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By Julian Peeples

More than 800 educators spent summer vacation sharpening their skills and learning new ones at the 2021 CTA Summer Institute – Home Edition, held virtually this week.

With sessions and workshops in focused tracks including Instruction and Professional Development, Member Organizing, Bargaining Skills, School Finance, Communications and Economic Justice, Summer Institute provides educators with a robust toolbox to build power, fight for students and advocate for public education.

CTA President. E. Toby Boyd welcomes educators to Summer Institute.

“The tools that you take home after this week will help you make your local stronger,” said CTA President E. Toby Boyd during his welcome. “When we stand together, there’s nothing that can stop us.”

With the new school year set to start amid the ongoing global health crisis, Summer Institute opening keynote speaker Dr. Santiago Rincón-Gallardo discussed why educators must look at learning as a practice of freedom. As Chief Research Officer on educational researcher Michael Fullan’s consulting team, Rincón-Gallardo conducts research and advises leaders and educators interested in advancing whole system reform to transform teaching and learning across educational systems worldwide.

Dr. Channa Cook-Harvey led a session on using the science of learning & development to cultivate supportive classrooms post-COVID.

“These kind of broad-view, purpose-driven conversations are so important and too infrequent,” said David Cohen, a member of Palo Alto Educators Association.


A Visit from the Governor

Educators were joined on Summer Institute’s final day by Gov. Gavin Newsom, who expressed deep gratitude and empathy for all that educators gave and experienced during the pandemic. He underscored the historic victories accomplished together with CTA during the past year: record funding for public education, universal transitional kindergarten, community schools, and a focus on equity to close the Digital Divide and create a system that doesn’t leave any students behind.

“I’m really proud of the work we did together with Toby and the entire CTA Board to put together an unprecedented, historic budget in front of the California Legislature and to have them enthusiastically embrace (it),” Gov. Newsom said. “Thank you for making that happen.”

Newsom is a longtime friend of CTA and public schools, working families and communities. He has worked with educators to bring accountability and transparency to corporate charter schools, support educational and social justice, and protect workers’ safety and rights on the job. Boyd reminded educators to vote No in the Recall Election, explaining that the stakes are enormous for educators, our students and public education.

“This past year wasn’t easy, but it would’ve been a lot worse without the leadership of Gov. Newsom,” Boyd said. “Now it’s up to us. We must do whatever we can to oppose the recall and vote No on Sept. 14.”


The Growing Delta Variant Problem

As California’s 6 million students return to school in the coming month, the sharp increase in COVID-19 cases due to the more contagious and dangerous Delta Variant is at the forefront of the minds of educators and parents alike. Boyd said CTA is monitoring the constantly evolving situation with the safety of students and educators remaining the guiding priority.

“We need to take this serious. We have to make sure it is safe,” Boyd said. “We continue to urge educators, school staff and eligible students to get vaccinated. Vaccines, along with multiple layers of safety protections, are our primary and most important defense against COVID and key to ensuring safe in-person instruction can continue this fall. We all have a responsibility to be part of this solution for our students and our communities.”


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