California Educator

October 2015

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president's message W e are the ones on the front lines chal- lenging our students every day. We are there when they're perplexed and questioning, and we are there when their eyes light up after they finally get it. Helping kids reach that "aha!" moment is one of the joys of being a teacher — when our experience, expertise and understanding of the whole child come together. So it troubles me when educators are deliber- ately left out of the education reform conversation, especially since we are the experts when it comes to what works to improve student learning. That's why one of my goals as president is to make sure CTA and educators are at the forefront of changing the public conversation about our schools and colleges, the role of educators, and the role of our union. And we are well on our way. We are developing innovative approaches to student learning and advocat- ing for fewer tests and more time to learn. CTA members and chapter leaders throughout California are becoming local experts on designing and facilitat- ing effective and meaningful teacher professional development. Districts and unions are joining forces to have a real impact on student learning. (As an example, see our story on CTA's Instructional Leadership Corps on page 54.) Seen through a big-picture lens, CTA is leading the charge to change the conversation about standardized testing, local control, school funding and union involvement. We have long talked about the dangers of high-stakes testing, and it seems that we've been getting through to parents and politicians. We have another opportunity now that test results for the Smarter Balanced Summative Assess- ments in both English language arts and mathematics for grades 3-8 and 11 have been released. There are a number of things to let parents know: • This is just one set of test scores, and not a true measurement of student achievement. • Results cannot be compared to previous statewide assessments, since this is only the first full year of implementation. • The new California standards are still being implemented for students and educators. You can see more about these test scores and the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) on page 41. A new era of local control is giving educators a more influential role, and we are stepping up. The Local Control Funding Formula, which CTA sup- ports, provides real opportunities for local educators to sit down with parents, community members and the administration to design the best possible edu- cational experience for their students. Changing the Conversation Regarding school funding, voters listened as we shared stories about what years of budget cuts did to our schools and colleges. They passed Prop. 30 in 2012, the largest tax increase in California's history. Thanks to your activ- ism and hard work, this year our schools and colleges saw the single largest increase in school funding. Prop. 30 taxes are temporary, however, and we have a long way to go. California still ranks 46th in the nation in per-pupil funding. That's why CTA is currently working in coalition with other labor unions and community groups to develop a 2016 funding initiative to ensure everyone pays their fair share. One of our coalitions, the Alliance for a Better Cali- fornia, has filed an initiative to extend Prop. 30. While the sales tax portion would expire as planned, the proposal would continue to tax the wealthiest Californians for 12 years. Students and schools would get the resources they need, and those who can afford it would continue to pay their fair share. Adequately funding our schools must be an ongoing discussion we have with lawmakers and voters. All this work and more is changing the conversation. Together, we are ensuring that all of California's children get the quality education they deserve. Eric C. Heins C T A P R E S I D E N T @ericheins Instructional Leadership Corps members representing the Fullerton Elementary Teachers Association and Fullerton School District at the September convening. 5 V O LU M E 2 0 I S S U E 3

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