Building Power Through Aspiration
Another school year is coming to an end. As you are wrapping things up, many of you are reflecting on what was accomplished in the last year and pondering what could have gone better. We are doing the same at SDEA. We have done a lot in the past year. From expanding our professional development opportunities to developing innovative ways to do business with our members, SDEA has accomplished a lot. We also met some challenges. Together, we defeated three anti-union bills in the legislature and helped members at the local level retain their union representation. As we move into summer we must ask what do we want next? How can we grow our power? What are our aspirations?
It is not enough to simply want something better, to want positive change. Positive change only happens if we all work together to make our aspirations a reality. To move an organization, everyone must aspire and work together. We must engage each other. We must decide what we want to change. We must make plans, and we must work those plans together.
The power of SDEA’s voice lies in the number of members we have and the willingness of those members to use their voice. Our power lies in the level of aspiration of each member to create a stronger Association.
Our potential is tremendous. If every potential member joined with us, our membership would be 19,244—roughly 12,000 teachers and 7000 ESP. We must aspire to be more than what we are. The future of this Association, the services we provide and programs we develop and implement are tied directly to our aspiration of growth, of power, and of influence. What if every local of over 5 members grew between 6-10%? We would have almost 1200 new members.
I want to be very clear. Members for the sake of numbers is not aspirational. Yes, we must grow. But if all we do is grow for the sake of growth without engaging these members, without listening to them and hearing their thoughts, we haven’t accomplished a great deal. Our aspirations must also focus on engagement and involvement.
We have many opportunities ahead of us. The potential is huge. Our aspirations become realities only when each one of us and our colleagues at home do the work. The work is one-on-one conversations with every potential member, conversations that occur on a regular basis and continue all year. Listening to our members and talking about the importance of membership must be a part of everything that we do.
To the dreamers and to those with aspirations, all things are possible. Henry David Thoreau wrote in Walden: “If you have built castles in the air, … that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” It is up to each of us to seize the opportunities before us, share our aspirations and lead.
In closing, for everything you do for every student in every school in this great state, know that you are valued and appreciated. For everything that you aspire to do as we move forward, I thank you. You are this Association; together we will continue to make a difference for and chart our path into the future.
Mary J. McCorkle