On Tuesday, I met with Senator Jeannie Forrester (R)--the representative for my area--to go over education policy concerns. I cannot express enough the importance of teachers becoming activists. Because Senator Forrester is not on the Senate Education Committee, where many of the concerning bills are currently sitting, she was not aware of the language held in some of the lesser known bills that I have discussed on here previously. Chances are your senator is in the same situation. We pulled up each bill on gencourt.com and discussed the concerns teachers have in regards to each one. It is crucial that we take the time to discuss these concerns with our senators BEFORE they reach the Senate Floor.
Senator Forrester was impressively attentive to our discussion and graciously gave me 45 minutes of her time, taking notes and asking questions. She told me that she believes in discussing issues with the professionals who know best, and that in the case of these education issues, teachers are the professionals. She wants to hear from us. This is the general feeling I am getting from all senators--and so I urge you, once again, to write to the Senate Education Committee and your senator about the issues that are going to affect us on a day to day basis. If writing the letter overwhelms you, I have form letters on the right hand side of my blog--please use them!
At some of my presentations, I have heard teachers say, "I just figured the union was taking care of these issues." While I believe we need to be unified in times of strife and attack, I want to let people know that the NEA has told me that they are not alerting their members to all of the bills on the table because it is too overwhelming. But I believe that there are bills that aren't being talked about (like HB 216) that nobody is discussing that will get slipped in because we weren't aware. Furthermore, because the union is under attack right now, our individual voices are almost more powerful--we are seen as teachers and professionals when we approach individually rather than lobbyists. This has a great deal of impact. So pick your passion (or two!)--and I urge you once again to write to Concord. Your voice has more sway than you think--elected officials, no matter what party, want their constituency to guide them through these tricky times. Be that guide.