By Dr. Gregory T. Graves, AEA Associate Executive Secretary
As the school year comes to an end and we begin to reflect upon it, I wanted to take this opportunity to simply thank each and every one of you in public education for the work that you do.
Nobody goes into public education to get rich. You do it because you have a calling to serve and to prepare future generations. You arrive early and you stay late. To do your job, you pay for basic supplies out of your own pocket. You do those things because you know that they have to be done. You don’t ask for a parade or a party, but everyone would like a thank you every now and again.
However, as you get ready to go to the beach, or the lake, or just to the house for some rest, it is incumbent upon me to remind you that, over the last four years, you’ve gotten zero thanks from those who should support you most – our Legislature. Rather than a thank you, you’ve been repeatedly slapped in the face.
Most, if not all of you are tired and need a mental break. The end of the school year is too joyous an occasion to again go through the laundry list of insults, but recent events made one stand out. House Speaker Mike Hubbard, when questioned by AL.com about the growing cloud of corruption swirling around him, said that it was not a conflict of interest for him to vote on bills that specifically benefitted one of his marketing clients, and no one else. What stood out to me was when he said, “Lawyers will vote on issues affecting the law, and teachers will vote on issues affecting teachers.” One small problem Mr. Speaker is that one of the first acts you passed when you took the leadership gavel made it illegal for teachers to represent their fellow citizens in the legislature. Lawyers, used car salesmen, public relations people, and business people are free to serve, but not educators. Mr. Speaker you stand corrected; teachers can’t vote on issues affecting them anymore, because you made it a priority to make sure that would no longer happen. Why?
One of the most important events this summer will be the party primary elections, which will occur on Tuesday, June 3. It is imperative that everyone reading this vote in the primary. Regardless of which party’s primary you participate in, please take the time to review which candidates support public education. There are pro-education candidates in both parties. If you need help figuring out who they are (and are not), please contact your UniServ Director.
Also, make sure that everyone you know, your “friends and kin” as my predecessor would say, gets to the polls and supports public education as well. All the bad things that have happened to you over the last four years can be undone over the next four, but that has to start on June 3. Make sure that everyone you are counting on to go vote has photo identification, as that is now required to vote. If you or someone you know needs help getting a photo ID, please contact your UniServ Director and we can point you in the right direction.
In closing, stand strong through the next few weeks, whether your system is in standardized testing or not. Enjoy the company of your students and colleagues. Then, take some well-deserved time to rest and recharge (except for June 3). I cannot thank you enough for all that you do. Just remember, we need to elect candidates that seek to build our profession, not tear it down. The process begins June 3, and it begins with you!
As always, together we stand.