California Educator

November 2015

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WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE FOR YOUR STUDENTS AND YOUR CLASSROOM? Telling your story to your lawmakers makes a big difference. It can spell the difference between a good bill that passes and one that fails. It can help win schools more funding — and it can help defeat measures that would undermine public pensions and weaken academic freedom. Contact your chapter officers and ask them how you can get more involved. For more, see A S S E M B L Y M E M B E R Luis A. Alejo (D-Watsonville) authored a key CTA- backed bill that Gov. Brown recently signed into law, AB 30 — the California Racial Mascots Act. e new law stipulates that as of January 2017, all public schools will be barred from using the R-word, a term widely recognized as a racial slur tar- geting Native Americans, for team names, mascots or nicknames (see story on page 44). "is bill is about respect — respect for every culture and every per- son," Alejo says. "Native Americans should not be left out." It was his latest effort to serve the disadvantaged and underrep- resented in a changing state. His legislative work has also assisted students and dealt with educational issues. "California has one of the largest and most diverse student populations in the country," Alejo says. "I am proud to have authored numerous pro-education bills in 2015 that aim to better serve our students in the classroom, and better prepare them for the diverse workforce." e son of agricultural workers in Watsonville, Alejo graduated from Watsonville High School. He was a champion wrestler in high school and at Gavilan College. He graduated with honors from UC Berkeley with a dual major in political science and Chicano studies. Alejo taught special needs students and at-risk youth, and then earned a J.D. from the UC Davis School of Law and a master of educa- tion degree in administration, planning and social policy from Harvard University. He has worked at the California Rural Legal Assistance Foun- dation and the Monterey County Superior Court, defending the rights of those without power. His interest in laws that could help working and disenfranchised Californians led him to become a legislative fellow for the Assembly in 2002. Later he served in several posts before being elected mayor of Watsonville. Voters elected him to the Assembly in November 2010. In addition to this year's AB 30, legislation he has authored includes AB 60, the Safe and Responsible Driver Act, which allows undocumented immi- grants to apply for driver's licenses, and AB 10, which provides dignity and equality for the state's minimum wage earners. In October he was named Legislator of the Year by the League of California Cities. Education remains a key issue for Alejo. "As California diversifies, it is increasingly important to ensure that our students and teachers build knowledge of the various racial and ethnic groups in our state," he says. "The purpose of these bills is to enhance student achievement as an essential component of a culturally diverse education." — Len Feldman CTA Board member Jim Groth, at le, and member Reagan Duncan talk with Rick Simpson, ranking education aide to Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, about how funding shortages harm our students. Meet Assembly Member Luis Alejo CTA members meet with Assembly Member Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks) to advocate for school funding and CTA-supported legislation. GET INVOLVED 39 November 2015

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