South County forum urges educator unity under Trump administration

South County Teachers hosted a community forum on Martin Luther King Day at Sweetwater High School’s Laura A. Charles Theater focused on educators’ concerns over anticipated federal policy changes under the incoming Trump Administration. South County Teachers United is home to local California Teachers Association (CTA) chapters including Chula Vista Educators, National City Elementary Teachers Association, Southwest Teachers Association, Sweetwater Education Association, Sweetwater Counseling and Guidance Association, and San Ysidro Education Association.

The forum brought together a panel of experts including Dr. Theresa Montano, Vice President of California Teachers Association, Richard Barrera, San Diego Unified School Board Trustee, Dale Kelly Bankhead, Secretary-Treasurer of San Diego and Imperial Labor Council, and Jon Vanderpool, attorney for the law firm Smith, Steiner, Vanderpool, and Wax, to discuss how educators can support students, families, and community members who may be targeted by new federal policies.

The 200 participants in attendance first viewed a short video highlighting south county community members and students who have seen increasing marginalization in the aftermath of the 2016 election. Students and parents shared their personal stories and desire for educators to be supportive of students and to create safe spaces for them as they face increasing challenges.

Panel members addressed what role educators should play during this time of escalating tension. Teachers and education support personnel were reminded by panelists to be vigilant and listen to their students while maintaining a balanced instructional delivery. “What we do outside the classroom in our actions is as important as what we do inside it” explained CTA Vice President Theresa Montaño.

With the nomination of anti-union advocates to the U.S Cabinet it is our teachers who will step in and protect our most vulnerable students. Southwest Teachers Association President Lorena Garcia, Chair of the event, was pleased with the outcome, stating “Educators who are committed to principles of diversity, tolerance, and inclusion will be an equalizing force to ensure our students feel safe and supported in their neighborhood schools.”