California’s largest teachers union voted Saturday to throw its weight behind Gov. Gavin Newsom, pledging to defend the Democratic governor in an upcoming recall election.

“California educators stand in strong opposition to the recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom,” union president E. Toby Boyd wrote in a statement. “From our classroom vantage point during the pandemic, we didn’t always agree on approach, but we’ve never questioned his commitment to California’s students and public education.”

In his statement, Boyd credited Newsom for driving down California’s COVID-19 rates with the state’s vaccination efforts. Boyd also praised the governor for brokering legislation that increased regulation of charter schools and for his budget proposal to create a new transitional kindergarten grade in California public schools.

The vote by the California Teacher Association’s top governing body comes as Newsom and lawmakers hash out details of next year’s budget, including how much virtual schooling to allow.

Last month, Newsom proposed withholding billions of dollars from schools that don’t return to full in-class instruction in the fall after the pandemic waiver allowing schools to move online expires June 30. Under Newsom’s plan, some families who don’t want their children to return in person could enroll in independent study programs that existed prior to the pandemic.

Debates over distance learning have strained Newsom’s relationship with the teachers’ union during the pandemic, but the CTA praised Newsom’s budget plan last month for its record education funding. Boyd said teachers agree that in-person instruction is best for most students, but that the union supports allowing virtual options for students who want to stay remote.

CTA represents more than 300,000 teachers. The governing body that voted to back Newsom — the CTA State Council of Education — includes nearly 700 teachers.

CTA joins a long list of labor groups backing the governor, including the California Labor Federation. His anti-recall campaign has reported more than $1.7 million in donations from unions. California’s largest state worker union, SEIU Local 1000, voted this week to spend $1 million supporting Newsom in the recall over the opposition of its new president-elect, who has criticized Newsom for cutting state worker pay during the pandemic.


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