Unconquered and unbowed
By Anita Gibson, AEA President
Educators and the education profession have endured much over the past four years: cuts in education funding, cuts in pay, increases in PEEHIP and TRS contributions, the ending of AEA representation on the TRS board, the end of payroll deduction, etc., all designed to break us, but we survived. And we survived as a united organization. That unity must continue. We must continue to stand together for the future of public education and the future of the students we serve.
In my May 29, 2014, article entitled “Enough is enough,” I encouraged all my education brothers and sisters to exercise their right to vote. I detailed how important that right was and is. On June 3rd we began the process of reclaiming all that has been taken from public education over the past four years. But we must not get complacent. The fight is not over. We must continue to speak up and out about our profession. We must continue to define who we are and what we do and not allow others to do it for us.
The poem “Invictus,” written by William Ernest Henley, is said to be a parallel to his life, but I imagine we can all relate to this particular poem in some form or fashion in our own life. I submit to you we can also relate as an Association. In the poem, Henley writes, “I thank whatever gods there may be for my unconquerable soul.” We have a resilient spirit and an unconquerable soul and we will continue to fight for public education. Henley also writes, “My head is bloody, but unbowed.” With all the attacks over the past four years on the Association and public education, we may be bloodied, but we remain unbowed.
As you prepare to return to school, my hope is that amidst the continued professional development opportunities in which you participate during the summer, the catching up with family events and activities, and the part time jobs, you have had some down time to revive, refresh, and rejuvenate for the upcoming year.
I encourage each of you to get involved and stay involved in your Association on the local, state, and national level. We must continue to spread the message about our great public schools and the dedicated employees who work in them. We must continue to remain vigilant and remember as Henley states in the poem, “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” We are the soul of public education and we must remain unconquerable. It is up to us.
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