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By Julian Peeples

After more than two years of virtual meetings, CTA State Council of Education reunited in person for a powerful weekend in Los Angeles that embodied a familiar rallying cry: We are CTA.

The first in-person State Council since January 2020 was packed with business – council representatives reviewed and considered more than 250 pieces of state legislation and 51 candidate endorsements, with extensive discussions that are a hallmark of in-person State Council meetings.

CTA President E. Toby Boyd welcomed educators back with an emotional opening to the meeting, remembering all those lost to COVID-19 and acknowledging all that has happened since State Council was last able to be together.

“You managed this pandemic not only for your families, but also for your students. When schools closed, you pivoted in a minute and learned how to teach virtually,” Boyd said. “You made sure students were connected for online learning and had the food support they counted on. As the days went on, you dealt with constantly changing safety protocols and guidance. You did what needed to be done to keep students and schools safe.”

During his address to State Council, Boyd reviewed the many issues facing educators during the past two years, noting that CTA members have been leading the fight for public education, equality and economic justice. From standing together to stop Asian hate to supporting LGBTQ+ students whose networks were shrunk or eliminated during the pandemic to marching in the streets to state unequivocally that Black Lives Matter, Boyd said educators showed so much courage and selflessness over the last couple years.

“And I know it’s taken a toll. You must take care of yourself. You must take time for yourself and your family too,” he said. “Sometimes these days, the fight can be overwhelming.”

CTA State Council sent solidarity to striking Sac City educators

State Council was abuzz with solidarity with Sacramento City Teachers Association members as they entered the fourth day of their strike, with requests to support their strike fund as well as the fund for Rohnert Park Cotati Educators Association, which won a fair contract after six days on strike. Educators at seven Bay Area Summit charter schools will also vote on whether to authorize a strike this week after Unite Summit spent two years attempting to negotiate their first contract that addresses Summit’s high teacher turnover and provides more supports for students.

“It’s a shame that so many locals are having to deal with even the potential for a strike. Educators rose to the challenge of the pandemic with tremendous skill and grace. Being treated by their employer with respect shouldn’t be too much to ask,” Boyd said. “School districts argue that they can’t afford to pay their teachers and education support professionals more. This is almost universally simply untrue.”

Alondra Diaz, one of five California Teachers of the Year and nominee for National Teacher of the Year

Honoring Our Own

State Council honored the five California Teachers of the Year, all CTA members: Alondra Diaz, member of Saddleback Valley Educators Association; Nichi Avina, member of Palm Springs Teachers Association; Sovantevy “Sovey” Long-Latteri, member of Fullerton Secondary Teachers Organization; Tiffany Jokerst, member of Grossmont Education Association; and Virginia Vasquez, member of Alhambra Teachers Association. Diaz, California’s nominee for National Teacher of the Year honors, gave a passionate speech on behalf of the five winners that drove many in the audience to tears.

California’s five fantastic Teachers of the Year. From left, Nichi Avina, Sovey Long-Latteri, Tiffany Jokerst, Alondra Diaz and Virginia Vasquez

Members also honored CTA Paula J. Monroe Education Support Professional of the Year Mary Ambriz, a member of Redlands Education Support Professionals Association. The CTA Women’s Rights Committee shared a Women’s History Month presentation and the CTA Hispanic Caucus honored legendary organizers César Chávez and Dolores Huerta.

Taking Care of Business

State Council representatives dutifully completed a lengthy business agenda, as well as hearing from CTA Executive Director Joe Boyd, who praised educators for their fortitude during the pandemic.

“What you have done … fighting for safe schools, vaccines for staff, keeping kids and communities healthy, and our schools functioning is nothing short of heroic.,” Joe Boyd said. “Yes, it has been a mighty struggle and it will continue to be, but if we aren’t struggling, we aren’t organizing.”

CTA Vice President David B. Goldberg also moderated a forum on the investment in fossil fuel stocks by the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS).

“This forum came out of a democratic process by State Council,” Goldberg said. “How do we protect our retirement and how do we take care of our planet?

The following members were elected by State Council:

  • Angela Normand, CTA Board of Directors District C
  • Mike Patterson, CTA Board of Directors District D
  • Margie Granado, CTA Board of Directors District L
  • Kisha Borden, CTA Board of Directors District P
  • DeWayne Shaeffer, CTA Board of Directors District Q
  • Roberta “Robbie” Kreitz, NEA Coordinating Director
  • Laura Finco, NEA Alternate Director Seat 1
  • Luciano Ortiz, NEA Alternate Director Seat 3
  • Mayra Alvarado, CTA/ABC Committee District C
  • Jennifer Wilkin, CTA/ABC Committee District F
  • Wendy Eccles, CTA/ABC Committee District K
  • Lorraine Richards, CTA/ABC Committee District L
  • Jessica Merschtina, CTA/ABC Committee District P
  • Patrick Mitchell, CTA/ABC Committee District Q
  • Andrea Reyna, CTA/ABC Committee At-Large

The CTA Board of Directors

Check out photos and videos from the weekend’s events, and see additional coverage on Facebook and Twitter. CTA State Council of Education next meets May 20-21 in Los Angeles.

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