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Highlights from 150 Years of Advocacy for Public Education by CTA and Its Affiliates

1863 – CTA is founded as California Educational Society by Superintendent of Public Instruction John Swett with fewer than 100 members, all male.

1866 – CTA’s first legislative achievement establishes free public schools for all children in California—including schools that educate nonwhite students.

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

1895 – CTA backs the first class-size reduction law, limiting the number of students in a class to 80.

1911 – CTA leads state funding fight to establish community colleges. At CTA’s urging, free textbooks are printed and distributed at state expense.

1913 – California State Teachers’ Retirement System is created by legislation after CTA State Council calls for a statewide teacher pension system in 1910.

1915 – CTA leads efforts to outlaw child labor and enact other legal protections for children.

1927 – CTA wins legal victory when state Supreme Court rules that a school board cannot fire a female teacher simply because she got married.

1940s – CTA is one of a few organizations in California to protest against internment of Japanese-Americans at the beginning of World War II.

1946 – CTA sponsors Proposition 3, which guarantees schools $120 per student in ADA from the state and a minimum teacher salary of $2,400.

1960 – CTA leads the successful campaign to preserve the then-100-year-old Columbia School in the historic Gold Rush town. Hundreds of thousands of school children give their pennies, nickels and dimes to the project, raising $40,000 altogether, while CTA contributes $30,000 to finish the job.

1967 – CTA establishes schools for children of migrant workers, and leads the authorization of bilingual instruction classes for English learners.

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

1980 – Thousands of teachers receive layoff notices as a result of Prop. 13. Continuing program cuts lead to annual layoffs.

1983 – CTA leads passage of SB 813, which provides significant additional revenue for California schools through equalization of revenue limits and new categorical programs. This bill also provides more rigorous graduation requirements, longer school day and year, and higher beginning teachers’ salaries. It also establishes statewide model curriculum standards.

1988 – CTA drafts and wins passage of Proposition 98, which guarantees a minimum portion of state money to fund K-14 education. The passage of Prop. 98 firmly establishes CTA as a political force to be reckoned with.

1993 – Thousands of teachers and citizens mobilize to defeat Proposition 174, a school voucher initiative.

1994 – CTA opposed Proposition 187, a ballot initiative designed to deny undocumented immigrants social services, health care, and public education. It would have put hundreds of thousands of our students on the streets.

1995 – CTA wins Class Size Reduction law for K-3 classrooms after massive media and lobby campaign.

1996 – CTA files lawsuit (CTA v. Gould ) against the state to protect Proposition 98 and wins largest settlement in the country against a state government, providing $540 million to schools in 1996-97 and more than $1 billion in succeeding years.
CTA membership reaches 270,000.

1998 – CTA leads defeat of an initiative that would have restricted how unions participate in political campaigns and silenced member voices. CTA wins passage of a $9.3 billion statewide school bond.

2000 – After a massive mobilization effort with more than 10,000 CTA members attending a rally in Sacramento, public schools receive $1.84 billion. CTA members defeat a second voucher initiative, Proposition 38.

2001 – CTA launches an effort to draw attention to the challenges facing lower-performing schools and to bring more resources to them with the Schools of Greatest Need Bus Tour across the state.

2002 – CTA wins passage of a $13 billion statewide school bond.

2003 – CTA wins passage of a $12.3 billion statewide school bond.

2004 – State budget deficit of more than $35 billion results in cuts of nearly $2 billion for schools.

2005 – CTA members lead a broad coalition effort with other public sector labor unions to defeat Governor Schwarzenegger’s initiatives that would have cut school funding, destroyed teachers’ due process rights and silenced the voices of public employees. Efforts include two major rallies at the State Capitol and Pershing Square in Los Angeles that draw over 30,000 people.  CTA files a lawsuit against the state to get back all money owed to schools under Proposition 98.

2006 – CTA’s Quality Education Investment Act (QEIA) passes into law in 2006 and is helping schools that are serving a higher percentage of low income, minority and English learners to close the achievement gap. CTA wins passage of a $10.4 billion statewide school bond.

2007 – CTA members successfully mobilize to stop the harmful Miller-Pelosi reauthorization proposal for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (the so-called No Child Left Behind Act). The proposal would have placed more emphasis on test scores, created new sanctions for struggling schools, and eroded employee rights.

2008 – Nearly 11,000 CTA members receive pink slips in March. In April, the CTA officers embark on a six-week statewide “Cuts Hurt” bus tour to focus attention on the governor’s proposed cuts. The tour culminates in a CTA Lobby Day at the State Capitol in early May. CTA’s actions reduce layoffs to 5,000.

2009 – As the state budget crisis unfolds, schools are hit with massive cuts. More than 27,000 educators receive pink slips. CTA stages Statewide Day of Action on “Pink Friday,” March 13, and launches the “Stand Up for Schools” website. With CTA’s help, the number of layoffs is reduced to 17,000. In late July, due to CTA’s efforts, the Legislature reaches a budget agreement that will restore $11 billion of Prop. 98 funding in future years.

2012 – CTA leads fight to pass the governor’s Proposition 30. It stops billions in new education cuts and will generate $42 billion for public schools and local services over seven years. CTA also defeats Prop. 32, another attempt to silence our political voices.

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