CTA State Council started the new year with a rousing speech by CTA-recommended candidate Tony Thurmond, and had a very visible presence at the Women’s March in Los Angeles. There was plenty of time to attend to other business.
1. Thurmond Speech Helps Launch Campaign 2018 Educators’ candidate for state superintendent of public instruction brought down the house. Bay Area Assembly Member Tony Thurmond spoke with power and passion on key education issues, such as the White House push for vouchers and the teacher shortage, and how public education is the great equalizer that helped save his life. “We won’t stand for vouchers, and we will not allow for any privatization of public education in the great state of California,” he vowed. And check out CTA’s Campaign 2018 website at campaign2018cta.org.
2. Women Shall Overcome (March) Loud and proud: CTA had a vocal and unified presence at #WomensMarchLA, marching as educators and union members to Grand Park by City Hall. We joined millions of others — in LA and across the country and the world — advocating for women’s and human rights at a time when they are imperiled. CTA resolutely stands behind the goal of this year’s march: to launch a nationwide voter registration tour targeting swing states, engage communities, and collaborate with partners to elect more women and progressive candidates to office.
3. Women Are the Heart of the Labor Movement Referencing the #MeToo movement, President Eric Heins in his speech to Council made abundantly clear that CTA supports women and others who are breaking a culture of silence in the face of harassment and assault. He paid tribute to “the dynamic women who largely make up this profession and this union,” and said, “This union is better and stronger because of you.”
Heins noted that CTA has been at the forefront of the women’s rights movement, seeking pay equity, decent benefits, safe health care and job protections, and that to continue to move forward, we need women’s strong voices and activism.
4. Crucial Candidate Recommendations Nearly Done Delegates supported re-electing Secretary of State Alex Padilla and state Controller Betty Yee, both of whom are strong advocates of public education. Also recommended were 44 state Assembly and Senate candidates, with more recommendations to come at the April Council meeting. President Heins, explaining why educators strongly support Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom for governor, said Newsom “knows that educational excellence isn’t conceived in Sacramento but in the daily toil of hundreds of thousands of educators, parents and students.”
5. Membership Engagement CTA Executive Director Joe Nuñez spoke to Council about CTA’s initiatives to recruit and engage our membership now and after the Supreme Court’s Janus v. AFSCME decision. Along with conducting focused trainings and creating new toolkits, CTA has held membership engagement workshops at regional and local conferences and worked with chapters to develop membership engagement plans. Nuñez also acknowledged the tremendous efforts locals have made, including chapters’ campaigns to convert agency fee payers to members and ask members to recommit.
6. Sunday Morning Joe Executive Director Nuñez warned about the rejection of objective truth by U.S. conservatives who attack mainstream journalism and science. “How will our union continue to grow or continue to be the voice of students and educators in California in this world of separate realities? We do it by sticking to our core values, and by letting them hear our voice.” We do it, he said, through making information-based State Council decisions, organizing our chapters, engaging our communities on educational issues that matter, and building on political successes like Propositions 30 and 55, which increased taxes on the wealthiest Californians to generate billions for our schools. Last but not least: “We do it by using the power of our voice and our vote!”
7. MLK Reception Gets Lit! No, not that way. CTA’s African American Caucus held its annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration on Saturday evening with a program featuring stirring monologues by LAUSD youth of Get Lit, an LA-based organization working to increase literacy and empowerment. The young women of Victory Praise Dancers also entertained the crowd with their spirited, evocative dance moves.
8. Delegates Thank CTA for Fire Disaster Relief One by one, delegates from the burn zones stepped up to Council microphones to thank CTA for fire relief grants. Rosa Granado, president of Hueneme Education Association in Ventura County, said the quick CTA Disaster Relief Fund grants helped four of her members who lost their homes and others who were temporarily displaced in the massive December Thomas Fire, the largest in the state’s recent history. Since September, the CTA Disaster Relief Fund has provided 245 grants to CTA members for a total of $436,000, with more grants in the pipeline, CTA Secretary-Treasurer David Goldberg announced at Council.
9. California Reads CTA’s #CaliforniaReads kicked off its annual list of teacher-recommended books for all grade levels at Council, with author Laurin Mayeno on hand to sign her book One of a Kind, Like Me. In addition to the books themselves for sale, bookmarks, posters and informational flyers were also available.
10. Numbers and Nostalgia — the Annual Report Has It All It was a fiscal year to remember, and to revisit your union accomplishments, see the highlights in CTA’s 2016-17 Year in Review. The Annual Report is CTA by the numbers for 2016-17 (including $393,100 in scholarships and grants awarded to CTA members and their dependents, and $608,326 in project grants awarded to members through CTA Institute for Teaching). Both reports are posted at cta.org/annualreport.