California Educator

October 2014

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CTA & You What roles do politics and legislative advoca- cy play in the day-to-day lives of teachers? I know not everyone thinks about it a lot, but it is some- thing that is always there. CTA is our voice for political change, and there is so much that is political that affects our classrooms. Our leaders and their staff have a voice and are listened to in Sacramento. I would fear for my students if they weren't there. What specific examples come to mind? Well, Proposition 30, for one. CTA was the driving force behind the new funding that is putting our schools back on track. And a decade ago, we were the leaders in fight- ing Governor Schwarzenegger's trio of anti-teacher ballot initiatives. We also sued the governor and worked with Tom Torlakson to create the Quality Education Investment Act (QEIA) program, which was so good for the students and teachers at one of our Inglewood schools. Speaking of Inglewood, that district has been deeply financially troubled. How was CTA able to help? In addition to the work of local leaders and CTA staff in organizing and supporting ITA members through layoffs and other crises, CTA was there for us as the state began thinking about taking over the district. Through CTA, we were able to talk with lawmakers and with people at the California Department of Education, so the people coming in from outside knew it wasn't just 400 teachers in Ingle- wood they would be dealing with, it was CTA. We were able to set up connections between our small local and the power players at the state level. Inglewood has been through some desperate times. Without CTA support we might have been left to drown. You served on CTA's Strategic Planning Group. Are legislation and political action components of the stratetic plan? Absolutely. There isn't a "political action" focus area of the plan, but legislative advocacy and political involve- ment are important tools as we talk about taking back our profession and advocating on education reform and social justice issues. What would you say to members who are skittish about CTA's involvement in politics or who don't always agree with every posi- tion taken? I'd say not to focus on areas of disagreement and look at the bigger picture — that through CTA we have a collec- tive voice that is out there advocating for kids and for bet- ter teaching and learning conditions. It's not a top-down organization. Decisions are made through a democratic process, and individual voices are respected and heard. home, and another time when my car was smashed in a hit-and-run. They were fantastic! I was out of my house for six months, and when I moved back in, it was even better than before. Later, when my car was hit while it was parked at the airport, California Casualty did a won- derful job, and I had it back within the month — and my insurance covered the rental car. I also saved almost $4,000 by using the NEA Auto Buying program to purchase a new car. It sounds like you've been talking to your colleagues about your experiences. Oh yes. When a few MTA leaders tried to convince members to disaffiliate from CTA, some of my colleagues and I began com- paring CTA/NEA benefits with what the new independent association could offer. We discovered changing wasn't worth it, and I told them I couldn't afford to do it. My California Casualty insurance saves me $2,400 a year as a CTA member, while I would only get a discount of $347 if I were to become a member of an independent association. I'd be paying more for less coverage. And then there are all the other discounts for entertainment, traveling and Disneyland. Were you surprised when you totaled up the savings? When I started looking into the member ben- efits I had, I knew they were good, but I didn't know they were that good. It was amazing. In fact, my daughter, Drew Crow Bray, is a resource specialist in Sunnyvale. She, too, enjoys the benefits and feels secure that she is protected in her first year of teaching. I am a very proud mom. To learn more about your CTA and NEA mem- ber benefits, go to, download the new CTA Member Benefits phone app, or call Member Benefits at 650- 552-5200. 49 V O L U M E 1 9 I S S U E 3

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