Who Do We Appreciate?

This week, May 7-13, is National Teacher Appreciation Week, and May 9 was National Teacher Day (#ThankATeacher). Happy Appreciation to you.

WEAC and the National Education Association, which sponsor Teacher Appreciation Week along with the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA), do a great job of promoting Teacher Appreciation Week and our profession. Individuals and organizations throughout the nation acknowledge the occasion and plan events for it, and I am grateful to them.

Still, as a social studies teacher at Oregon High School and as president of WEAC Region 6, I talk to many Region 6 members who tell me “appreciated” is not the best word to describe how they feel. Our nation’s president and his secretary of education think so little of us and the work we do that they want to replace our public schools with private, for-profit institutions that are at best unproven when they haven’t been proven to do a poor job. Meanwhile, our state’s governor and the majorities in both houses of the Legislature echo the insults and agenda of Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos every chance they get.

For this reason, this year’s Region 6 Representative Assembly (RA) comes at the best possible time. Our RA is set for Saturday, May 20, in Madison, just a week after Teacher Appreciation Week ends. At the RA, professionals like you and me come together and truly appreciate each other as educators and as advocates for our students and our work. We honor excellence in public education by planning how to make our region’s outstanding public schools even better.

At the RA, we will vote on a budget, and on resolutions and new business items that will help the region collectively help local unions individually. With this approach for the last three years, we have maintained influence and built strength.

Our public schools are still great places to get an education, and this is the case in no small part because we have been successful in our public advocacy in school board elections, referendum elections and community organizing initiatives. Even as some of the worst imaginable candidates have prevailed at the top of the ticket, the overwhelming majority of our recommended candidates and school referendum initiatives have prevailed at the local level.

If you are not a Region 6 RA delegate this year, talk to your local union’s leaders about becoming one next time around. Education employee unions are the most democratic organizations in the world, and we would benefit from adding your voice. Talk to your local officers and building representatives about the RA and about other ways you can get involved. And please don’t hesitate to email me at region6.weac.wi@gmail.com or call the Region 6 office at 1-800-397-2287. We appreciate hearing from you.

In Solidarity,

Mark Lindsey

President of WEAC Region 6