I AM A KINDERGARTEN TEACHER. Even after four years as CTA president, I am and will always be a classroom educator – working with our youngest learners to set the foundation for their educational journey.
When I left a previous career in banking, I knew I wanted to work in education. I was only a short time in before I realized that kindergarten had chosen me whether I liked it or not. And while there was certainly an adjustment period, I found my calling in a room full of wide-eyed, wondering youngsters.
It’s a lot like how I view my time as CTA president. I ran for the position to be a voice for all members as we led the fight for the schools our students deserve. And before I finished a full year in office, we plunged into a global pandemic that included challenges never before faced by educators. This required all of us to learn and grow together to be the educators and caring adults our students needed, and some of us to answer the call to be the leaders that the crisis demanded.
As educators, CTA members and Americans, we’re all part of something bigger than ourselves, working together for better for our students, our union and our country. By ourselves, we are only capable of so much, but united we are a massive force for progress and justice and the shared belief that the status quo is not good enough.
Each of us is a single star among 310,000 across California – classroom teachers, librarians, education support professionals, community college faculty and instructors, school psychologists, school nurses, speech language pathologists, school counselors and school social workers – shining bright every day to light a path for our students. And we’re all a part of a long legacy of educators who have been rising together to fight for what’s right since CTA’s founding in 1863.
From fighting for school funding for students of color and successfully ending sexist laws that discriminated against women, to standing against the racist and wrongful internment of Japanese Americans and defeating ballot initiatives that would have allowed teachers to be fired for being gay, time and again CTA has been on the right side of history. And together, we carry on that legacy and fighting spirit today, from proclaiming loudly that Black Lives Matter and rising as one to stop Asian hate and antisemitic prejudice, to defending our right to teach truth and creating schools that are safe and brave spaces for our LGBTQ+ students and educators.
And we’re not alone in this fight – united with fellow educators across the country as NEA, we are 3 million strong, leading the movement for thriving public schools as the cornerstone of our democracy. When we lift our voices in unison, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish.
I hope that every day as you are doing great work in our schools, you feel supported and empowered as a part of the CTA and NEA families, while we continue working to build a brighter tomorrow and fight for a more just society. It definitely helps me stand a little taller on days
when kindergarten isn’t as easy as 1-2-3.
Thank you for all that you do for our students and our union.
E. Toby Boyd