It’s hard to believe that I have been serving as your PSEA president for nearly four months now.
2018 was a whirlwind marked by victories, a few setbacks, and the loss of a talented leader and friend.
We achieved so much together – continued investments in our schools, a comprehensive safe-schools program, and outsourcing reforms to protect the jobs of dedicated school support professionals. We helped elect champions of public education, including Gov. Tom Wolf.
2018 also marked the sudden and unexpected passing of our PSEA president, Dolores McCracken.
This issue of Voice pays tribute to Dolores – a resolute leader and fierce advocate for public education and the students we serve. I counted her among my closest friends. I miss her every day.
Thankfully, I have drawn strength from so many of you, my PSEA brothers and sisters. You have been with me every step of the way through this difficult transition.
Now, as spring beckons, I look ahead with hope and optimism. It’s a great feeling after a trying winter.
One reason I am hopeful is because our union is as strong as ever. PSEA members have largely rejected a billionaire-funded campaign to undermine our union. We understand the value of sticking together, and that has allowed us to be voices for change in the halls of the Capitol and at bargaining tables across the commonwealth.
When I started my career in teaching more than 30 years ago, there was never a question I would join and be an active citizen in my union. As a matter of fact, my very first day on the job at a school in New Jersey, I walked a picket line in solidarity with striking bus drivers.
Years later, I served as president of the Harrisburg Education Association during a tumultuous time when our local was under constant scrutiny. People sometimes ask me why I did it. That’s an easy one. Because I believe in public education and the amazing people with whom I have worked. If I can give you and your students a voice, I’m all in.
In the coming months, lawmakers and Gov. Wolf will negotiate a budget and related education policies. PSEA members will be there, speaking up for our students and each other.
The billionaire-funded attacks on our union will continue. Be vigilant and tell your story to friends and colleagues about why you belong to PSEA and the difference it has made for your students and your profession.
And thank you for always being there for me. It’s been an amazing ride so far, and I look forward to the next leg of our journey together. Please reach out to me and let me know what’s on your mind. Together, there is no stopping us.
Email Rich Askey: firstname.lastname@example.org