In some cities, the education unions and the mayor engage in battle. But that’s not the case in Los Angeles where Eric Garcetti was elected mayor in May 2013 with early support from the CFT. He welcomed Convention delegates Friday morning by saying he always keeps his education background in mind.

Along with being a teacher himself — International Affairs at the University of Southern California and Diplomacy and World Affairs at Occidental College — Garcetti has a grandmother who taught in public school. That gives him respect for and an understanding of teachers, the mayor said, adding that the support of the CFT meant the world to him.

“We remember every student,” the 43-year-old mayor said. “We remember their faces. And there’s always that student, usually in the last row, who is very quiet, and finally when she raises her hand, she changes everybody’s mind.”

Teachers and school staff change lives for the better every day, the mayor said, giving as an example a former student who wrote him saying she had planned to go into business, but after a class trip to meet Kofi Annan, she became a human rights activist, starting an organization to help girls and women.

Garcetti talked about concrete things he has done and plans to do, including a program to create thousands of summer jobs for high school students; the need for health clinics and more counselors in high schools; and reducing the dropout rate.

“Every student who drops out
isn’t just a statistic — he’s a story,” Garcetti said. The mayor ended by promising to support educators to get what they need to do their jobs. “Are you ready for an education system you can be proud of?” Garcetti asked. “I’ll be with you on every initiative you have.”