Volume 46 Number 1
We face the same issues
As the newly elected CTA board member representing higher education, Theresa Montaño wants to make sure all voices of higher education are heard within the 325,000-member California Teachers Association.
But as a former middle- and high-school teacher in Los Angeles and Denver, Colo., she also wants to make sure that college faculty within CTA understand the issues facing K-12 educators as well.
“We need to bring everyone together because we face the same issues. Issues of privatization, inadequate funding, and providing opportunities to marginalized students are concerns for all of us.”
An associate professor of Chicano Studies and Education at California State University, Northridge (CSUN), Montaño represents the voices of the California Faculty Association and the Community College Association on the CTA board. Montaño is familiar with that role having previously served for six years as an NEA board director representing higher education in California. She was also president of her local faculty association until her election to the CTA board in June, and remains on the board of the California Faculty Association.
An active unionist, Montaño left her high school teaching position to become a staff member of United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), where she worked in professional development and as an area representative for nine years. She is a strong believer that, in addition to advocating for decent salaries and working conditions, our union must also focus on professional development for its members.
“We need to make a concerted effort to reach out to teachers and faculty. I hope we can do that much sooner.”
Committed to social justice
Montaño’s commitment to social justice and to broadening access to higher education for underserved students led her to pursue her doctorate in education at UCLA. Her areas of interest as a professor of education at CSUN include Teacher Activism, Latino Educational Equity; Critical Multicultural Education; and Bilingual/ELL education.
“Higher education is where I work and advocate, but public education is my concern. Right now, I think public unions are the only vehicles to make changes in the public sector, but we have to exert that power,” she said.
One thing that higher education faculty can do that their colleagues in K-12 cannot is to mobilize students and get them to vote in the upcoming election, Montaño said. She cited the election of Barack Obama as president and the March 4 rallies this year as examples of renewed student activism.
“If you organize young people, it will make a difference. They are fearless and they are risk takers,” she said.