CTA honors Southland teachers for promoting civil rights

Four individuals from Los Angeles County and one from Orange County are among nine educators who have been honored by the California Teachers Association for their commitment to social justice and the promotion of human and civil rights, both in the classroom and in their wider school communities.

CTA’s annual human rights awards were presented on Saturday at the CTA’s Equity and Human Rights Conference in Los Angeles.

Among the winners were:

—Guadalupe Carrasco Cardona, Los Angeles. For his commitment to promoting equality in education, his work in underserved communities and his excellent mentorship of teachers and students, Carrasco Cardona received the Cesar Chavez “Si Se Se Puede”. A member of United Teachers of Los Angeles and a teacher at the Edward R. Roybal Learning Center, Carrasco Cardona helped develop a statewide ethnic studies curriculum and organized nationwide support community for students and families struggling to make ends meet. As president of the Raza Educators Association of Los Angeles, she supports teachers through professional development opportunities and helps secure scholarships for Dreamers. She also created “La Trenza” (The Braid), a YouTube channel for young Latinx people.

—Gina Gray, Los Angeles. Gray received the Human Rights Award for Women’s Advocacy for her work to end gender bias and racial discrimination within her union, United Teachers of Los Angeles. Gray was a leader in creating UTLA’s “Brave Space” series, which addressed implicit bias and racism in the aftermath of police killings of unarmed black people. She used UTLA’s social media platforms to educate the entire union workforce about the accomplishments of women of color.

— Telly Tse, Beverly Hills. For her tireless advocacy on behalf of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, Tse – of the Beverly Hills Education Association – received the Pacific Asian American Human Rights Award. Through his work as a special education teacher, local association president, CTA board member and other roles, he has shown leadership in advocating for immigrants, the AAPI community, equity in education, bilingual programs and anti-Asian violence. He serves as a mentor teacher to new AAPI educators across the country and has helped increase AAPI representation at CTA and NEA.

—Daniel Gallegos, Lynwood. The chair of Lugo Elementary School’s special education department and a member of the Lynwood Teachers Association, Gallegos received the Human Rights Award for Students with Exceptional Needs. He is a strong advocate for the inclusion of students with “exceptions” in general education classrooms and school activities. The objective of Gallegos is to change the vision that these students have of themselves, so that they see themselves as capable, responsible and successful. He works to create safe and secure learning environments that enable students to achieve their goals.

— Juli Stowers, Orange County. For her leadership and commitment to defending LGBTQ+ rights as an educator, labor leader, and community organizer, Stowers received the Human Rights Award for LGBTQ+ Advocacy in honor of Nancy Bailey. A member of the Saddleback Valley Educators Association, Stowers is active in numerous LGBTQ+ organizations. She has organized many events, such as the Trans Day of Remembrance, and is a founding member of Newport Beach PFLAG as well as Youth First OC, which advocates for safe, inclusive, and discrimination-free schools for LGBTQ+ students.

“At a time when there are far too many outside forces that seek to stoke division and fear, these inspired educators show us how to approach our past and our present honestly, confront injustice, and educate with integrity and courage,” said said CTA President E. Toby. Boyd said. “They show us how to create a more equitable future so that all of our students can think critically, see themselves in our classrooms and curriculum, and have the opportunity to succeed.”

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