The California Teachers Association is celebrating the 28th annual national Teacher Appreciation Week with a bigger milestone – the 150th anniversary of its founding.
It was May 1863 when then state superintendent of schools John Swett, a passionate advocate for free public education, held a state teachers’ convention and established the California Educational Society with fewer than 100 members, all men. It became the California Teachers Association in 1875. California itself had just become a teenager, marking its 13th year as a state, and the Civil War was two years from ending.
Today, the CTA has 325,000 members and is one of the strongest advocacy groups in the state, having spent tens of millions of dollars on the 2012 election.
To mark its sesquicentennial, the CTA is launching “California’s Teachers: Honoring our past. Guiding the future,” a huge media campaign promoting its accomplishments and charting out its long-term strategy and goals.
“As we celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week, we should reflect on the fact that teachers are often the greatest champions our children have,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, whose 2010 election campaign received more than $3.3 million in CTA contributions through an independent expenditure committee, said in a written statement. “Their care and skill inspire our students, motivate them to do their best, and prepare them for the world beyond the classroom.
For more on the CTA’s history, see John Swett and the politics of public education in frontier California