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Educators have faced unprecedented challenges over the past two years, and CTA members have risen to those challenges with inspiring strength and success. One thing that has proved true again and again is that our collective strength is a force to be reckoned with, and that local organizing works.

Whether it has been our work at the state level as we’ve fought to keep students and educators safe, or your strength in your local chapters as you’ve negotiated MOUs and contract agreements to accomplish the same goal, the successes we’ve had are directly attributable to collective power through organizing. Right now, lawmakers are considering a union-led proposal to restore paid COVID-19 sick leave.

The pandemic exposed many of the inequities and unsafe conditions workers across the country face, and has helped spur a union renaissance. Union workers have fared better than others. Support for unions is at its highest level in decades; according to a recent Gallup poll, 65 percent of Americans say they support unions, and more non-union workers than ever say they would be willing to join a union.

CTA has been part of that renaissance. In addition to our work during the pandemic, we’ve helped educators successfully organize new unions at charter schools and in previously unrepresented school districts. This inspiring work shows that the union movement is alive and well.

Currently, one of the most exciting efforts is organizing around community schools. CTA members have taken the lead on this issue, and it’s exciting to see the community schools model in California expand, especially with $3 billion in new state funding available over the next five years. If we do it right, California could see up to a third of our public schools become community schools.

CTA is working closely with state leaders, local chapters and community stakeholders to further this work. We see community schools as the future of public education. They are a unique vehicle to:

  • Improve public education in historically marginalized communities.
  • Address racial injustice.
  • Increase parent, youth and community involvement in schools.
  • Expand democratically shared leadership.
  • Initiate innovative approaches to learning.

The new year started with some good state budget news: The governor’s proposal once again provides record education funding for pre-K through community colleges. It means local educators will be able to negotiate uses for school funding that will benefit students and strengthen our profession and our schools.

We have tremendous opportunities ahead of us, but also some challenges. California is facing a severe educator shortage, exacerbated by the pandemic. We need to continue to organize against threats to public education, as extremists push for voucher schemes and try to rewrite history by taking honesty out of the curriculum.

Our organizing shows that we can move mountains when we work together. I’ve no doubt that we can meet these challenges, and that we can continue to organize for positive change in public education. Our union is healthy and strong. With your involvement, we’re even stronger.

E. Toby Boyd

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