I’ve had this written down for a few days now. It’s gotten into my craw and is festering until I get it written, so why not now?
First, I’ve written about this twice, first in 2015 in a blog titled, A Teacher’s Voice, and again in a 2017 blog titled, Teachers, The Age of Iowa Nice Has Passed. In both blogs, I implored us as teachers, as a profession to start the conversation about what WE want I wrote about how we need to engage our parents, our communities, our legislators, and tell them, in no uncertain terms, what it is we need for our students and for ourselves.
Both of these blogs, written as the campaign season started, were well received, but yet, we shot ourselves in the foot as a collective profession. In 2016, in Iowa, we gave Republicans control of the House, Sentate, and Governorship. They proceed to begin the dismantling of our collective bargaining law, which has led to issues with bargaining all over the state. The statement, “Because we can,” was reportedly said over and over again by school boards and superintendents, creating handbooks of contracts that were worked on for decades.
In 2018, we gave the Governorship back to the Republicans, along with giving them continued control of the House and Senate. More tomfoolery (tax cuts, tax breaks) has ensued.
So, you’d think, it’s 2019, we’ve had four years of this nonsense, we HAVE to start coming to our senses. That’s when I read this post on Facebook from a teacher friend of mine:
I rarely ever share politics or get involved in politics on social media, because I’ve been told so many times it’s just not advised, wise, and no need to stir the pot, or open cans of worms
Now, this teacher went on to talk about the crisis at the border, which is stirring the pot in our part of the world. However, that first statement just floors me. When will we learn that we cannot just sit back and think that our elected officials will do the right thing, we simply can’t.
However, as I gnashed my teeth, this popped up on my Twitter feed:
Education is political. All of it. What you teach, what you make, what your school has and what it doesn’t, it’s all politics. If you aren’t paying attention, you are part of the problem. When you say “I’m only here for the positive stuff” you’re actively a part of the problem. @Maire_from_NJ
This tweet gave me hope. The teachers in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, Kentucky,
Can we just admit, if we want to see change, WE as teachers have to be that change. We can’t wait for the politicians to make the change, they will never listen and will change what the other voices are telling them to change. We can’t wait for the reformers because, again, these are people, listening to others, not us. WE have to be that voice of change, and change sucks! I hate change! I’m a creature of habit and a creature of routine.
Part of this change, we have to get political, period. Since 2016, I’ve seen organizations by teachers like I’ve never seen. Our Republican legislator made the rule (totally to screw with unions) that each time we went to renegotiate, we had to recertify. The best part of this, we had to have 50% +1 vote to for representation to be done by our local associations. If someone did not vote, it would be considered a “no” vote. These are the things our legislature and ones all over the country are doing to our profession. We HAVE to continue to organize. We HAVE to find education friendly candidates. We HAVE to get out to talk with the public about what we need. We HAVE to build those relationships that will help us get our collective voices heard. Now. All over the country, teachers continue to push forward with fewer dollars, less respect, and more work. If we continue down this road, more of our young teachers will have a look at the profession and jump ship, leaving at a time where we need them. We have to right our profession, and now is that time.
This is our time to rise above the fray and really get our voices heard. We are adept at social media, many of us blog, but we need more. We have to have more or we’ll spend more time wondering “how did this happen” when we have elected more people who don’t care about us, our students, but only the money that can be made.
This has gotten ranty, so I’m going to close with the last two paragraphs of that 2015 blog. I challenged Iowa teachers, then, but now, I challenge all of us. I believe in that challenge more now than at any point in my career. Not political? Nope, we have to be and if you aren’t part of this solution, you are part of the problem.
I challenge you Iowa teachers: get your blog up and going, use the voice that social media gives us to make a stand, to create a statement. And don’t stop. Just like we tell our students, just write. Write about your classroom, your co-workers, your school. Bring your classroom out to the public so we ALL can see the damage that is being done. I challenge you to make your voice heard. If you do it and I do it, that’s two. Let a few more join in and suddenly, we have something.
I will say this as well, until we stop thinking about “best for the party (Democrat or Republican) and start thinking “best for Iowa” all the writing and stories and attention will mean diddly squat. If we don’t put that aside and do what’s best for Iowa, this last year will seem like a dream.