CTA President Dean E. Vogel
That’s a great question, but it’s difficult to think about June because we need to get through the madness of May first — testing, grades, the proms, the last weeks of school. You know the drill. So before we get to June, let’s talk about May. Please take a moment to thank a colleague on May 14, California Day of the Teacher. Seek out colleagues who have made a difference in your life and thank them. And if by chance you are still in touch with one of your own teachers, well, it’s never too late to say, “Thank you.” And it’s certainly never too late to hear it. As a teacher, your work is inspiring students every day, and it’s improving our public schools every day. Thank you!
I also need to take a moment and thank your colleagues and elected leaders who are delegates to CTA’s State Council of Education. Last month they took positions on 117 pieces of education legislation. One of the issues discussed was streamlining the teacher discipline and dismissal appeal process with the goals of keeping students safe, saving time and money, and ensuring due process rights for educators. We’ve worked with the governor, education stakeholders and lawmakers, and AB 215 was recently introduced by Assembly Member Buchanan to make this happen.
That brings me right to June, because who we elect impacts the work we do for public schools in the Legislature. As educators, our collective voice matters, and as voters, it may matter even more, because we vote in greater numbers than the general public. That’s a good thing, and it’s why CTA is always big on getting out the vote on Election Day, especially the vote of our members. The June 3 primary election is no exception. Thankfully, we won’t have to fight initiatives attacking the secure retirements of educators and other public employees, or initiatives attacking our due process rights. But it’s vital we turn out to re-elect Tom Torlakson as superintendent of public instruction.
To do our jobs, we need lawmakers and state leaders who understand public education and understand how schools and colleges actually work. We need people like Tom Torlakson. Tom is one of us, and he’s been a voice on public education’s front lines for a long while now. He’s a lifelong educator who joined CTA in authoring the Quality Education Investment Act, a plan that improved student learning and is hailed as one of the most successful school turnaround programs in the country.
Standing up for a commonsense approach to the Common Core, Tom encouraged the governor and the Legislature to take bold steps with AB 484 to ensure our state, students and educators are better prepared for implementing the new Common Core State Standards. Suspending the high-stakes decisions tied to state testing while the state overhauls its assessments and accountability system and aligns it to the new standards just makes sense. And Tom was a leader in making it happen. Tom is always on the side of students and educators. Always.
One of his opponents is a former investment banker from Los Angeles, backed by wealthy school privatizers, including billionaire Eli Broad. Where Wall Street billionaires see schools as profit centers, Tom sees schools as community centers that hold our neighborhoods together.
There is concern about a low turnout in June, so it’s particularly important we vote, and we must encourage our friends and family to vote as well. Because of the low turnout, our votes become significantly more important. Between now and Election Day, you can have a critical impact: You can start talking with other voters about who is best for our public schools and colleges. You can let them know who educators want as superintendent of public instruction. You are the education experts, and your voices are respected and trusted in every community. Voters need to hear from you. Let them know you are a “Teacher for Tom Torlakson” or an “Energized Educator,” whatever works for you (alliteration always helps with memory).
Our 150-year mission has been to ensure all children have the opportunity for a great public education and a successful future. As we continue to do this very important work, we’re fortunate to have Tom Torlakson as our superintendent of public instruction. Let’s help keep him there.
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