Lately we are witnessing increased vitriol directed at school employees and public education—blame, disrespect, and even threats towards educators and unions by people who don’t work in our schools.
Everyone wants the pandemic to be over and possibly no group more than educators (and, of course, healthcare workers). We are all experiencing pandemic fatigue and anxiety as the spread of coronavirus is increasing. We had hoped by now there would be a light at the end of this long, traumatic, and tragic tunnel… yet as parents, siblings, children, caregivers, neighbors, and friends, we suffer, share, and mourn common losses.
Public education is the foundation of our free society and fuels job growth and innovation, a prosperous society, and a strong democracy. It is the bedrock of all other professions—educators prepare and shape every one of us to be educated and productive citizens in a global world. Now we are faced with unprecedented demands and historic staffing shortages. We knew these shortages were coming as baby boomers retired and interest in education as a career declined. It’s incredibly difficult to attract the next generation of adults to a field that has constantly increasing demands and pay unequal to any profession requiring comparable education and credentialling. The reality for us is that we are blamed, burdened, and scapegoated for all of society’s current and historical failures.
I challenge all non-educators to walk in our shoes before you tweet, text, or share your condemnation of public educators and our member-led unions. Roll up your sleeves, study the issues, and engage in public education—don’t burn the house down. We have ideas to make our schools better and need your partnership and energy to help make them a reality!