Across the country this year, we have witnessed a powerful and dramatic wave of walkouts by teachers, who forced the hands of their elected officials to do the right thing and provide more funding and resources for education. In so-called “right to work” states where teachers don’t have the ability to collectively bargain their contracts, educators stood up for their students and their profession. And they won!
And America tuned in every night to see teachers protesting, walking out, and taking over the statehouses in West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Arizona and Colorado.
NEA President Lily Eskelsen García was there among them. Of West Virginia she said, “By walking out, walking in, rallying, and filling the state Capitol, educators are making it abundantly clear that they expect to be treated with respect and dignity.”
For several days, Americans were focused on the conditions of teaching and learning in states throughout the country, particularly in Oklahoma. They tuned in to the nightly news to see classrooms with broken chairs, teachers waving outdated textbooks that were duct-taped together, and educators selling blood plasma to make ends meet.
California remains integral to this national battle. California educators are the ones standing up to those who want to privatize schools, strip us of our rights, turn teachers into a militia, and deport parents and separate families. In this critical election year, we are redrawing the lines and holding firm for all of our students. If you want our support, you must first commit to support all children in all ZIP codes and their right to a quality public education.
Finally, we have welcome news for our public schools and colleges. Thanks to our support of Prop. 30 in 2012 and Prop. 55 in 2016, and to the leadership of Gov. Jerry Brown, we are looking at a state budget that will fully fund the Local Control Funding Formula two years ahead of schedule. Also significant is the certification of the Proposition 98 minimum funding guarantee and the continuous appropriation of the LCFF. This creates certainty for educators and students in future years.
June is LGBT Pride Month, a reminder that among the greatest gifts we pass along to students are the values of inclusion, self-worth, dignity, individuality, community and belonging. Our students may have to struggle with their studies at times — that’s what it is to be a student — but they should never have to struggle with being who they are.
We at CTA pass along similar values to our members. Educators may have to struggle with the everyday challenges of being the best teacher they can be, but in the larger battles of their profession, they are never alone.
This union is our power. We are CTA.
Eric C. Heins