By Dina Martin
Turning out the vote for CTA-supported candidates and initiatives was the take-home message from CTA President David A. Sanchez in his remarks to CTA’s State Council of Education on Saturday, Oct. 24, a little more than a week before Election Day.
“We are in the home stretch, and the outcome will impact students, schools, our profession and our union. We have to keep it up. This election is all about turnout.”
Sanchez also noted that this year California’s budget was 100 days late and $4.3 billion short in what was owed to schools and community colleges. “California may still be in hard economic times, but we can’t say to a first-grader, ‘Come back in three or four years when the recession is over, and then we’ll be able to teach you to read.’ California students deserve better. That’s why this election is so important.”
Hundreds of State Council members participated in California’s largest election phone bank that afternoon, making 8,700 calls to voters throughout California. The calls were all made to urge voters to cast their ballots for Proposition 24, the Tax Fairness Act; Jerry Brown for governor; and Tom Torlakson for state superintendent of public instruction.
While Council members made their calls, the number of contacted voters as well as live text messages about the election were projected on two Jumbotron screens in the ballroom. More than 700 members who signed up to receive special election texts from CTAVOTES also texted in messages about the importance of getting out the vote.
“It was a tremendous effort,” said Sanchez, who made some 50 calls himself. He added that members would continue to phone-bank in their local chapters right up to Election Day.
CTA Executive Director Carolyn Doggett — who has been a 15-year classroom teacher, a local chapter president, and president of NEA-Alaska — said that she has never seen attacks on educators and their unions like the kind we are witnessing today.
Whether it is education reform, our pensions, the right to bargain, or using our dues as we see fit in this election, the “blame game” is running rampant, Doggett told Council. She cited several recent developments, including the article “How to Fix Our Schools: A Manifesto” by Joel Klein, Michelle Rhee and others; the recent film Waiting for Superman; and charges by gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman that blame teachers unions for problems in America’s schools.
“Rather than sit back and let the blame game go on,” said Doggett, “CTA must take charge and define these issues in our terms. When it comes to school reform, teachers must be part of the discussion and must continue to advance reforms we know will work. That is why CTA established the Teacher Evaluation Workgroup, so that CTA can set
the agenda in the evaluation discussion.
“CTA must continue to show that resources matter, and that teacher-driven reform works. We are already leading the effort in education reform with the Quality Education Investment Act and the Institute for Teaching, both of which are demonstrating success.”
In other action, State Council:
- Authorized up to $1 million from the Initiative Fund to support CTA’s ballot initiatives.
- Elected Doreen McGuire-Grigg as NEA Director, District 1, and Barbara Franklin as CTA/ABC Committee member, District N.
- Decided that a forum for CTA executive officer candidates will take place at the next State Council in February. Members may send their questions in advance to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Observed presentations on the 10th anniversary of the CTA César E. Chávez Memorial Education Awards program and Breast Cancer Awareness.
- Expressed interest in encouraging members to see or arrange for a screening of Race to Nowhere, a documentary about America’s schooling system that combats the simple solutions presented by the recent film Waiting for Superman.
- Approved a bylaw amendment limiting service on CTA’s Board of Directors to three three-year terms.
In addition, the Retirement Committee created a useful flier to help members debunk myths about teachers’ retirement benefits, and various committees participated in the Teacher Evaluation Survey to provide input for the CTA Teacher Evaluation Workgroup.