California Educator

March 2015

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Page 9 of 57

Now, I'll not compare her pictures to those submitted for CTA's César E. Chávez Memorial Education Awards Program, because they're all great. I may think my daughter's work is just more precious. The students' works demonstrate an understanding of the vision and guiding principles by which Chávez lived his life. César Chávez Day, March 31, is a state holiday that commemorates the life of Chávez, who dedicated his energy to helping improve the plight of the American farmworkers. Educator writer Sherry Posnick-Goodwin wrote a profile on Gordon Williamson (page 24), who marched with Chávez and taught three of his six children in an after-school program called "Huelga School." Part of her research naturally centered on the United Farm Work- ers, whose activism improved the working conditions for many farmworkers. Between 1994 and 2002, UFW won 21 union elections and signed 25 new or first-time contracts with growers, according to the UFW website ( They achieved the first agreement in 27 years with Gallo Winery, covering 450 vineyard workers in Sonoma County. Other victories included contracts with the largest winery in Washington state, the biggest mushroom producer in Florida, and the nation's largest rose producer in California. In 2001, UFW signed a contract protecting Ventura County field laborers at Coastal Berry Company, the largest U.S. employer of strawberry workers. Farmworkers under most UFW contracts enjoy decent pay, family med- ical care, job security, paid holidays and vacations, pensions, and a host of other benefits. Tragically, the majority of farmworkers in California and the rest of the nation still have none of these protections. UFW made legislative progress at the state and national levels, too. In 2001, the California Legislature passed laws to end some of the worst abuses farmworkers suffer from growers and farm labor contractors. e legacy of advocacy How long do you keep your kids' artwork around? My daughter is 27, and I still have a lot of hers in my house, especially those pieces that she entered into contests when she was in school. And UFW continues pushing legislation that would allow undocumented f armworkers and f amily members to earn legal status. CTA members supported these efforts by advocating for students; pushing for the California DREAM Act, which was enacted in 2011 and allows undocumented students to apply for Cal Grants and state university scholarships; and sharing information on DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), an executive order President Obama issued in 2012 providing deportation relief to undocu- mented immigrants who enter the country before age 16. I can't help but think Chávez would be proud. Our actions, even small ones, can become legacies. And legacies, like Chávez's legacy and CTA's contest in his honor, positively impact our students. That legacy of advocacy, like our kids' artwork and essays, is priceless. Cynthia Menzel E D I T O R I N C H I E F editor's Note By 2014 Chávez Award winner Eduardo Abedoy, student of Ramon Juarez, Whittier Secondary Education Association. 8

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