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By Julian Peeples

After fighting together through the toughest 10 months our nation may ever have faced, CTA President E. Toby Boyd told the State Council of Education during his address this morning that he is filled with hope and optimism for what this year and beyond could bring.

Here are 12 takeaways from his speech:

  1. What. A. Week: “This week has been both joyful, and a little bittersweet. It comes after four years of divisions that were exposed and widened more deeply, on top of the most stressful 10 months any of us have ever experienced.”
  1. Witnessing History: “On Wednesday, President Joseph Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were sworn into office. I can’t begin to express the pride I felt in that moment, watching President Biden take the oath, and the promise that holds for our students and for all of us. I was filled with joy seeing for the first time in our history not only a woman, but a Black woman of South Asian descent, take the oath to the second highest office in the land.”

  1. Processing the Jan. 6 Insurrection: “The rioting and destruction of our symbol of democracy was hard to watch. Not only the violence of the insurrection, but the fact that it was aided by our president and other elected officials. I know many of you had to talk about these events with your students. I hope you have utilized some of the great resources from CTA and NEA.” 
  1. Let’s Climb the Hill Together: “To quote California poet Amanda Gorman, who read this poem at the inauguration:
    We are striving to forge a union with purpose
    To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man
    And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us but what stands before us …
    The new dawn blooms as we free it,
    For there is always light,
    if only we’re brave enough to see it
    If only we’re brave enough to be it.
    That really is the challenge for all of us. As educators, as union activists and as community leaders.”

  1. Again, Only When It’s Safe: “CTA has remained consistent not only in our call to reopen schools only when it’s safe, but also in what it will take to safely reopen. Safely reopening our schools means there are multiple safety layers in place. Smaller class sizes for social distancing, good ventilation systems, testing and tracing programs for staff and students, transparent school safety plans, statewide accountability and enforcement, mask wearing, hand washing and yes, access to the vaccine. No single measure stops the spread, but it’s the layer upon layer that greatly decreases the risk to our students, ourselves and others.”
  1. “Safe Schools for All” Needs to Mean ALL: “CTA has been joined by school administrators, school boards, parents, community groups and lawmakers in questioning the governor’s Safe Schools for All proposal. At a legislative hearing this week, lawmakers expressed concerns about the quick timeline in the middle of surge, the use of incentive money when actually all schools need additional support, and the lack of focus on equity and supporting those students and communities that have been hit the hardest. It was pretty clear that the Legislature will have some changes.”
  1. Stop Saying “Learning Loss”: “We all know distance learning is not ideal. It’s not what any of us want to be doing. But let’s not STIGMATIZE a generation of students with the words ‘learning loss.’ Learning is happening. Teaching is happening. Let’s talk about RESILIENCE and RECOVERY support for students that need extra help. And as educators, let’s lead those efforts!”
  1. Your Vote Matters: “President Biden has announced additional supports for students, schools and families as states and communities struggle to address the pandemic. He’s called for $165 billion for K-12 schools and higher education, as well as resources to states to prevent layoffs and to reimburse for COVID testing and tracing programs in schools. What a difference a few days can make!”
  1. Immediate Positive Change: “The Biden-Harris administration has been busy: President Biden signed an executive order extending federal, non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ students. stopped construction on the border wall and announced an immigration reform plan that includes the ability for DACA beneficiaries to apply for a Green Card immediately. This is such welcome news for so many of our students, their families and our colleagues!”
  2. Welcome Budget News: “This month, Gov. Newsom introduced his proposed budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year, and thanks to higher-than-expected state revenues, it includes record spending for schools—almost $86 billion for Prop. 98 school funding. Lawmakers are listening to you, and it’s paying off for your students!”
  3. The Struggle for Better Continues: “Whether it’s defending democracy, ensuring a free public education for all students or demanding that Black Lives Matter, I’m proud that CTA is part of the struggle and we will be until a struggle is no longer necessary.”
  1. Thank You for Believing: “Thank you for being a part of the change, and a better future for your students and for us all. Let’s seize the tremendous opportunities now before us and make 2021 a new beginning for our students and for our country. I really believe the future is bright.”