Last year in this edition of the Advocate, I wrote about the Blue Ribbon Task Force’s “bold” recommendations. I asked you to become engaged in the discussion, and to write personal notes to the legislators in your district. I ended by urging you to be bold and to be involved; I asked you to use your voice on behalf of our students. I asked you to use your voice to advocate for what our students needed.
Our work during the 2016 Legislative Session is complete, and together we accomplished our goal.
Now it is January 2017. Nationwide, educators are concerned, nervous, and even afraid of what the future will bring. We are entering a new era; one where the nominee for the US Secretary of Education is a strong advocate for charter schools, vouchers, and has never worked in a public school. There is concern about the Supreme Court and upcoming nominees, concern about our future as a labor union in an anti-union climate. Much is unknown; unease is widespread. The mood is gloom, rather than hope. We are worried about our schools and our students.
Public education is the foundation of democracy. Every day we come to school because we believe public education is the great equalizer. We work to make our public schools a safe place where our students learn to contribute to society, the economy, and to be good citizens. We believe every student deserves a great public education. We have dedicated our lives to this belief. We expect our elected leaders to value this vision for a strong and inclusive public education. They must work with us to create a system that ensures all students can succeed regardless of their zip code.
The national climate may change but our commitment to our public schools and our students cannot waiver. No matter what, we must continue hold to our values, to be bold, to be vocal and to stand up for our schools and our students and our profession. We will not be moved.
No matter what, we will continue to talk about learning environments that enable teachers to connect one on one with their students. We will talk about what works: resources, public pre-K, after school programs. We will loudly and determinedly urge investing in our public schools so that all students have opportunity, support and a positive learning environment. We will articulate our values and challenge our elected leaders to recommit to this vision of public education. We will not settle for anything less.
Our students need our voice more than ever. They need our advocacy; they need our determination; they need us to fight for them.
Be involved; use your voice loudly and with passion. If we do not speak up and out for our students and our public schools, who will?
As educators, we know what our students need to be successful; we know what works. The future of this country is entrusted in our ability to prepare students for life. This is our work; this is our challenge. We are up to it!
Mary J. McCorkle