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“ We should be proud of the difference the solidarity of educators made in this election and what it means for our students.”

As 2018 draws to a close, I find myself reflecting on this tumultuous year and appreciating more than ever the strong, family-like bond we all share as educators with the common goal of providing a quality education for all California students. That bond of solidarity led to some major wins for public education following an election with historic turnout and engagement — a bond that keeps us strong in the face of all challenges.

November’s election results showed the strength of that bond. While billionaires and those who would privatize our school system for personal gain poured more than $40 million into the race for superintendent of public instruction, in the end they found all their money was no match for the commitment and energy of thousands of CTA members who sent text messages, tweeted, posted on Facebook, and had countless conversations with friends and family to push Tony Thurmond to victory. You delivered a huge win for students and public schools.

Voters also resoundingly rejected Proposition 5, a tax scheme backed by the real estate industry (and practically no one else) that would have robbed our schools and the students we serve of $1 billion annually. Nationally, the #RedForEd movement helped elect hundreds of educators to office, including current and retired CTA members in several California races. We’re excited to work closely with Thurmond, Governor-elect Gavin Newsom, and all the new and returning members of the Legislature to ensure that all California students get the education they need and deserve, and that our schools have the support and resources to make that happen. We should all be extremely proud of the difference the solidarity of educators made in this election and what it means for our students.

That solidarity and family-like bond has also been on full display in the aftermath of the terrible November fires that devastated our state. I am thankful that my husband David and I were able to evacuate safely, and I’m inspired by the courageous actions of so many educators. Many CTA members and the students we serve lost their homes or their schools or, even more tragically, loved ones in the worst wildfires in California history. But like a family, CTA members responded with immediate help. In addition to the rapid relief CTA provided through our Disaster Relief Fund, our local chapters also provided direct and immediate assistance through GoFundMe efforts and on-the-ground material aid. In many cases educators temporarily housed displaced colleagues in their own homes.

Other CTA leaders, staff and I made multiple visits to the impacted areas to meet with members and provide assistance. The educators from Paradise demonstrated courage, integrity and compassion. Saving students’ lives, and even in the face of personal loss, immediately started working to get students back to a safe learning environment as soon as possible. This is what our union looks like!

As we enter the new year, I want to thank you for being part of this CTA family. Together, we’re continuing to accomplish great things for our students and for each other. The bond we all share means a bright future for public education in 2019 and beyond.

Eric C. Heins CTA PRESIDENT @ericheins