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By Julian Peeples

California educators are leading the fight for the schools all students deserve and walking the walk when it comes to equity and social justice, CTA President E. Toby Boyd told the State Council of Education at its first meeting of the calendar year.

“We keep marching forward for our students and each other,” Boyd said. “And we never, ever turn back.”

CTA President E. Toby Boyd

During his report to State Council, Boyd addressed the recent rash of tragic mass shootings in Monterey Park, Half Moon Bay and Oakland, stating unequivocally that we cannot and will not accept gun violence as normal.

“We must continue to demand that lawmakers rise to the challenge to keep our schools, colleges and communities safe,” Boyd said. “We have to move beyond the ‘tragedy of it all’ and elect leaders who will take action.”

This sentiment was echoed by NEA President Becky Pringle, who visited CTA State Council for the first time since 2019. Pringle delivered an inspiring speech, highlighting victories powered by CTA members during the past year and underscoring our collective power as educators.

NEA President Becky Pringle

“It’s all of us, three million strong, with righteous indignation, fighting for the freedom to be our authentic selves; for the freedom to make decisions about our own bodies and health; fighting for the freedom to teach and the freedom to learn,” she said. “We will always stand up for our students, for each other and for what is right. Onward, CTA!”

Joining Pringle in Los Angeles were fellow NEA officers Vice President Princess Moss and Secretary-Treasurer Noel Candelaria. It was the first time ever that all of the CTA and NEA executive officers were at State Council together.

“Working together, CTA and NEA will continue to be unapologetic and relentless in our fight for students, public education and our members who fight for them all,” Moss said.

This was Candelaria’s first visit to CTA State Council as NEA Secretary-Treasurer, and he congratulated CTA for leading the way nationally on important education issues like community schools and the educator pipeline.

“As educators, we are curators and creators of hope and community,” he said. “Our children are depending on each and every one one of us. Our future demands it.”

State Council members elected new leaders to CTA and NEA leadership positions. Kindergarten teacher and United Teachers Los Angeles member Erika Jones was elected as the next CTA Secretary-Treasurer by acclamation (Jones was unopposed and elected by a voice vote). She will take office on June 26.

“I am excited to lead in this new position and look forward to continuing the great legacy of CTA,” Jones said. “Our work toward social justice and racial equity has been transformational, and I’m hopeful for the future as we continue to work together and with our communities for the sake of our students.”

CTA Secretary-Treasurer-elect Erika Jones

State Council representatives elected a new member to the CTA Board of Directors – Angela Der Ramos, a member of Alisal Teachers Association, who fills an at-large seat for an unexpired term ending June 25, 2023.

Also elected at the meeting:

  • Naqiba Gregory, a member of West Sacramento Teachers Association, to NEA Board of Directors, California District 1
  • Paula Merrigan, a member of Castro Valley Teachers Association, to NEA Board of Directors, California District 3
  • Nichole DeVore, a member of Sacramento City Teachers Association, to NEA Board of Directors, District 12.

There were numerous events outside of general sessions and committee meetings, including a forum hosted by Community College Association (CCA) members about opportunities for K-12 educators to work in higher education. The CTA African American Caucus observance was wildly popular and featured Dr. Xavier Buck, who spoke on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and how educators can use it to support movement-building. It was a poignant and timely discussion with the release this weekend of video of  the murder of Tyre Nichols by Memphis police.

“I know we are trying to understand the painful video released of police beating and killing another Black man, Tyre Nichols,” Boyd said during his speech to State Council. “The pain, the fear, the anger – it’s exhausting. We have to make room to support each other with care, compassion and strength. Let’s keep each other united and determined for justice. We cannot be silent.”

The next State Council of Education meeting will be held March 24-26 in Los Angeles.

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