What an extraordinary school year we have had. We’ve shown up for students and each other in ways we never even knew existed. What you have accomplished during the pandemic, and especially this school year, is nothing short of astounding. You took students traumatized by disaster and loss, and cheered them across the finish line.
I’m so proud of you all. After the physical closure of nearly all California schools, educators rose to the occasion and, with the assistance of peers, experts and CTA resources, made the rapid transition to remote teaching and learning. We accomplished this while juggling our own families’ needs and challenges. Many of us carried on for our students while at the same time dealing with devastating personal losses caused by the pandemic. So many CTA members went above and beyond, giving time to food banks and programs distributing meals to students and their families.
After the initial disruption of the pandemic last spring, we hit the ground running in the fall, ready for whatever challenges the new school year might bring. So many of you were able to do all that and actively engage in the ongoing fight for equity and social justice.
“Let’s take the best of what we were doing before and combine that with what we’ve learned over the past year.”
Many of you are concluding this year back in your physical classrooms or school worksites; some of you have been there since the fall. CTA has fought tirelessly to help ensure that you and your students are teaching and learning under the safest possible circumstances, and we will continue to do so, along with your local chapter, during the coming school year. That said, we are also advocating for remote learning and other alternatives for families and students with special circumstances and needs — and yes, for some of you!
While most of us may be ready for a return to “normal,” it’s important to recognize that normal wasn’t necessarily working for all students. It’s my hope that we will take the lessons learned during this pandemic, especially around issues of equity, and work to ensure that every child has the opportunity to learn and succeed.
We also know that some students are going to need additional supports when they return in the fall, and connections with students and families will be key. CTA worked with a coalition of education, parent and community groups to develop a restorative restart approach focused on the whole student.
I encourage you to look at reimaginecaschools.org. Let’s take the best of what we were doing before and combine that with what we’ve learned over the past year.
School districts should have the resources to make that happen. The revised state budget proposal spends a record amount on K-12 and community colleges, and the governor is also pushing for universal TK. While this is welcome news, even record spending doesn’t push California to the national average in per-pupil funding, and much of this year’s windfall is spent in one-time dollars. Our state is the fifth-largest
economy in the world. We can and must do better.
Many of you will continue working over the summer, or your calendar may already be filling up with the CTA and NEA events we’ll be holding over the next two months. But whether you’re planning a traditional summer vacation or not, I hope all of you get a chance for some well-earned rest. You deserve it, and your students will be better off when we
return to the 2021-22 school year energized and up to new challenges and opportunities.
Have a great summer, everyone.
E. Toby Boyd