By Anita Gibson, AEA President
November 4, a few short weeks away, will mark the culmination of political season in Alabama for a while. It will also be the end of some political careers and the beginning of others. As in past elections, too few Alabamians will exercise their right to vote, and in some areas the right person for the job will not be elected.
With this sad fact in mind, bear with me as I repeat myself yet again. As public education employees, everything about our careers is controlled by either an elected official or someone appointed by an elected official. How can we afford to let this scenario continue to play out? I am confident that many of my colleagues have been working campaigns, attending meetings, going door-to-door, etc. I know this to be true because we have seen the fruits of their efforts in many primary elections. Regrettably, far too many of my colleagues have yet to engage in the process of electing pro-public education candidates, and far too many will stay at home on November 4.
As you contemplate your personal state of being in regard to this election, please keep the following in mind.
Education is the tool that breaks down the walls of poverty and oppression. Public education is the only hope many of our children have for a brighter future. Over the past four years we have witnessed more cuts to our public schools than any other state in this nation. Our children have suffered as a result of these cuts.
Every child, EVERY CHILD, regardless of the color of their skin, their current zip code, or the size of their family income, deserves a world class education, a clean and safe learning environment, and a highly qualified, dedicated professional in every position in their school. This will not happen if we are disengaged in the election of pro-public education candidates for our elected leadership positions.
Our elected officials must value our profession and understand the importance of competitive salaries and benefits and a decent wage for our valuable support staff. They must recognize the importance of COLA’s for our retired colleagues who continue to give so much to our profession.
Many of our current legislators have been willing to sacrifice the education of an entire generation of children as they attacked our profession, and our public school system in an effort to turn a profit.
It is time they understand THE EDUCATION OF THE CHILDREN IN ALABAMA IS NOT FOR SALE!
The education of our children is not a political party issue, and we can no longer afford to let our children be used as political pawns. We do not separate our classes or buses with Democrats on one side, Republicans on the other side, and Independents down the middle. We teach all children, and all children deserve the opportunity for a great public education. We must elect pro-public education candidates who understand the critical roll our public schools play in the success of this generation of students, as well as future generations; who understand and appreciate the need to update our facilities and our teaching tools; who understand that everything about learning is not quantified; who value the voice of educators on education issues.
As you make a personal decision to be engaged or disengaged in this election do not forget what this election means to public education, and our profession. It means EVERYTHING!
It is unacceptable that our children go to schools that are dilapidated, where textbooks are falling apart, with pages missing and too few for every student to have their own book. It is unacceptable that funding for our school libraries continues to be slashed and deleted from the budget. It is unacceptable that in 2014 we still have chalk and chalkboards in any classrooms. It is unacceptable that the only technology in too many of our classrooms in one outdated desktop computer for 28 or more students and the teacher.
It is unacceptable that educators must use their personal resources to ensure that their students have the up-to-date materials to succeed. It is unacceptable that the voice of our profession is being ignored in the decision making process concerning our profession.
It is unacceptable that dedicated qualified, caring professionals are being forced to work two and three jobs in order to provide for their own families and many are leaving our profession all together.
HEAR ME AND HEAR ME WELL – OUR CHILDREN ARE SUFFERING!
We, each and every one of us, have the power to stop their suffering with our vote.
The decision is yours – engage and change things, or be disengaged and let this stupidity continue.