November 21, 2012
We Did It! Sweet Election Victories for our Students,
Schools and Profession!
There are no sweeter words than “We did it!” The November 6 Election was a tremendous victory for our students, for public schools and colleges, and for all working families as voters approved Proposition 30 and rejected Proposition 32. Your hard work in your schools and in your communities achieved these monumental victories. We organized and used our collective voice to make a difference for the future of California. You made phone calls – lots of phone calls. You rang door bells, carried signs, and attended rallies. You talked to your friends and family and got them all out to vote. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
The approval of Prop. 30 demonstrated voters’ willingness to invest in public education. They want to see funding restored to our schools and colleges. Prop. 30 stops an additional $6 billion budget cut. They want to stop the tuition hikes and class size increases. They want to see that students have music, arts, libraries, and access to counselors and nurses. They want to see that our schools flourish and our students succeed. They know the way to a stronger economy is through investing in education.
The passage of Prop. 30 was also a vote for tax fairness and ensuring that everyone is paying their fair share to build a better California. Prop. 30 was built on the principles laid out by State Council and CTA’s Public Education Funding Workgroup nearly two years ago. I am so proud that CTA’s actions helped set the agenda for this campaign, including early discussions with the governor and other community groups, as well as collecting the signatures needed to put the initiative on the ballot. We took the opportunity to be proactive in this election, and our students were the winners.
For the third time in less than 15 years and by the largest margin ever, California’s voters saw the truth and rejected a ballot scam funded by wealthy corporate interests that aimed to silence the voice of working men and women and their unions. Prop. 32 was a sham designed to give billionaires the power to write their own rules, while the middle class paid the price. This was an important coalition victory as we worked with other unions and community groups across that state, but I’m also proud that CTA members and staff were at the forefront of these efforts and strategy throughout the campaign.
This hard-fought victory for democracy exposed the real agenda of the corporate special interests behind Prop. 32. Those millionaires and billionaires never cared about the checks and balances of our democracy, only the checks they could write to buy even more political influence in Sacramento and Washington. Our voice is stronger from this victory, and we will continue to speak out for our students, our public schools, our colleges and our profession.
Local, State and Federal Victories
It was also a good election for local school board members, state legislators and members of Congress who support public education and working families. More than 200 CTA-recommended candidates won on November 6, including a few classroom teachers who were elected to Congress. CTA also provided funding to pass 25 out of 28 local school parcel taxes and bond measures.
Kids Not Cuts
Now that we’ve succeeded in getting more money to our schools in California, the federal government is looking at massive budget cuts to education. Please join me in taking the Kids Not Cuts pledge and speak up for America’s students by urging Congress to make the right choices to support public education and working families. It’s time to stop giving tax breaks to the wealthiest two percent while our students pay the price. If Congress doesn’t take the right action, about $5 billion in across-the-board cuts to education will take effect on January 2. That means more overcrowded classrooms and a potential loss of 80,000 jobs. Watch and share this video. Sign the pledge. And tell your members of Congress to stop the sequester cuts to our students and schools.
Most Chapters and Districts Reject Race to the Top-D
In the midst of the election, California school districts and local chapters were deciding whether to apply for the third round of federal Race to the Top competitive grants. Known as RTTT-D, this round focuses on money going directly to local districts and schools rather than states. Seeing the program for what it is – a one-time grant that comes with a bunch of federal mandates and strings attached – most California chapters and school districts decided not to apply. Analysis showed it could cost districts more money to implement the requirements of RTTT-D than they would get from the federal government. I want to commend local chapter leaders for seriously evaluating this proposal before making any decisions. In the end, about 20 California school districts applied for funding, including five districts that applied without the agreement of the local union, which certainly speaks volumes to their intent of working with educators. Grant winners are expected to be announced next month.
It’s been an incredible year, and I am thankful to my CTA family for their support and courage to take a stand for our students and our union. I wish you and your family a very happy Thanksgiving and holiday season. I encourage you to take time to be with and enjoy your family and friends as we get ready to lead and set the education agenda in California in 2013.
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