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Common Good, Community and UTLA

Common Good, Community and UTLA

Cecily Myart-Cruz

Following is a recap of the first State of the Union address given by Cecily Myart-Cruz, president of the United Teachers of Los Angeles at the UTLA Leadership Conference in August. The theme for the conference is "We Rise Together".

Here is what Ms. Myart-Cruz had to say:

I recognize the shoulders in which I stand on as the 3rd woman to ever lead UTLA in it’s 50 year history and its first woman of color. Here I stand as biracial Black Latina leading this organization. I pay homage to both Judy Solkovits who was elected UTLA President in 1970 and Helen Bernstein who was elected in 1990 for paving the way for me.

I laid out five priorities that we as UTLA will need to collectively come together around to really build power.

Our Union must take on racial justice, unapologetically, understanding that our schools are not free of systemic racism and fully understanding that racial justice is educational justice.

1. Make crisis distance learning work as well as possible through site organizing.

2. Any and all MOU talks of in-person school reopening must be guided by science and safety.

3. We must fight for new revenue streams to public education and pass Schools and Communities First in November

4. We must advocate for the communities we serve including bringing forward common good demands that will uplift us all.

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5. We must win the school board election in November.

These five priorities will be the guiding light of our work but you, the members are the North Star. We must have strong sites, where we bring back the joy in our craft. The joy of what we do on behalf of students. It’s having a workplace where you are respected, valued and the students are the centerpiece of why we do what we do!

Our Union must take on racial justice, unapologetically, understanding that our schools are not free of systemic racism and fully understanding that racial justice is educational justice.

Our students are looking to us to lead in this moment for them, fighting against injustice and dismantling systemic racism within our schools but also an integral part as we aspire to realize the schools Los Angeles students deserve.

Our theme is We Rise Together. What does that mean to you?
#UTLAStrong
#WeRiseTogether

The five priorities laid out by Ms. Myart-Cruz are essential not only because of the Covid-19 pandemic but also because the current state of the nation makes it undeniable that practical alternatives to the status quo solutions we've typically relied upon are a must. Specifically, by advocating for the communities that the members of UTLA serve and by including common good demands in that advocacy, union members can partner with communities to push for the kinds of changes that will benefit all of us.

In a piece we published here last week, we explore some of the ways that Milwaukee public schools are exploring common good solutions. You can read it here.

Additionally, addressing the common good in partnership with the community increases participatory democracy by increasing conduits for citizen participation. The union and the community, working together to establish a vision or long-term structural change could be our only hope.

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Sharon Kyle

Publisher, LA Progressive

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