By Mike Myslinski
State Superintendent Tom Torlakson and company sing a version of "Hello, Dolly!" in honor of Secretary-Treasurer Gail Mendes. Delegates wear T-shirts honoring President Sanchez.
Building on the solidarity and energy from CTA members’ successful week of state budget protests in May, State Council delegates met in Los Angeles in early June and approved the second phase of the CTA State of Emergency campaign to pressure lawmakers to extend taxes to avoid the catastrophe of an all-cuts budget.
In the short term, the CTA mobilizing plan targets key Republicans and seeks to enlist “Summer Warriors” — educators who will continue to advocate this summer and pressure lawmakers to pass the tax extensions, preventing deeper cuts to schools, colleges and other vital public services. The long-term goals include educating communities about the need to change tax structures to “achieve adequate, stable and ongoing funding for public education and essential public services.”
In his final speech to Council delegates, CTA President David A. Sanchez spoke of the calamity that awaits public schools if current taxes are not extended by July 1 as part of the state budget. “Without those tax extensions, we are still looking at another devastating $5 billion in cuts,” he said. “Obviously, that means more layoffs, more class size increases, and fewer instruction days. That’s why we can’t stop urging our lawmakers — especially our targeted Republican lawmakers — to pass temporary tax extensions.”
Phase 2 of the State of Emergency campaign is integrated with a California labor field program and includes labor coalition actions. In addition, Phase 2 includes action themes for days of the week that give chapters across the state the flexibility to get involved: Mail postcards Monday; Toll-free Tuesdays to call lawmakers; We Are One Wednesdays for labor-targeted phone banks and CTA member-to-member calling; Texting Thursdays, to reach out to friends; Field Office Fridays, for visits or protests at legislators’ local field offices; and Strolling Saturdays, for labor-targeted canvass walks.
The entire Phase 2 plan can be found under the “Resources” tab at www.castateofemergency.com.
President Sanchez says farewell
After four years and two terms as president of CTA, David A. Sanchez praised State Council delegates and educators across the state for rising up time and time again to protect and defend public education.
Sanchez recalled how, since he first took office in 2007 as the first Latino president of CTA, CTA members had mobilized and stopped a harmful ESEA reauthorization authored by Congressman George Miller, and how the CTA-sponsored and teacher-led Quality Education Investment Act (QEIA) had brought new resources and new hope to thousands of at-risk students.
Over the years, CTA members have pushed back again and again. Sanchez recounted the success of several campaigns against state cuts to education, such as the massive State of Emergency effort this spring, Pink Friday in 2009, and the statewide “Cuts Hurt” bus tour of 2008. “Fighting for our members and for public education was the right thing to do. It always is.”
It was an honor to represent educators, he said. “It’s easier to lead when you know the people behind you have your back, and I could not have done it without your commitment and support.”
Appearing at Council, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson praised the skills of Sanchez during a special tribute. Torlakson was joined by Assembly Speaker John Perez, former CTA President Barbara E. Kerr, and California labor leaders and activists. CTA President-elect Dean E. Vogel, who takes office on June 26, praised Sanchez for helping him learn the ropes.
“I feel incredibly prepared to take over the leadership of this organization,” said Vogel, who has served as CTA vice president the past four years.
Carolyn Doggett has outrage and optimism
Attacks on public education are cause for outrage, but hopeful signs such as CTA’s teacher-led reforms and the progressive work of the union’s Teacher Evaluation Workgroup are cause for optimism as well, CTA Executive Director Carolyn Doggett told Council delegates.
Doggett said that CTA members have proved “time and time again that through organizing and collective action, we can control our destiny and build a better future for our students, our schools, and our communities.”
She shared the outrage expressed by Kathie Marshall, a middle school teacher in Los Angeles Unified School District with nearly 40 years of experience, who wrote a remarkable column that appeared in Education Week and the Washington Post this spring.
In the column, Marshall writes: “I’m outraged that the workforce at my large high-needs middle school, where we accomplished the nearly unheard-of goal of increasing the state Academic Performance Index score by 47 points last year, continues to be gutted.” Marshall says politicians have helped wreck California’s economy to the point where our schools are suffering. And she decries the indifference to her low-income students who are “expected to perform better than ever while being provided with fewer resources in and out of schools.”