I don’t know how many times I said it in my 32 years as an elementary school teacher:
“Use your inside voices!”
Pass by my classroom after lunch on a Thursday in late spring, and you’d hear it. I’m sure many of you have said it at one time or another.
Well, the irony is not lost on me that now, as president of PSEA, I’m coming to you with a decidedly different message.
It is time to use our outside voices!
I’m not asking you to yell. There are 180,000 of us. We don’t need to yell.
I am asking you to be heard.
We are in the midst of budget season in Harrisburg, when policymakers hash out the details of school funding in the coming fiscal year and debate a slew of related bills.
As educators, we are among the most trusted professionals out there, according to multiple polls. I can tell you that when elected leaders start hearing from teachers, they listen.
So … time to use our outside voices.
One way we are doing that is by engaging our elected leaders on PSEA’s RESPECT initiative, including policies aimed at tackling Pennsylvania’s educator shortage, attracting more people of color to teaching, and ensuring that all students have access to caring educators, teaching assistants, nurses, counselors, school psychologists, and social workers. (You can read more about it – and how you can help – in the Voice cover story.)
We are also speaking up in support of reforms to the state’s educator evaluation system, continued investments in our public schools, and a bold initiative from Gov. Tom Wolf to detect and fix lead, mold, and asbestos contamination in older school buildings.
Together, our voices are being heard in the state Capitol, and we are making a difference.
Later this year, we will head to the polls to vote in the primary and general elections. It’s a big one this year, and I’m not just talking about the race for president.
We will elect 18 members of Congress, 25 state senators, and 203 state representatives – as well as an attorney general, auditor general, and treasurer. This is our opportunity to stand with the candidates who care about our schools, our students, and our rights. That’s an occasion for our outside voices if ever there was one.
I wish I could say that it will be easy, or that we will succeed in all that we do. It won’t be easy, but as educators and support professionals, we’re used to things not being easy.
Regardless of what happens, we will stand proud, knowing that we used our outside voices to speak up for what is right for our students, our schools, and each other.
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