Hear Us Roar: #RedForEd!
California educators have a long history of standing up for their students, profession, communities and one another. Our movement has drawn tremendous strength from colleagues’ recent actions in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina and Washington.
But what made (and is still making) #RedForEd in California so potent is a winning strategy based on bargaining for the common good: Giving students the public education they deserve, and educators the tools they need, benefit the entire community, not just our members.
We’ve seen this with multiple CTA locals across the state, where we have worked hard to build relationships with parents and community and a network of support around the common good.
“Time and again, we show that our unity is unbreakable, our solidarity is invincible, and our collective action is unstoppable when we stand together,” says CTA President Eric Heins. “When we fight together, we win!”
The power of educators’ unity, action and shared sacrifice was never clearer than when some 60,000 educators and community members converged at Los Angeles City Hall on Jan. 18, 2019 (above). Years of frustration over reprehensible classroom conditions – class sizes of 45 or more students, 40 percent of schools with a nurse only one day a week, inadequate funding for key programs such as early childhood education and special education – had boiled over, and the protesters would stand for it no more. After six days on the strike line, United Teachers Los Angeles’ (UTLA) tentative agreement with the school district won commitments to reduce class sizes and significantly increase support staff like counselors, in addition to a salary increase.
The strike in Oakland saw 3,000 Oakland Education Association (OEA) members stand in unity for their students, and inspired a massive community movement that captured the hearts and admiration of supporters nationwide. (By the end of the seven-day strike, 97 percent of students stayed home in support of their educators.) Like teachers in LA, Oakland educators sought improved working conditions and resources and a living wage. In a tentative agreement with the school district on March 1, 2019, OEA won major gains in every key area. “However,” said OEA President Keith Brown, “we realize that the fight does not end with this contract. It is only the beginning.”
We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community….Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.
After years of organizing and asking their districts to invest in students and neighborhood public schools, United Teachers Los Angeles, Oakland Education Association and CTA locals throughout the state were compelled to take action.
Dec. 17, 2018
The March for Public Education was a defiant statement that UTLA was ready to do whatever it took in its prolonged, contentious struggle with LA Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner. The march in downtown LA drew 50,000 educators and community members, united in their dedication to each other and neighborhood public schools.
Jan. 14, 2019
Jan. 16, 2019
Jan. 22, 2019
Jan. 25, 2019
Teachers at the Accelerated Schools Los Angeles went on strike for eight days in January over deplorable working conditions and a 40 percent teacher turnover rate. It was California’s first strike by charter school educators, and only the second in the nation. A tentative agreement was reached on Jan. 27.
Feb. 5, 2019
Feb. 14, 2019
Feb. 16, 2019
A day after a fact-finding report found that Oakland Unified’s teacher retention crisis is much worse than the state average, OEA set a strike date for Feb. 21. The report also found that lower class sizes would improve educational outcomes, that more supports for students are possible, and that unchecked growth of charters is creating systemic inequity that is starving public schools.
Feb. 22, 2019
Feb. 28, 2019
March 1, 2019
March 13, 2019
March 16, 2019
March 4, 2019
And the movement goes forward! Educators at charter school Gompers Preparatory Academy recently voted to affiliate with San Diego Education Association and have already begun negotiations with academy officials. Multiple other locals are actively working to gain resources and supports for their students, schools and communities.
“It is downright shameful that the richest state in the country ranks 43rd out of 50 when it comes to per-pupil spending.” – UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl
The narrative on public education is changing as a result of the #RedForEd movement. Dinner tables in California and across the country are now buzzing about the importance of smaller class sizes, the need for adequate school funding, and the impacts of charter schools. Our work is having an impact, from our victories on the picket line and at the bargaining table to action on unregulated charter school growth. Gov. Gavin Newsom recently called for a study on the impacts of such growth, where charters are able to siphon public funds away from neighborhood schools, and the LA and Richmond school board have called for moratoriums on new charter schools until the report is complete. Read our in-depth coverage of charter schools in California and how students are affected.)
Historic UTLA, OEA Strikes
Social Media Catches Fire
Are you wearing the new color of advocacy? It looks like this!
Visit cta.org/RedForEdStore to pick out your next outfit!