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By Julian Peeples

When a California government agency or organization is considering a policy position or key action item that could impact educators, students and public schools, CTA is there — literally.

More than 60 members serve as CTA liaisons and ambassadors to a wide array of state agencies and organizations whose work affects education. They monitor meetings, carry CTA’s message, and promote the policies of CTA on behalf of all members and students of California.

“It’s crucial for CTA educators to be in the room so that the policy and perspectives of CTA members are articulated,” says Danette Brown, liaison to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) and member of La Habra Education Association. “It’s extremely satisfying to serve as a liaison to the CTC and work to positively impact the future of our profession.”

Appointed by the CTA Board of Directors, liaisons are members who participate in state agency work as the eyes and ears of the union (in addition to CTA staff), while ambassadors engage with organizations and serve as a conduit between them and CTA. Some ambassadors also serve on their assigned organization’s board of directors, like C. Scott Miller, who sits on the board of Equality California.

“We, CTA members, are advocating for our own working and learning environments. The work is personal and rewarding because we know how it affects fellow educators and ultimately students,” says Miller, a member of Santa Ana Educators Association. “If we want change, we have to make it!”

All liaisons and ambassadors file regular reports, which are reviewed by CTA’s Agency Review Committee, a subset of the Board of Directors, and then shared with their respective State Council of Education committee. The committee considers and makes recommendations about procedures for individual monitoring of the activities of state governmental agencies. Liaisons and ambassadors are divided into five groups to network with colleagues and communicate about similar issues: Student Services, Career Education, Curriculum Issues, Equity Issues and Watchdogs.

“As part of the ‘watchdog’ group, we are tasked with being in the space in order to be aware of any issues that may impact CTA or local associations,” says Wendy Eccles, ambassador to the California Fair Political Practices Commission and member of NEA-Jurupa. “Building and maintaining relationships with like-minded outside organizations is imperative to our overall success and survival as an organization.”

Miller says while some might think implementing school policy is easy, there are thousands of other issues that affect day-to-day business in schools. He says the relationships built through the liaison and ambassador program allow educators to provide a true, authentic glimpse into the school system. He recalls when a colleague on the Equality California board suggested training all teachers statewide on an important issue but didn’t fully grasp the complexities of coordinating such an endeavor with more than 1,000 school districts statewide.

“When I explained that it isn’t that simple and no one can just wave a magic wand to create change in our public schools, it was eye-opening that many people outside of education simply don’t understand how it works,” Miller says. “It is not enough to send your kids to school or to have attended school, for that matter, to claim to know how to make change in our schools.”

The liaisons and ambassadors don’t work in isolation. They receive training at each State Council meeting on current issues facing education and CTA’s official positions on them. Miller says they also work directly with CTA’s officers and staff to deliver CTA’s message and develop strategies to build ongoing relationships. It’s a lot of hours on top of their jobs and other responsibilities, but liaisons and ambassadors say it’s a rewarding charge.

“To represent the many voices of CTA as an ambassador to the Pupil Services Coalition is such an honor,” says Josh Godinez, a member of Corona-Norco Teachers Association. “With student mental health being such a necessary focus as we work on increased attendance, promoting positive cultures and climates, and academic achievement, supporting educational support personnel is critical in making sure that our students have timely access to the people and resources that provide these unique supports.”

For more information about CTA liaisons and ambassadors, visit cta.org/liaisons.


Lorraine Richards

Lorraine Richards

Liaison (one of two) to the State Board of Education
Montebello Teachers Association

Role and responsibilities: “Michael Juba and I attend meetings every other month and monitor the business. We meet with CTA staff prior to the meeting to discuss the agenda and clarify impactful agenda items that require CTA public comment.”

Importance of educator voice: “The teacher’s voice is needed at the meetings. It reminds the State Board and the public how the decisions impact students.”


Danette Brown

Danette Brown

Liaison (one of two) to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing
La Habra Education Association

Role and responsibilities: “I attend approximately 10 two-day meetings annually. Prior to these meetings, the liaisons review the agenda and participate in pre-planning meetings to prepare for public testimony. We reach out to partners, like the Association of California School Administrators and California School Boards Association, to lobby for support for our positions.”

Importance of educator voice: “The CTC is our professional standards board and serves as the gatekeeper of entry and exit to the profession. We need to have a strong voice at the table so the CTC understands exactly how their decisions will impact not only educators, but potential future educators.”

Value to CTA: “Being in the room allows us to foster informal and formal relationships with both the commission and other educational partners to further the positions of CTA.”


Kristan Morales

Kristan Morales

Ambassador to the California Mathematics Council
Temecula Valley Educators Association

Importance of educator voice: “It is important that CTA representatives are in the room for CMC conversations, especially about items such as new framework adoption and legislation that involves curriculum and instruction. The partnership between the organizations means we can support each other to move forward with policies that best serve students and educators.”


Wendy Eccles

Wendy Eccles

Ambassador to the California Fair Political Practices Commission
NEA-Jurupa

Role and responsibilities: “I attend monthly commission hearings and listen for anything that could impact CTA or our local associations. This includes changes to FPPC policies, proposed legislation, and any fees or fines that may be levied against local associations related to their political activities and campaigns.”

Importance of educator voice: “FPPC regulations impact our organization at the state, service center, and local levels. Knowing the rules and any changes to them helps ensure that we don’t get into any fiduciary or legal entanglements.”

Value to CTA: “Having CTA members in as many spaces as possible not only allows us to hear about the ongoing issues or ideas that may affect us, but also gives us the opportunity to provide context, feedback, and influence the conversations. We need to be visible in the rooms where it happens.”


C. Scott Miller

C. Scott Miller

Ambassador to and board member of Equality California
Santa Ana Educators Association

Role and responsibilities: “Equality California is the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, working at the local, state and national levels. I have served as financial committee chair and on the governance and executive committees to ensure EQCA brings the voices of LGBTQ+ people and allies to institutions of power in California and across the United States, striving to create a world that is healthy, just and fully equal for all LGBTQ+ people.”

Value to CTA: “Many of our members are unaware that CTA has thriving relationships with statewide organizations. What is impressive is that this work is being done by regular classroom teachers or other education professionals and not by special-interest lobbyists.”


Naqiba Gregory

Naqiba Gregory

Ambassador to the Native American Heritage Commission
West Sacramento Teachers Association

Value to CTA: “It is imperative that we are knowledgeable about the issues that face our state and where to focus our efforts so that we can meet the community and educational needs of our teachers and students. The liaison and ambassador program keeps us relevant, aware and informed.”


Josh Godinez

Josh Godinez

Ambassador to the California Pupil Services Coalition
Corona-Norco Teachers Association

Importance of educator voice: “CTA is the foundation for education in California, and having a voice with those who offer support services is key, because together we create school communities that enhance the educational experiences and meet the ever-changing needs of California’s students daily.”

Value to CTA: “Representation is extremely important because we are the pulse of the school communities and the voice of California educators who work hard to educate, empower and inspire students daily.”


Watchdogs for Educators and Students

CTA liaisons and ambassadors monitor the meetings and matters affecting public education of the following agencies and organizations.

Liaison Agencies
State Board of Education
Advisory Commission on Charter Schools
Advisory Commission on Special Education
Instructional Quality Commission
California Practitioners Advisory Group
California Workforce Pathways Joint Advisory Committee
California Commission on Teacher Credentialing
State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS)
California School Finance Authority
California Collaborative for Educational Excellence
California Community Colleges Board of Governors
Chancellor’s Consultation Council
Council of Faculty Organizations
Western Association of Schools and Colleges

Ambassador Organizations
Asian Americans Advancing Justice
Public Employment Relations Board (PERB)
California Association for the Education of Young Children
California Association for Bilingual Educators
California Association for Career and Technical Education
Association of Mexican American Educators
California Association of Resource and Special Educators (CARS+)
Association of Career and College Readiness Organizations
California Association of School Counselors
California Association of School Psychologists
California Association of Teachers of English
California Association of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages
California Agricultural Teachers Association
Create CA (formerly California Alliance for Arts Education)
California Council for Adult Education
California Council for the Social Studies
California Community of Practice on Secondary Transition
California Educators of the Deaf
California Industrial and Technology Education Association
California Kindergarten Association
California Mathematics Council
California Middle Grades Alliance
California Music Educators Association
California Native American Heritage Commission
Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS)
California Pupil Services Coalition
California Reading Association
California School Library Association
California School Nurses Organization
California Association of Science Educators
California Speech Language Hearing Association
Californians Together
Authentic Preparation Today (APT) Work Group (formerly Promoting Authentic College, Career and Civic Readiness Assessment Systems)
Computer-Using Educators
Department of Fair Employment and Housing
California Fair Political Practices Commission
First 5 California (California Children and Families Commission)
California State PTA
State Student Attendance Review Board

Ambassador Organizations with CTA members on the board
Consumer Federation of California Policy Board
Equality California

 

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