten notes, and moral support. I am a graduate of NEA’s See Educators Run training.”

Larry Allen

CTA/NEA-Retired; before retirement, Middletown Teachers Association and former member of CTA’s Board of Directors. Taught all subjects at a continuation high school in Middletown Unified School District, where he was a teacher for 32 years.




Candidate for Governing Board of Middletown Unified School District.


“There are three open seats on a board with no education professionals serving. My main goals are to bring into the district a culture of collaboration, recognizing that several minds from a variety of jobs are smarter than one mind in the district office; and to help redefine the role of a school board in a poor, rural district, from micro-managing school employees to hammering legislators with our students’ need for equity. Our schools are the center of our community and a happy, well-performing district equals a happy community.”


“My campaign holds events in homes. Our geography stifles door-to-door, so we are standing in front of stores and post offices with hand-outs. We are sending a mailer to all registered voters and are setting up a phone bank.

“I have received endorsement from the Lake County Democrats. My local chapter, which is in the district in which I’m running, voted to ‘stay out of politics’ a few years ago.”

Jeremy Khalaf

Westminster Teachers Association (WTA); eighth year of teaching high school; currently teaches Chemistry/AP Chemistry in Garden Grove Unified School District.




Candidate for school board trustee, Area 5, of the Westminster School District; endorsed by WTA.


“As parent to two young children and a public school teacher, I feel responsible to be the voice of parents and teachers to champion decisions that will be in the best interest of our students and our schools. I realized I needed to run while attending an information night at an elementary school in the district. Both teachers and parents voiced similar frustrations with the current school board leadership. Fiscally harmful decisions, a lack of transparency, even indecency toward community members at board meetings, were included in the alleged offenses.”


“I am campaigning primarily by going door-to-door and through social media ( I receive tremendous support and guidance from WTA, which represents the 500-plus Westminster teachers in the district. These teachers go door-to-door, pass out flyers, put up signs and support my campaign on their own time outside of the classroom. WTA has coordinated support from CTA and our local CTA political support person. It has also applied for ABC funds on behalf of endorsed candidates: myself (Area 5) and Virginia Torres (Area 2).”

Dianne Jones

Fremont Unified District Teachers Association (FUDTA); substitute teacher in Fremont Unified School District for over two years; has served in local PTA leadership and on several FUSD committees.




First-time candidate for Fremont Unified School Board; endorsed by FUDTA.


“The most positive impact I can have is serving on the school board, providing leadership and making policy decisions that positively impact our students, educators and support staff. I decided it was time after watching our current board make several decisions that disregarded years of work and recommendation from our professionals and educators. I fear these decisions will widen the achievement gap.

“As a trustee, I will work to provide state-of-the-art facilities; highly qualified educators and support staff who can afford to live in the community and whose expertise is valued; and safe and inclusive schools.”


“I’ve been meeting with district stakeholders to learn about the experiences of our educators, students and families. I have held several meet-and-greet events, attended candidate forums, knocked on doors, and made phone calls.

“I’m honored to have Sherea Westra, a former FUDTA president and Fremont teacher of the year, serve as my campaign manager. FUDTA is supporting my campaign and helping to engage community members by distributing literature, sharing my vision, phone banking, writing op-eds and letters, and walking precincts.”

Lita Tabish

Temecula Valley Educators Association; 30-year public school educator currently teaching middle school home economics.




Candidate for Fallbrook Union High School District Governing Board; endorsed by Fallbrook Teachers Association (FTA).


“I have lived in the Fallbrook School District for 19 years and worked for the district for 18 years. I’ve been disappointed with the direction the district is heading. Many valuable courses and programs have been cut. I’ve voiced my opinion at numerous school board meetings with no positive response. At the June meeting, current board members voted unanimously to award the superintendent a big raise and new contract. He now earns well over a quarter of million dollars with automatic raises to run one school! That was the last straw. I decided to run myself.”


“FTA has assisted in putting up signs and banners and sending out e-mails. FTA teachers walked Main Street in Fallbrook and asked local businesses to post our campaign signs in their windows. We have reached out to retired teachers for support and they have been awesome. I’ve been involved in many Fallbrook community groups, trails council, park boards and clubs, and many of these groups are giving support and helping to spread the word. I also knew that I could not make changes on the school board by myself so I have teamed up with two other like-minded candidates and we are running as a block. We call ourselves the ‘Terrific Trio.’”

Mary S. Doyle

Sweetwater Education Association (SEA); 25-year educator currently teaching high school Spanish.




First-time candidate for South Bay Union Elementary School Board; endorsed by Southwest Teachers Association (SWTA; SEA does not endorse outside of its own school board races).


“I live and work in this community. I realized I needed to run when I spoke to unit members of SWTA and realized changes that SEA and community members had brought about in Sweetwater Union High School District had not trickled down to our feeder schools. I feel a more equitable elementary school experience could result in better prepared and academically inspired citizens of our region.

“Classroom teachers have much to contribute and should be welcomed in district-wide decision making. Classified employees have first-hand knowledge and invaluable experience as well. Parents and community members live with decisions school boards make long after the trustees themselves have moved on. Let’s listen to these stakeholders.”


“I’m walking precincts, making phone calls, doing social media, seeking endorsements from labor.

“SEA members are supportive of my campaign. I am endorsed by SWTA; members and retirees have passed out flyers at open houses across the district.”

Tyra Weis

Associated Pomona Teachers, CTA/NEA member since 1994; served as APT president 2009-2013. Teacher for 25 years, currently teaching K/1 combo in Pomona Unified School District.




Candidate for Chino City Council District 1, where she lives. Endorsed by Protect Chino, Business Leaders for Ethical Government, CTA’s Service Center One, and more.


“I have long believed that educators deserve a role in decision-making at school board, city, state and national levels. I am running on a platform of communication, advocacy and transparency and hope to bring focus to honoring the city’s general plan. I also want to address housing affordability and establish a kindergarten-to-college savings plan as a private-public partnership.”


“I am walking, knocking and talking. I have a Facebook page and website. My chapter does not take positions on city council races, but colleagues have been supportive with the media campaign and contributions of time and money. They have also walked alongside me and helped place lawn signs.

“I am a May graduate of NEA’s See Educators Run. It was a great nuts-and-bolts training on all aspects of a campaign. Having a clear message and being able to pivot to your talking points was an important part. I had planned for years while living in Pomona, to eventually retire and run for school board. See Educators Run opened me up to the possibilities.”

Ruth Luevand

Bonita Unified Teachers Association; 18-year educator currently teaching high school AP Chemistry and Honors Chemistry.




Candidate for Mt. San Antonio College Board of Trustees, District 2; endorsed by BUTA and Mt. SAC Faculty Association.


“I am a passionate advocate for public education. I have served in leadership roles within CTA, NEA and my local chapter. As a fulltime teacher, I interact with students, teachers, parents, administrators and community members on a daily basis. One of my strengths is bringing together different groups of people and coming to consensus on what is in the best interests of our students and the community.

“My motivation to run is based on a desire to give back to the community, share my expertise, and create an engaging and collaborative community college environment that best supports all students while remaining fiscally solvent.”


“I am participating in community events, attending political events, launching social media videos, doing phone calls, going door-to-door.

“The Mt. SAC Faculty Association endorsement comes with both financial and member support for canvassing and direct mailing. I am receiving support from CTA/NEA, for example in ABC funds through the Mt. SAC Faculty Association endorsement.”

Marco Amaral

Sweetwater Education Association (SEA); has taught high school special education for two years.




Candidate for South Bay Union District Board of Trustees; endorsed by Southwest Teachers Association (SWTA; SEA does not endorse outside of its own school board races).


“This run is an extension of the movement for a dignified and just education system. Public schools are the most important public institution in any democracy. Education should serve as a tool to teach fundamental community lessons and values such as solidarity, compassion and love. This is about the kids, that we take the time and effort to see the humanity of each student, not their production value as measured by standardized tests.

“My goals: provide competitive salaries for all unionized workers, a world-class special education program that values all stakeholders, and cultural competency training for all district employees.”


“We are using social media to promote our platform. We are knocking on doors to seek support.

“SEA members are helping with volunteers for our precinct walks. SWTA has committed to phone banking and precinct walking. We received CTA ABC funding through the SWTA campaign plan.”

Don Bridge

Retired CTA/NEA life member and Associated Chino Teachers (ACT) member; former CTA Board Member; taught high school government for 33 years; 38 total years in education.




Candidate for Chino Valley Unified School District Board of Education.

He first ran for one of three open seats on the school board two years ago and came up just short, finishing fourth by only 743 votes. (The top four finishers all received more than 22,000 votes.)


“Coming so close two years ago, I wanted to give the campaign one more try.” He is hoping this time will be successful in order to flip the board majority. Two current board members unfriendly to educators have made a practice of grandstanding during meetings and espousing controversial viewpoints, which has resulted in a lawsuit against the school district. “It is my hope to be elected and not only change the majority but also bring back decorum to the meetings and a proper focus on education.”


“My campaign has been endorsed by ACT and the local chapter of the California School Employees Association (CSEA). ACT applied for and received ABC funding. I have been meeting with local community parent groups who oppose the board majority. ACT and CSEA are scheduling precinct walks. ACT is sending a letter to CTA members living within the district boundaries. Some teachers will be writing letters to the local Chino newspaper.”

José Alcalá

Moreno Valley Educators Association; he served on MVEA’s bargaining team, and also as past chair of CTA’s Hispanic Caucus. An educator in Moreno Valley Unified School District for 15 years, he currently is a member of the CTA Board of Directors, representing educators in Riverside and San Bernardino counties.




Candidate for Riverside Community College District Board of Trustees, Area 4; endorsed by Riverside Community College Faculty Association (RCCFA), Corona-Norco Teachers Association and Alvord Educators Association, along with the local central labor council, building trades’ unions and others.


“Once the faculty at the college and elected officials that I respect asked me to run, I knew it was time. I was definitely humbled that people believed in me.” His platform includes expanding job training programs, maintaining fiscal accountability, and increasing community college accessibility for all. He is a graduate of the Riverside college district and wants to “pay it forward” for helping him to succeed in life, plus serve as a role model. “I became a teacher to give back and help students just as my teachers had done for me,” he says. “Our community is more than 60 percent Hispanic. I could serve as a role model for our people of color in this community. I want folks to see that somebody from the community can do this.”


“I am going door-to-door, and we are using targeted mail.” Members of RCCFA are working hard to get out the vote for Alcalá.