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CTA: 150 Years and Counting

This year, the California Teachers Association is celebrating its 150th anniversary. This provides an opportunity to look back and see what CTA has done over the years. The changes in public education have been vast, although at times we may feel as if we are stuck in neutral. The battles that have been fought for the greater good of our children, our students, have been numerous and brought changes that many teachers, and almost all people, take for granted — imagine no lunch or prep periods.

CTA has been a warrior in the ongoing fight against rampant sexism, unfair labor practices, and union-busting legislation, for not only equality for its members but also protecting the voices of our parents, students, and communities. Through marching, picketing, collective bargaining, and voting, our members have fought on our behalf for over a century. Our voices have a power that was not given to us, but earned.

The best way to honor our past is to simply remember it. Perspectives may change, but the issues we face today are ones that we will be remembered for in the future. The times when we stood up and took charge of our evaluations, our pay, and our work day will be landmarks for future generations. It’s a scary thought imagining what would have been if we did not exercise our rights together as educators.

We stand on the shoulders of those who have come before, and as a result, we can see the future. That future is bright, filled with faces that look like the ones we see every day in our classrooms. The potential that we witness day in and day out inspire us to always be better, always improve, and always push our students to achieve more than they ever thought possible. As Bob Marley said, “In this bright future, you can’t forget to your past.”

Here a short history of some key moments in CTA’s 150-year history:

1863 – Founded as California Education Society by John Swett, Superintendent of Public Instruction with less than 100, all male, members.

1866 – Legislative achievement passed for free public schools for all children in CA.

1890 – CTA wins state Supreme Court ruling on “fair dismissal” law.

1911- At CTA urging, free textbooks are printed and distributed at the state’s expense.

1913 – CTA State Council calls for a statewide teacher pension system.

1927 – CTA wins a legal victory when the state Supreme Court rules that a school board cannot fire a female teacher for getting married.

1965 – CA Legislature passes the Toothless Winton Act, permitting school employees to “meet and confer” with employers about employment conditions.

1967 – CTA authorizes bilingual instruction classes for English Learners.

1968 – CTA adopts policy in support of collective bargaining.

1972 – CTA pushes collective bargaining bill through the Legislature. It is vetoed by Governor Ronald Reagan.

1975 – Legislature passes the CTA-sponsored Rodda Act, making K-14 school employees the first public employees in California to win collective bargaining rights.

1988 – CTA drafts and wins the passage of Proposition 98, which guarantees a minimum portion of state money to fund K-14 education.

1993 – CTA defeats Proposition 174, a school voucher initiative.

2000 – CTA defeats Proposition 38, a second voucher initiative.

2005 – CTA leads a broad coalition to defeat Propositions 74, 75, and 76, which would have cut school funding, destroyed teachers’ due process rights, and silenced the voices of public employees. CTA also files a lawsuit against the state to get back all money owed to schools under Proposition 98.

2006 – CTA wins their lawsuit against the state and Proposition 98.

2012 – CTA plays an integral role in the passage of Proposition 30, giving schools much needed relief in funding that would have expired. Additionally, CTA and its members help defeat Proposition 32, which would have crippled the the rights of all union employees.

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