Contact: Mike Myslinski at 408-921-5769 or Claudia Briggs at 916-296-4087
SAN FRANCISCO – CTA kicked off national teacher appreciation week here today at a news conference with Bay Area educators to honor our 150 years of advocating for all California students, teachers and public schools. Vice President Eric C. Heins unveiled a statewide television, radio, print and web ad campaign about CTA’s historic achievements and commitment to students that reach back to the Civil War era.
The event noted how CTA’s founding in 1863 in San Francisco and our 15 decades of advocacy for public schools and dedicated teachers helped our public education system build California’s economy, which is now the ninth-largest in the world.
“This is our teachable moment,” said Heins, a 21-year educator in the East Bay and vice president of the 325,000-member California Teachers Association. “As the ad campaign reminds us all, our public schools may have changed over time, but the extraordinary commitment of educators to giving students a chance to follow their dreams will never change.”
The ads can be viewed at www.cta.org.
The CTA ads all stress that, for 150 years, California’s educators have stood up for what happens in our classrooms, and that CTA has been their voice. The three-week ad campaign includes print ads in eight languages in more than 47 ethnic media newspapers, website ads, and radio and TV spots on scores of stations in all major media markets.
“Today, our values of fairness, public service and commitment to all of our children remain exactly the same,” CTA President Dean E. Vogel says in one radio ad. “And that’s why the California Teachers Association paid for this message – celebrating 150 years advocating for all students, educators – and our public schools.”
Bay Area educators joined CTA officers today in San Francisco to discuss the joys of teaching and learning.
Trish Gorham, a second-grade teacher who is also president of the Oakland Education Association, said the surprises from Oakland Unified School District students are what keep her going. “Even after 30 years I get surprised when I read to second graders and listen to how they respond,” Gorham said. “There’s always a new perspective. Teaching is enjoying the unexpected. Every day is truly new and exciting.”
Dennis Kelly, a 45-year teacher in San Francisco Unified and president of United Educators of San Francisco, said he is proud that his daughter, Edith Salvatore, is now a teacher at a public school in Redwood City, and that his son, Nathanael Kelly, is a paraprofessional at a San Francisco school.
This teacher appreciation week is a reminder of the magic of the teaching profession and how it’s so satisfying, said Terri Jackson, a sixth-grade educator in the West Contra Costa Unified School District.
“It’s about the students I’m teaching now who light up when they learn a concept,” said Jackson, who also sits on the CTA Board of Directors. “It’s about when former students return and say what I taught them helped in their education. It’s about the incredible delight I have knowing that Denise, a student I taught in my first year, is now teaching in the same classroom where I first taught.”
The new TV ads include several Bay Area educators in classrooms and stress CTA’s commitment over the decades to reducing class sizes, closing the achievement gap and to giving every student a well-rounded education. Archival photos of public schools are contrasted with scenes of modern classrooms. It was a thrill to volunteer to be in one TV ad for New Haven Unified School District sixth-grade teacher Junelle Mallari in Union City.
“I was very honored to take part in the ads,” Mallari said. “It's not every year we celebrate a 150th anniversary! I believe CTA is so important in advocating for teachers and ensuring quality education for our students. I'm proud of the work CTA has done since its inception.”
The “educational society” group that became CTA was founded by crusading state schools chief John Swett in 1863.
Generations of CTA members won the state’s first class size legislation in 1895; a 1927 court victory preventing the firing of a female teacher simply for getting married; the state’s landmark 1988 law establishing minimum funding levels for public schools; and the passage of the CTA-sponsored Quality Education Investment Act (QEIA) of 2006 to ensure that at-risk students can thrive.
Today’s news conference was at a high-achieving QEIA school, Miraloma Elementary, that’s benefiting from the landmark, teacher-driven reform program, the largest of its kind in the nation. The QEIA law provides nearly $3 billion over eight years for extra funding at about 400 at-risk schools. The funding is for proven reforms like smaller class sizes, better teacher training and more collaboration time.
“Miraloma is about progress and the future,” CTA Secretary-Treasurer Mikki Cichocki-Semo said at the news conference about the impact of QEIA funding. “Test scores never tell the whole story of a school, but look at this. In 2005, Miraloma had an Academic Performance Index score of 653. Now their API score is 884 – soaring well above the ideal API goal of 800 that the state sets for all schools.”
Miraloma teacher Patrick Mendonca credits QEIA for the fact that there are only 20 students in his second-grade class.
“QEIA has clearly made a difference in keeping our class sizes small,” Mendonca said. “Everything we do here for our students has a better chance of succeeding if we do it in a classroom with 20 students versus 25 or 30.”
With California schools at a crossroads again after more than $20 billion in cuts in recent years, this week takes on special meaning: Tuesday, May 7, is national teacher day; Wednesday, May 8, is the 31st annual California Day of the Teacher; and Thursday, May 9, is CTA’s official 150th birthday, and when the California Legislature honors teachers. The CTA theme for the state’s Day of the Teacher is “California teachers: Honoring our past. Guiding the future.”
The 325,000-member CTA is affiliated with the 3.2 million-member National Education Association.