This is for all of my friends and colleagues in the PEA and the IEA. I wish I could gather you all together in one place and speak to you directly from my heart. This will have to suffice.
I used to add to the PEA newsletter a closing Column called “Thoughts While Shaving” which seemed to generate some comment and interest. My subjects were often about committing the act of teaching and how it affected me and those around me. Now , as I prepare to move on to the next chapter of my story, I thought it would be worthwhile to reflect a bit and share my thoughts. If not for you, then for me.
Twenty three years ago I closed another chapter of my life story and returned to college to complete my degree and become a teacher. There are many reasons why I chose this path , but my simplest and truest explanation has always been that “I wanted to do something important.” My choice was the right one, and every time a meet a former student doing well in life I am reaffirmed.
I leave this path with mixed emotions but I am convinced that I am doing the right thing. The politicians have taken the joy out of teaching and I believe that if you can no longer find joy in what you do, it is time to do something else. Fortunately I’m in a position to do that. I will have to find part-time work to supplement my income and make ends meet and I am exploring my options. I still have a desire to serve and “do something important.”
As for you my friends, I leave you this advice. You must stand together. Our profession is under constant, vicious attack by those who wish to privatize public education, take away our hard-won rights, and turn teachers and their students into mindless drones whom they can control and exploit for a profit. Only together can you stand and fight. Only through the PEA , the IEA, and the NEA can we have the strength to stand up to this onslaught. What has happened to us in Idaho is bad. How bad could it have been without the people of the our union standing up to the forces of Lunacy I cannot imagine. I don’t want to think about it. I do know that the fight is not over unless we fold our tents and go home. We have lost some battles but I believe we can win the war, but only if we stand together. I cannot believe that some small number of people are thinking of leaving the union when unity is most needed. Over the years I have seen a few people get into a snit over some imagined slight and leave ,but I have seen far more recognize the importance of solidarity and join arms with their colleagues..
Right now we are engaged in negotiations with the school district. If you believe that we do not have enemies over on Poleline road, you are wrong. There are a few there who would love to see our numbers and thus our strength diminished. Do not play into their hands. Luna and his Lackeys in the legislature are hoping for an implosion of the IEA. It will not happen unless we let it happen. You are doing something important. Do not let the naysayers and the haters tell you otherwise. The kids and your colleagues are counting on you. Stay Strong!
As for me, I’ll not fade from sight. I’ll continue the fight, perhaps more vocally and more actively than ever. For one year, I will remain as a member of the PEA executive board. I will continue to write, to speak out, and to fight for all of you and for the future of public education. In fact, my voice may become louder and I already feel less inhibited in what I can say and do. I will probably help the PEA create a useful web page and continue to help organize community support.
I hold all of my colleagues who perform so admirably in the face of so much opposition in high esteem. I particularly raise up my colleagues in the PEA and IEA. I am so proud of my past , present, and continued association with you all. To my friends in the PEA, it has been one of the high points of my life to have been able to serve as your President. It has changed and enhanced my life. I hope to continue to serve even after my presidency ends on June 2. You are my heroes. and I really do love you all. Thank you for allowing me to be your leader.