Next week, May 2-6, is the 2016 National Teacher Appreciation Week (#ThankATeacher) and May 3 is National Teacher Day.
The National Education Association, which sponsors Teacher Appreciation Week along with the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA), has also designated next week Member Appreciation Week. There are events and luncheons planned throughout Region 6 and the rest of the nation, and many merchants and companies will offer us special discounts. I am thankful for everyone who makes an effort to reach out and thank educators for the work we do.
As a colleague and as president of WEAC Region 6 I appreciate you, but many Region 6 members tell me “appreciated” is not the best word to describe how they have been feeling lately. It is hard to feel that way when there is a cottage industry of interest organizations working to convince the general public that we should not be appreciated. These organizations are extremely well funded, and they have the ear of decision makers in the news industry. Our state government cuts our paychecks, takes away our bargaining rights and says we are such failures that our schools’ budgets need to be diverted to underperforming private and religious voucher schools. With alarming frequency, state and federal laws insult us and make it harder for us to help our students learn, grow and succeed.
For me, it is not just a coincidence that the Region 6 Representative Assembly (RA) comes on the heels of Teacher Appreciation Week every year. The RA is set for Saturday, May 21, in Madison. At the RA, professionals come together and truly appreciate each other as educators and as advocates for our work and work places.
At the RA, we walk the walk. At our first RA two years ago, we created WEAC Region 6. This year we will vote on a budget, and on resolutions and new business items that will set the union’s course for the next year. We govern ourselves, and we do it very well. We have maintained influence and strength against steep odds. Despite the state government’s best efforts, our public schools are still great places to get an education, and unions deserve much of the credit.
If you are not a Region 6 RA delegate, talk to your local union’s leaders about becoming one. Education employee unions are the most democratic organizations in the world, and there are never too many voices. Talk to your local officers and building representatives about attending the Region 6 RA and other ways you can get involved. Please don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and call the Region 6 office at 1-800-397-2287. I would really appreciate hearing from you.
President of WEAC Region 6