Stop the attacks

By Anita Gibson, AEA President

As your state president, I had the opportunity to serve as an observer at the International Summit on the Teaching Profession. There were participants from 16 nations, including Finland, Hong Kong, Japan, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, and the People’s Republic of China. The participants included education ministers and education employee union leaders from countries and regions with high-performing and rapidly-improving education systems. Presenters shared the understanding that great education employees are a prerequisite to producing consistently high levels of achievement for every student. For many, there was another shared understanding – what it takes to attract and retain great education employees for every student. There were frank conversations across four areas: Teacher Recruitment and Preparation; Development, Support, and Retention of Education Employees; Evaluation and Compensation; and Education Employee Engagement in Education Reform.

Since we are often compared to Finland, I was impressed when the very first thing Finland’s minister of education said was, “We love our teachers. We really love our teachers.” It soon became very clear that education employees are given the respect they deserve as professionals. Finland is heralded as number one in education around the world and their education employees are 100 percent union. A comparison in our country would be to look at Massachusetts, whose schools are consistently ranked as number one and whose education employees are 100 percent union. Does anyone else see a trend that deserves another look?

Other recurring themes in many of these countries include strong communication between policy makers and the education employee unions; a commitment to find ways to bring “new” money to the budget to fully fund their education systems; and a sincere desire to bring respect to the profession of teaching to attract and retain the very best individuals who have made the education of our children a career choice.

I left the summit feeling inspired, but also disappointed with the reality of what is happening in Alabama to our education employees. I believe the way forward for our state is through open, honest dialogue that will result in a greater respect for our profession and the men and women who have devoted their lives to the children of this state. Our education professionals should be looked upon as the strong pillaAs your state president, I had the opportunity to serve as an observer at the International Summit on the Teaching Profession. There were participants from 16 nations, including Finland, Hong Kong, Japan, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, and the People’s Republic of China. The participants included education ministers and education employee union leaders from countries and regions with high-performing and rapidly-improving education systems. Presenters shared the understanding that great education employees are a prerequisite to producing consistently high levels of achievement for every student. For many, there was another shared understanding – what it takes to attract and retain great education employees for every student. There were frank conversations across four areas: Teacher Recruitment and Preparation; Development, Support, and Retention of Education Employees; Evaluation and Compensation; and Education Employee Engagement in Education Reform.

Since we are often compared to Finland, I was impressed when the very first thing Finland’s minister of education said was, “We love our teachers. We really love our teachers.” It soon became very clear that education employees are given the respect they deserve as professionals. Finland is heralded as number one in education around the world and their education employees are 100 percent union. A comparison in our country would be to look at Massachusetts, whose schools are consistently ranked as number one and whose education employees are 100 percent union. Does anyone else see a trend that deserves another look?

Other recurring themes in many of these countries include strong communication between policy makers and the education employee unions; a commitment to find ways to bring “new” money to the budget to fully fund their education systems; and a sincere desire to bring respect to the profession of teaching to attract and retain the very best individuals who have made the education of our children a career choice.

I left the summit feeling inspired, but also disappointed with the reality of what is happening in Alabama to our education employees. I believe the way forward for our state is through open, honest dialogue that will result in a greater respect for our profession and the men and women who have devoted their lives to the children of this state. Our education professionals should be looked upon as the strong pillars of our communities and our state. Instead, we find ourselves labeled as the stumbling block to education reform and we find our democratic freedoms have become economic targets. Too many of our legislators must be reminded that while compliance can be mandated, excellence must be unleashed. We are the guardians of the teaching profession and it is up to us to defend our profession against the attacks we are facing. It is time to take a stand for our public schools, the children we serve, and our profession.

As a grandparent, parent, and professional, I am concerned about the damage being done to the educational opportunities for our state’s children. How on earth do some legislators expect to retain and attract the best of the best to our profession when they are constantly demoralizing what we stand for and expect us to shoulder, from our own pockets, the cost of the financial crisis we now face?

I encourage those not in education to look closely at who we are. We are more than education employees. We teach Sunday School, we sing in the choir, we belong to community civic organizations, chair and organize charitable events to support the needy in our communities, work in soup kitchens, live and work in our communities that we love and support. We are your neighbor. We are professionals and should be treated as such.

We are also tax payers, and as such I am deeply troubled by what this legislative agenda is doing to our public education system and the adverse effects it will have on our children’s future. We are also voters, and I feel confident we will have our voices heard at the polls in the primary and general elections. As the old saying goes, “You can only kick a dog so many times before it bites back!”rs of our communities and our state. Instead, we find ourselves labeled as the stumbling block to education reform and we find our democratic freedoms have become economic targets. Too many of our legislators must be reminded that while compliance can be mandated, excellence must be unleashed. We are the guardians of the teaching profession and it is up to us to defend our profession against the attacks we are facing. It is time to take a stand for our public schools, the children we serve, and our profession.

As a grandparent, parent, and professional, I am concerned about the damage being done to the educational opportunities for our state’s children. How on earth do some legislators expect to retain and attract the best of the best to our profession when they are constantly demoralizing what we stand for and expect us to shoulder, from our own pockets, the cost of the financial crisis we now face?

I encourage those not in education to look closely at who we are. We are more than education employees. We teach Sunday School, we sing in the choir, we belong to community civic organizations, chair and organize charitable events to support the needy in our communities, work in soup kitchens, live and work in our communities that we love and support. We are your neighbor. We are professionals and should be treated as such.

We are also tax payers, and as such I am deeply troubled by what this legislative agenda is doing to our public education system and the adverse effects it will have on our children’s future. We are also voters, and I feel confident we will have our voices heard at the polls in the primary and general elections. As the old saying goes, “You can only kick a dog so many times before it bites back!”

 

 

Date: 04/11/14
Category: Political

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