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Teachers: Time to Walk and Time to Talk

A message to teachers. . .

How about those teachers in Georgia, Kentucky, and Oklahoma? After years of unimpressive pay and lack of respect for a job that demands hearts, minds, and souls, teachers have found a unified voice. Maybe young people inspired this courageous move. Maybe the time simply arrived.

How powerful would it be if teachers in every — single — state walked out and stayed away until educational needs were met? Yes, we rightfully worry about what happens to the children if teachers do not show up. I know. I share that. However, maybe more benefits will actually materialize for kids if teachers take action. Not enough supplies? Do you have more students than desks? Do your state representatives want to destroy Teacher Retirement? None of this helps children learn. All of it damages teachers.

I’m not convinced that most teachers who leave the profession do so because of low salaries. Salaries matter of course. Working conditions always seem to be the deal-breaker. A lack of supplies for children might just push teachers over the edge. What if teachers across the nation applied the word used so eloquently by our recent school shooting survivors to say, “Enough”?

I admit that this seems easy for me to say. I’m retired. Although removed from the reality teachers face, I recall that as a single parent I needed every penny earned to take care of my children and maintain our home. Not easy to buck the system when urgent financial needs drown out challenges at work. I understand the threat of losing a job you desperately need. And yet, I want each and every one of you to list what you need (and do not have) to simply do your job. In addition, list what you need personally (not just want but need) to survive with a bit of dignity. And then, walk out shouting a message that all those in charge will hear. Enough is enough. Kids are important. Teachers deserve respect. What in the world could be more important than supporting public education? Absolutely nothing.

Of course, I’m reasonable enough to recognize the importance of food, health, safety, and shelter. But, if the government does not value educating all of our kids what kind of a world can we hope to realize? In states like Texas, where the governor and legislators seem determined to destroy public education, drastic conditions demand previously unimaginable actions.

P.S. They really can’t fire all of you. Go for it!


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