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I alwasy love the start of the new school year. The excitement and promise of a fresh start inspire and energize our return – even if summer break didn’t feel quite long enough.

As a kindergarten teacher, I find it so rewarding to be that first friendly face to welcome our youngest learners to their classroom community of wonder, and support the start of their educational journey. Back to School is such a special time for all of us, our students and school communities, and this year there is a lot to be excited about.

Over the summer, the governor signed a budget that provides record funding for K-14 education, including a 13-percent increase in ongoing funding for K-12 schools and a 6.56-percent Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for community colleges. That’s money to reduce class sizes; hire school nurses, school counselors, school psychologists and education support professionals; and increase salaries to recruit and retain classroom educators.

There’s additional funding for special education, art and music, afterschool programs, transportation, career technical education, and early childhood education as we continue to build toward Pre-K for all. The state also increased its historic investment in community schools by another $1.1 billion – providing additional resources as we re-imagine public education and address long-standing inequities through family engagement, community partnerships and shared decision-making.

In many ways, CTA’s work on community schools is just beginning because we know creating schools that engage students and disrupt poverty requires ongoing educator, community and parent engagement. Through organizing with our partners, these efforts will help make our push for educator- and community-led schools a reality for all.

It’s another example of how educators believe in better and work hard to make it possible. And we’re lucky to have elected leaders like Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, who has been a true friend to students and educators as we weathered unprecedented times together. I hope you’ll join me in working to re-elect Thurmond this November. Visit our website for all of CTA’s election recommendations.

The last few school years have been anything but normal, and we have dealt with and overcome every obstacle, together. As we embark on another new beginning, let’s continue to support and lean on each other to advocate for our students and fight for the schools they deserve. As Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai said, “One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world.”

Thanks for all you do and have a meaningful school year.

E. Toby Boyd

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