California Educator

February 2016

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 6 of 59

president's message O N J A N . 1 1 , I had the rare opportunity to attend a session of the U.S. Supreme Court and listen to oral arguments in the Friedrichs v. CTA case. CTA needed to be in that room, because they were talking about all of us. I wanted to look those justices in the eye, so they knew the decision they make is going to impact real people. It was an intense experience. I was seated a few feet from Rebecca Friedrichs, the Orange County educator from whom the case gets its name. I wish she had a better understanding of what the results of this case could mean for our students, our families and the disappearing middle class in America. As an educator, it's your right not to agree with your union on every political position. And it's your right not to join. No one is forced to join the union, even though the union is required by law to represent nonmembers in contract-related issues. But it's an entirely different thing to try and strip away the rights of educators to come together and bargain the best learn- ing and working conditions for neighborhood schools at's what this case is about. It's about weakening our voice as we advocate for our students, profession and communities. It was very hard for me to sit passively by during the pro- ceedings, because they were all talking about you and me, our students and our 325,000 colleagues. ere were times when I wanted to jump up and scream, "No! You have it all wrong!" While I was in the courtroom screaming on the inside, there were more than 500 educators, other union members and com- munity activists screaming loudly outside — including CTA members Reagan Duncan, a first-grade teacher in Vista, and Maya Walker, an education support professional from Hayward. Since that day, there have been reports about how the jus- tices may rule, and how the ruling may affect us. e truth is, we don't know what to expect until they rule. Regardless of the outcome, we'll continue to do what we've always done: advocate for students and educators of California! We will keep speaking out against corporate greed and those seeking to turn schools and colleges into profit centers instead of institutions of learning. is is ultimately about social and economic justice, something that we are sorely lacking right now. Last month, as the elite met at the World Economic Forum, news stories reported that the combined net worth of four U.S. billionaires is almost as much as the total wealth of the bottom 40 percent of all U.S. households. That's four people earning the same as 128 million people. at's outrageous! Economic justice, wealth disparity, and living wages are on the minds of many Americans right now. ey were on my mind as I stood on the steps of the Supreme Court looking at the U.S. Capitol. Beyond it lay the National Mall and the Lincoln Memorial, where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech more than 50 years ago. I was struck by how long these issues have been around. I can't help but think that King would have been proud of us as we stood on the Supreme Court steps, supporting students of all colors and families struggling to make a better life. While we must work together with other labor unions to continue raising the banner of economic justice, we must also celebrate hard-won victories — as in December, when the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was signed into law. After 14 years of the test-and-punish regimen of the No Child Left Behind Act, the new law gives all students a real opportu- nity to succeed by moving education decisions back to states and local school districts, just as we did in California with the Local Control Funding Formula. ESSA allows states to limit time spent on standardized test- ing, so students have more time to learn and teachers have more time to teach. It decouples test scores from high-stakes decision-making and eliminates ranking schools based on test scores. It eliminates and actually outlaws mandating that teacher evaluation be tied to student test scores. Dr. King once said, " We must come to realize that human progress does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and persistent work of individuals." What are we, but the union of persistent individuals? Our col- leagues and working Americans in the rest of the country are looking to us for persistence and leadership. We will not let them down. Eric C. Heins C T A P R E S I D E N T @ericheins Reagan Duncan and Maya Walker with Eric Heins in front of the Supreme Court. For background and details about Friedrichs v. CTA, see Persistence and Leadership Patrick G. Ryan 5 February 2016

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of California Educator - February 2016