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Does the California Teachers Association (CTA) Represent the Majority of Teachers’ Views?

Note: The following article represents my personal opinions and does not necessarily represent the views of Orange Unified School Board or the Santa Ana Unified School District.

When controversies arise regarding education, it is important to understand that teachers are a diverse group of people in every way. We are not monolithic. We do not all belong to the same political party and we do not share the same views. So when any group takes a political stance and claims to speak on behalf of “the teachers,” then you know that you are hearing a lie. NO group speaks for all the teachers, but the California Teachers Association (CTA), which is the statewide teachers union, likes to say – or at least imply – that they do.

There is a lot of controversy surrounding the implementation of the new gender identity curriculum spawned from AB 329, the California Healthy Youth Act.  What do teachers think of all this? Do they agree with the CTA positions on the new curriculum and policies that significantly reduce parental rights? Let’s address some of the issues one at a time.

Are MOST teachers AGAINST Parental Rights?  

NO, but the CTA is. Most teachers value their partnership with parents in their children’s education. But the CTA has consistently taken positions that infringe on parental rights. For example, CTA is on the Steering Committee of California Safe Schools, an organization that has been a leader in trying to force the new gender spectrum dogma comprehensively on our K-12 children. Please refer to their position on opting out contained in the document

“Do parents have a constitutional right to prevent their children from receiving education in public schools on subjects they disapprove? Almost never.  Parents do not have veto power over the content of public school instruction… If parents choose to place their children in public school, parental rights are generally outweighed by the state’s interests in educating students… The right to notice and opt-out also does not apply to discussions of gender, sexual orientation, and family life outside the context of sex education.

Do parents have the right to notice about and to opt their children out of diversity education programs that include discussions of sexual orientation or other controversial topics?  No….. ‘instruction or materials that discuss gender, sexual orientation, or family life and do not discuss human reproductive organs and their functions’ is not subject to the parental notice and opt-out laws.”

The teachers’ union doesn’t support opting-out or even parental notification. You can’t get much more anti-parent than that.

Are MOST teachers IN FAVOR of teaching the GENDER SPECTRUM to children?

NO, but the CTA is. In fact, most teachers have never even heard of the gender spectrum because it is so new. In a nutshell, it is the theory that gender is not just male and female (binary), but that there are potentially an infinite number of genders. The CTA is all-in to teaching it to all students, the younger the better.

On page 21 of the March 2017 CTA Magazine (California Educator) in an article titled Embracing the Gender Spectrum, it states:

“People who are transgender have received lots of media attention, but it is just one option on the gender spectrum, which has expanded from the binary spectrum of two genders (male and female) to being “gender expansive” with a range of identities and expressions.  Students may identify:

-As ‘gender nonconforming’ because their gender expression falls outside what is considered typical for their assigned sex at birth.

-With both genders as ‘ambigender’

-With neither gender as ‘agender’ or non-binary gender

-As ‘gender fluid’, not having a fixed gender.

– As ‘questioning’, which means they are unsure of or exploring their gender identity.”

Gender-neutral Pronouns are:  they, them, their, ze, hir, hirs, hirself.

On page 15 of chapter 3 of an NEA (National Educator Association) Document titled Schools in Transition ( ) it states:

“While some may assume that elementary students are too young to discuss these issues, experience from schools across the country say otherwise. In fact, in most cases younger students are much more flexible in their thinking and capacity for understanding a peer’s assertion of their authentic gender.”

Do MOST teachers endorse an official THIRD gender in our state?

NO, but the CTA does. In October 2017, CTA endorsed the passing of SB 179 (a housing bill completely unrelated to education), which states: “As of January 2019, there will be an official 3rd Gender in California (Non-Binary).”

Do MOST teachers support reduced consequences for intentionally infecting others with HIV? 

NO, but the CTA does. In October 2017, CTA endorsed the passing of SB 239 which states that intentionally infecting someone with the HIV virus is no longer a felony. The eagerness with which CTA jumps into politics unrelated to education show the extent to which CTA is a political entity flush with cash taken from rank and file teachers – largely unaware of where their hard-earned money (dues) is going.

Do MOST teachers think classrooms should remain politically neutral? 

Yes, but NEA/CTA does not. In the NEA Today Magazine, Dec 2018 Article:  Education is Political:  Neutrality in the Classroom Shortchanges Students. The author explains that:

“Not expressing your views as a teacher or avoiding political topics such as racism, equity, climate change and gun violence, can marginalize students.”

NEA and CTA also partner with the Human Rights Campaign on creating “inclusive, safe and welcoming schools.”  Part of this organization’s plan to help create inclusive schools is to engage classes in the books and lessons plans created by the social justice special interests who are championing the new gender curriculum.

One book example that demonstrates the abandonment of all pretense of political neutrality is The Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo (grades K-5). This book calls Vice President Mike Pence (BY NAME) Boring and Not Fun.  It calls legislative officials who supported Proposition 8,  “Mean Stink Bugs” and shows kids how to Vote and Kick these “stink bugs” out of office.

Do MOST teachers value the privacy of their personal information? 

YES, but CTA does not. CTA worked on AB 119, which states Employing School Districts MUST give teachers’ personal contact information to the teachers’ union, such as their cell number, address and personal email address, WITHOUT the teachers’ notification or consent.

Do MOST teachers believe employers should notify them of their rights?

YES, but CTA does not. CTA endorsed SB 866, which forbids school districts to inform teachers of their right to join or not join the union. Coincidentally, this state law was signed by Governor Brown on June 27, 2018, the exact day Janus won the Supreme Court case (which gave teachers this choice). In fact, the Janus decision actually forbids school districts from collecting dues from any teacher until that teacher has newly and explicitly affirmed their decision to remain in the union. Most school districts are still not in compliance with this aspect of the Janus decision. It may be in conflict with SB 866, since Janus requires employers to ask employees if they are still in the union, and SB 866 prohibits the employer from informing the employees that they have a choice. How do you ask them about their decision without giving away the fact that they have a decision?

As the CTA continues to veer away from the values of its members, it is likely that more and more teachers will opt to leave the union and redirect those significant union dues to their own wallets. Teachers are perfectly capable of making their own decisions about which political causes to support. We don’t need a bloated ideological organization like the CTA to make those decisions for us.

Although I am grateful to be part of a LOCAL union, I can truly say, as ONE public school teacher, CTA does NOT represent my views, and I doubt it represents the MAJORITY of teachers’ views. Regardless of salary increases or better health/retirement benefits, my values cannot be bought.

Brenda Lebsack is an Orange Unified School District trustee and a public school teacher (for 24 years), currently teaching in the Santa Ana Unified School District.