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By Julian Peeples

CTA President E. Toby Boyd addressed the State Council of Education this morning during its first meeting of the school year. Here are 10 takeaways from his speech:

  1. Another Virtual Council: “I know we are all looking forward to being together in person as soon as we can—but for this meeting, logistical issues including hotel staffing and safety concerns around COVID with the Delta variant meant one more virtual meeting.”
  2. We’re Back! (and oh so tired): “This will be the first complete in-person school year during the COVID-19 pandemic. I know how happy most of you have been to be back with students and to see your colleagues. But I also know there are some real challenges: Safety concerns, quarantining issues and staffing shortages. We have a growing educator shortage, with a record number of resignations and retirements related to the stress of teaching and learning during the pandemic.”
  3. The Politics of Safety: “Some districts have been lax in enforcing standards or following the terms of local agreements. And some districts and school boards have found themselves caught in the middle of the politicization of basic safety measures. Sometimes our local chapters have been in the line of political fire from community members, or even other educators. That’s why solidarity and basing our decisions on science and what’s safe for students, staff, and communities needs to steer clear of politics and misinformation.”
  4. Vaccines & Masks Work:If you’re unvaccinated and test positive, you’re 13 times as likely to be hospitalized. And you’re 20 times more likely to die. It’s equally important to remember that the safety measures we support aren’t just about protecting each of us as individuals—they’re about protecting each other.”
  5. #InThisTogether: “A clear majority of our members support widespread vaccination, and I urge all CTA members who don’t have a medical or religious exemption to get vaccinated. Go ahead and get that booster shot when you can. Beating this pandemic is a collective effort.”
  6. Vouchers Rear Their Ugly Heads: “Two school voucher initiatives have been submitted in hopes of qualifying for the November 2022 ballot. Both would use public funds to send students to private and religious schools, taking money and vital resources away from public schools. Voters have rejected school vouchers twice before, but there’s no doubt these measures will be well-funded and will require our solidarity, strength and good organizing to defeat.”
  7. Unity is our Strength: “It’s so important that we continue to stand together and stand strong. It’s why one-on-one meetings and school site organizing are so critical. Educators speaking with one voice are a force to be reckoned with. We must stand strong together to beat back any effort to privatize one of California’s oldest and most valuable resources: our public schools. Our students continue to count on us, and as the CTA family has demonstrated time and time again, we’re up to the challenge!”
  8. Teach Truth: “For too long, we’ve had to fight against resistance to teaching about the contributions and perspectives of people who actually look like much of California. And the struggle to teach honestly about our history is ongoing. We need to stand strong and not be bullied into teaching a false history … And we mustn’t let California schools fall prey to the historically bankrupt “both sides-ism” that is infecting public education in places like Texas on issues like slavery, civil rights and the Holocaust. Teachers must have the freedom to teach!”
  9. The Power of Community Schools: “Organizing has paid off with a tremendous new investment in community schools. The community school model is an important effort because of its transformative power. Community schools operate with a “whole child” approach and integrate community resources so that students are healthy, prepared for college and ready to succeed. It’s an approach that brings academics, health and social services, educator leadership, and community engagement together to improve student learning and to build healthier communities.”
  10. Onward, Powered by our Victories: “Let’s be energized by the accomplishments we’ve made together — even though I know you are tired — and use that energy as fuel to embrace the great opportunities and to take on the daunting challenges ahead.”

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