Thanks to all our members who are teachers and school employees for all your hard work, perseverance and passion. AFT President Randi Weingarten also had a message for the nation at large on this special day:
When it comes to appreciating educators, please heed an old expression: Walk the walk, don’t just talk the talk. Educators go into our profession because they want to make a difference in students’ lives. They need real investments in teaching and learning, like books, supplies and smaller class size; a voice in what happens in their schools; and latitude in their classrooms so they can tailor their teaching to meet the needs of their students.
Teaching is hard work, and teachers need to know we have their backs. Give them the resources to do their work, and pay them enough so that they can support their families doing the job they love and don’t have to work two or three others just to earn a living wage. The best way for us to appreciate educators is to hear what they’re saying, understand what they need to succeed, and help them secure the resources and support they need for themselves and their students.
Twenty-nine states still provide less total school funding per student than before the Great Recession hit. Numerous states have slashed education spending in order to pay for large tax cuts. Teachers in several of those states—like West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona and Colorado—were among those who have walked out in protest in recent weeks.
These educators, who have bravely walked out of their classrooms for their students and their profession, have made some strides, from modest pay increases to promises to keep health insurance premiums in check. But much more progress is needed on these economic and educational issues, to ensure sufficient funding for public schools and to offer teachers the respect and professional treatment they deserve.