Dear Madame Secretary DeVos:
In response to the recent surge of teacher walkouts, you stated that teachers should “serve the students that are there to be served.” I couldn’t agree more. I also understand why, as the highest-ranking Education official in the nation, you must discourage teacher protests. However, as a veteran public-school educator who believes that our education system is our nation’s greatest resource, I ask you to consider what you can do to give our nation’s educators the voice they need and end the strikes once and for all. This isn’t just about pay raises, new textbooks or smaller class sizes. It is about our nation’s educators being respected as the hard-working professionals we are.
This isn’t just about pay raises, new textbooks or smaller class sizes. It is about our nation’s educators being respected as the hard-working professionals we are. Click To Tweet
Of course, like any career, there are a few bad apples out there. There are disgruntled folks who take to the picket line as a day off, but this is not the norm in a profession that is devoted to growing human beings. Teachers don’t want to strike. They understand the impact it has on their students and the community. Walking out is only a last resort after years of focus groups and letters to the editor and calls to representatives. I’ve read stories about educators in West Virginia packing lunches before the strike began to make sure students would have access to healthy food. I’ve heard about educators in Oklahoma who paid substitutes out of their own pockets. These are people dedicated to serving students.
You stated that teachers need to stay “focused on what’s right for the kids”. For years– day in, day out– I’ve been required to do things that go against everything I know about human development, teaching and learning. A few days of strikes is not a drop in the bucket compared to the years since NCLB turned our system into a testing machine. Endless standardized testing, scripted lessons, limiting the arts: this is not right for the kids.
A few days of strikes is not a drop in the bucket compared to the years since NCLB turned our system into a testing machine. Click To Tweet
You tweeted that “children should not suffer for adult squabbles.” This is not a squabble. We are witnessing the breaking point after years of unanswered requests. The phone calls, the board of education meetings, and the impassioned public resignations by our nation’s best educators just aren’t working and we don’t have any alternatives to walking out. In 28 states, we don’t have the right to collective bargaining and the other states sit in limbo as we wait to hear the Supreme Court’s summer decision on the Janus case. The educators of our nation are asking for more than increased spending. We are asking for a voice.
The wonderful thing about giving educators a voice is that it’s free. No test, no computer program or state of the art technology can take the place of an effective teacher. When the Department of Education leads our nation in a movement to respect educators as professionals, that’s when we’ll see measurable reform in our schools. And the need for walk-outs–and maybe even letters to the editor–will end.
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