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By Julian Peeples

CTA President E. Toby Boyd delivered a heartfelt speech today to the nearly 800 members of CTA State Council, sharing his thoughts on the longest year ever and the power of our solidarity.

Here are a dozen takeaways:

 

  1. What a Difference a Year Makes: We joined our voices together to protect educators, students and families from unsafe conditions and fought for state guidance rooted in public health, access to vaccines and the funding needed to ensure the health of our school communities. We did it together – even when the pandemic kept us apart. 
  1. Advocacy Never Stopped: We never stopped sharing our voices with elected officials. These leaders heard CTA loud and clear. The governor proposed a historic $85.8 billion in Prop. 98 funding for public education. That’s nearly $15 billion more than last year at a time when our schools need it most. And it appears additional revenues will be added in the May Revise.
  1. Help is on the Way: President Biden’s American Rescue Plan is expected to provide 170 billion dollars to public schools nationwide – with California public schools and community colleges set to receive 20 billion dollars to help them recover from the pandemic.

    Photo by Joe Brusky / Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association

  1. #StopAsianHate: We call out these vile acts of racism and we condemn the violence against our AAPI communities. We mourn with our AAPI family and we support you in the continued fight against racism and for equity and equality.
  1. Our Home Should Be Safe: Please join me in committing to create supportive classrooms for all, bring awareness to anti-Asian racism, and let our students and families know we stand with the AAPI community and all people fighting hate – because our words, actions and persistence matter! 
  1. We Can Do Better: It’s going to take some new thinking in the Capitol to address the needs in our communities. Something is seriously wrong when our state has the most millionaires in the country but more than a third of Californians live near or below the poverty line – that’s more than 14 million people struggling to survive!
  1. #HappyBirthdayDolores: Today is Dolores Huerta Day, held on her birthday in honor of all the living legend has done to build a just world. Dolores turns 91 today. I ask you to join me in wishing her a happy birthday by going to CTA’s Twitter and Facebook pages and sharing our Birthday post, or post your own message. Be sure to use the hashtags #HappyBirthdayDolores and #WeAreCTA. We want to send her some educator love for all she has done over the years. 
  1. We Made a Difference: For more than a year now, CTA has been advocating for the multi-layered health and safety measures, and necessary funding to return to the classroom. Throughout the state, educators and our local unions have been a voice of sanity, defending community health, while some elected officials and small but very loud groups clamor for schools to physically reopen no matter the risk. 
  1. If You See Something, Say Something: It’s crucial that we uphold that trust by ensuring school districts follow the health guidelines to keep our students and communities safe. Immediately report safety concerns to district management, call the School COVID Hotline and file a report with the State Safe Schools for All Team. Enforcement of health regulations and our MOUs is the next step to ensuring the safety of our schools and communities.
  1. Cancel The Tests: Following the federal education department’s notice that no blanket testing waivers from states would be approved, NEA stepped up the fight issuing an open letter calling for standardized tests to be canceled during the pandemic. With students still navigating the most difficult year of learning in modern history, being forced to take a stressful test is the last thing they need. Add your name to the letter by visiting nea.org/cancelthetests.
  1. Ethnic Studies Now: We have a duty to teach our students about their ancestral legacies and to celebrate them every day. Culture is essential in the fight for racial justice and equity, and it is the right of our students to have access to a quality ethnic studies curriculum.
  2. We Did It, Together: Through the surges and uncertainty and sickness and fear, our unity has kept us strong, and through our solidarity we are optimistic for a brighter tomorrow. What a difference a year makes, and we made it together.

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