By Dina Martin
NEA President Dennis Van Roekel (second from left) joins CTA Vice President Dean Vogel, Secretary-Treasurer Gail Mendes, and President David A. Sanchez at State Council.
Although the governor promised to protect public education funding in his State of the State address earlier this month, his budget would actually cut $2.4 billion from K-12 schools and community colleges, CTA President David A. Sanchez told State Council at its January meeting. “This is on top of the $17 billion in cuts we’ve endured over the last two years.”
The governor’s proposed budget is just more gimmicks and tricks that involve moving money from one program to another. Still, Sanchez said, it’s not entirely fair to blame the governor when the entire state’s economy is “in the tank,” with the highest unemployment rate since the Great Depression. And so far, the Legislature has refused to show any willingness to raise revenues, deal with our failing tax structure, or require big corporations to pay their fair share of taxes.
Sanchez urged Council to take the lead in planning activities for “Start the Day for Students” — a statewide day of action on March 4 to support public education. He encouraged Council to promote activities such as staging before-school leafleting and protests, and even coordinating a school disaster drill with an event to demonstrate education funding is “a disaster.” (Ideas for activities can be found at www.standupforschools.org.)
“On March 4, we have an opportunity to mobilize with other unions up and down the state in a massive protest against further education cuts and for changing the debate around the need for additional revenues,” said Sanchez.
Some of those revenues may be obtained by closing corporate tax loopholes and rescinding the $2 billion in tax breaks that were given to big corporations and wealthy oil companies last year.
“When the state is slashing billions from public education, cutting health care for poor children and raising college fees, corporations and oil companies should not be getting tax breaks,” said Sanchez. “In these tough economic times, everyone must be paying their fair share.”
March 4, Sanchez said, will be “a day for all of us — parents, administrators, school board members, college faculty, education support professionals and teachers — to be united against the state budget cuts that are destroying a generation of students.”
Amid news of the governor’s anemic budget proposal and a downward spiraling economy, State Council took positions on five initiatives that may be heading toward the ballot in November, and authorized up to $4 million from the initiative fund to support those positions.
Council unanimously voted to support two measures that would repeal corporate tax loopholes bestowed by the Legislature a year ago and require corporate executives to get stockholder approval for annual political spending budgets.
“Big corporations are paying less, while middle-class families continue to pay more,” said Sanchez. “Lawmakers can’t continue to give breaks to large corporations — without any requirements for these companies to create new jobs —and should require corporate executives to make their stockholders aware of the money they pledge toward political endeavors.”
Council voted to oppose two “paycheck deception” measures called the Public Employee Paycheck Protection Act and the Public Employee Payroll Deduction Act, which would silence the political voices of union members. California voters have already rejected such measures twice, in 1996 and 2005. Council also opposed the New Public Employees Benefits Reform Act for its blatant attacks on pensions.
Council members also debated whether to support the California Democracy Act, an initiative that would eliminate the two-thirds vote by the Legislature needed to pass the state budget. Council delegates decided to ensure that the initiative went through the Political Involvement Committee like other proposals, and they will take a vote at the next Council meeting in March.
Health care bill
In spite of the recent change in political wind in Washington, NEA President Dennis Van Roekel remained hopeful that a national health care bill will emerge, and he thanked State Council for CTA’s help in a nationwide calling blitz to Congress to oppose an excise tax on health care benefits.
Van Roekel said it showed the strength of organized labor “to change the impact on working families.”
Although there are things he doesn’t like about the position of the Obama administration, Van Roekel said he’s already had more meetings with the White House than former NEA President Reg Weaver had with the Bush administration in Weaver’s six years in office.
In other actions, State Council:
- Elected Ron Edwards as NEA Director, District 15; Roberto Rodriguez as CTA/ABC Committee Member At-Large; and waived the ballot to elect KC Walsh as NEA Director, District 4; Carol Mathews as NEA Director, District 5; and Sergio Martinez as NEA Director, District 13.
- Voted on a list of friendly incumbent candidates to support in upcoming primary elections for state Assembly and Senate. Council also recommended that the list be available on CTA’s members-only website. Previously “friendly” incumbents who voted for state Sen. Gloria Romero’s Race to the Top bill — a bill CTA opposed — will be re-interviewed before a decision to recommend or not is reached.
- Celebrated “Serve Up a Good Book,” the theme for the upcoming Read Across America Day March 2, by welcoming Will Terry, illustrator of this year’s book, Armadilly Chili.
- Recognized Rachel Jarvis, a recipient of CTA’s 2009 Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Scholarship.
- Recognized two chapters, United Teachers Los Angeles and San Joaquin Delta College CTA, for winning the Jose Colmenares Award for their outstanding communications programs.
Participation in census count will help California
Related Tags: Volume 14 Issue 5, Educator, Inside Educator, Action, Advocacy, Awareness, Budget, Community, Family, Organize, Parents, Protest, Student, Teacher, Union,