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By Julian Peeples

For the first time in our union’s 157-year history, CTA President E. Toby Boyd addressed the State Council of Education virtually, due to COVID-19 social distancing requirements. Here are five highlights from his speech:

  1. Black Lives Matter. Boyd shared his thoughts about the murder of George Floyd by police, his experiences as a Black man in America and our duty as educators to fight racism, police brutality and white supremacy in our classrooms and our communities.
    “It’s all right to cry. It’s all right to show your anger. But words are not all we can do. We need results and we can’t wait any longer,” Boyd said. “Change is going to happen and CTA is going to be a part of it. We have to be.”
  2. School Can Reopen Only with Proper Health and Safety Measures. Boyd reiterated that public schools will only be able to reopen across the state if adequate health and safety measures are taken to protect students and staff—in addition to teaching and learning flexibility, a seat at the table for educators in all decisions, and with the full resources needed to provide the education all students need.
    “We cannot open the schools until we know they are safe for our students and our members,” Boyd said. “There is NO compromising that.”
  3. Amplifying Educator Voices. As discussions continue about how to safely resume school next year and other vital needs for our students and communities, educator voices are in the room at the highest levels of government. Boyd was appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom to his Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery and is also the co-chair of the new State Senate Subcommittee on Loss of Learning and Safe Recovery from the Disruption and Devastation Caused by COVID-19, while CTA Board of Directors member and Los Angeles teacher Erika Jones was appointed to the California Department of Education Task Force on Reopening Schools to ensure that our students are protected and educators’ concerns about safely reopening schools are heard loud and clear. Having these strong voices at the table is especially important considering the massive funding cuts being considered for education.
    “If you think we can open schools with these proposed budget cuts, you must have bumped your head,” Boyd said. “We must find a solution!”
  4. Putting Schools & Communities First. The Schools and Communities First initiative will be on the November ballot—a huge opportunity to close tax loopholes and reclaim $12 billion a year in funding for public education and community services. Boyd said passing SCF in November is even more important now that schools and local services are facing pandemic-related funding cuts.
    “We’re going to need all of your help. We need to tell everyone we know to help us put our Schools and Communities First!” said Boyd.
  5. We Are Not OK. And We Are Ready to Fight. Battling through tears, Boyd said it is time to fight for the equality and equity we believe in—our very future depends on it.
    “My heart breaks for what we have been through. My heart breaks for what George Floyd’s family has been through and countless families before,” Boyd said. “We can make change, but we have to be willing to fight. We can’t wait any longer.”