I want to start off with sharing a funny story, but one that also has an important message for all educators to remember:
It’s about a traveler who drives his car into a ditch in a very remote area. Luckily, a local farmer comes along to help with his big strong horse named Buddy.
He hitches Buddy up to the car and yells, “Pull, Nellie, pull.” But Buddy doesn’t move.
Then the farmer hollers, “Pull, Buster, pull.” But Buddy still doesn’t respond.
Once more the farmer commands, “Pull, Jennie, pull.” Nothing.
Then the farmer nonchalantly says, “Pull, Buddy, pull.” And Buddy easily drags the car out of the ditch.
The traveler is most appreciative, but also very curious. So, he asked the farmer why he called his horse by the wrong name three times.
The farmer replied, “Oh, Buddy is blind, and if he thought he was the only one pulling, he wouldn’t even try!”
I think we can all relate to Buddy. Sometimes we don’t know what we can do. We might not believe in ourselves, or we underestimate our own strength. But any one of us can start a movement and can be the catalyst for change.
There are so many issues that we can focus on: class size, poverty, family factors, technology, bullying, school violence, a fair funding process for our public schools, overcrowded classrooms, and outdated materials.
A huge issue facing many Ohio districts is House Bill 70. You take some of our most needy students and districts, evaluate them with an instrument designed for failure, then take away the elected officials and superintendents and replace them with CEO’s with virtually no educational background. Talk about a recipe for failure. Instead of providing training on Restorative Justice and wraparound services to care for the mental health and the behavioral needs of our students, they throw money at businessmen who are most likely to profit from the demise of public education, and then tell educators that you just need to work harder! We need better solutions that address the core issues, that give schools the tools and resources that they need to help our students!
Yet in the midst of all this chaos there is hope. Not only has the Janus decision not broken our Union, educators across the country have been inspired to rise up to advocate for change to make stronger public schools. The wearing “Red for Ed” campaign started when 75,000 educators in Arizona stood up for their students.
What began in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, Kentucky, and North Carolina is continuing across the country as educators and their students make their voices heard for strong public schools.
We see educators working around the clock to make a difference in the lives of their students and standing up to lawmakers to ask for better pay and school funding. We’re raising our voices together for our students, for our schools, and for ourselves as educators.
Sometimes it takes courage to create change, like with Buddy the horse. Which one of you will step up? What issue will you champion? Is it overtesting, is it the state’s flawed report cards, is it HB 70, or maybe Restorative Justice for our students? It does only take one of us to start a movement, but the power of the Union is that you are never alone. We have so many advocates here in NEOEA.
We are the leaders for public education. We are the catalyst for change. We are NEOEA Strong!
United we are stronger,
Published in our Summer Issue 2019 of News & Views.