Educators must channel anger into action

March 07, 2014 05:10 PM


By Anita Gibson, AEA President There is still time for you to contact your House member and encourage him/her to vote NO on the Senate version of the 2015 Education Trust Fund Budget. The House education budget committee will more than likely consider a substitute budget sometime next week. They need to hear from us as to what we want that budget to look like. It is inconceivable to me as to how hidden agendas control the business of this great state with so little opposition from the very people who elected those who find themselves entangled in this web of deceit. As I look back over the last three years and the actions of the legislature, I struggle with a range of emotions that run the full gambit – anger, frustration, disappointment, disbelief, sadness, ANGER, FRUSTRATION, etc. As I desperately try to reign in my emotions I am left with one recurring thought; I must find a way to channel my anger and frustration into something positive. I realize the only thing I have complete control over is my vote in the 2014 elections. Please join me as we channel our emotions into action that will result in a positive outcome for public education and our children by electing pro-public education legislators. I encourage you to take ownership of your rights. You are the one who can make a difference in your district. You and your family and friends are the individuals who vote in your district, and you are in the position to influence the voters in the 2014 election. The education of our children is an issue of importance to everybody in this great state regardless of political party affiliation. It is up to you, the voter, to ensure that those elected understand this. If you take ownership of this issue there will be a change in the Alabama Legislature, and a change in the way our state values public education for all. It is also inconceivable to me how education employees in this state are ignored, belittled, and lied to. We are pitted against one another in the hopes of dividing our loyalties. There is absolutely NOTHING right about the absence of a COLA for our retirees in the proposed 2015 ETF budget! This is not how we show respect and honor to those who have had such a huge impact on our profession and the education of the children of this state, many of us included. I am sure we can each think back on the influence of much loved education employees who guided and molded our lives, and ultimately played a huge role in our decision to become an educator. To all of our retirees, I extend my heartfelt appreciation and my personal commitment to fight for your inclusion in the 2015 budget by way of a COLA. There is NOTHING right about forcing education employees who have gone years without a raise, and who have actually been dealt a cut in their take home pay, to suffer yet another cut in pay. Look closely at the proposed education budget from the Senate. The funds are there to fund our PEEHIP AND provide a real raise for all education employees and a COLA for our retirees. It is all a matter of where the priorities of the legislators are placed. If you study the proposed budget you will find that amidst the commotion concerning “qualified” teachers and making sure we are evaluated on summative evaluation to ensure that only the best are in our classrooms, you will find that the Senate budget actually cuts funding for teacher professional development training by $500,000. Intertwined within this proposed budget you will find numerous “pet projects” that have actually had an increase in funding, or perhaps you will notice the new line item in the amount of $430,000 titled “LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY, STATE”. These are just a few examples of where priorities currently stand. Do not be fooled when you are told by your legislator that they would love to provide you with a raise and fully fund your insurance if only the money were available. The money is there. In the past it has been easy to sit back and assume everything would be alright. Those days are over! YOU must become involved. YOU must take ownership NOW. How many of you find it difficult to encourage your students or maybe your own child to enter into our profession? It is up to you to protect and preserve public education for future generations.

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Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
- Nelson Mandela