Belmont, Mass.,
March 2, 2010  

Governor, Legislators, and Secretary of Education

We are honored to have you here tonight to discuss an issue of mutual concern: education. Thank you for coming after a full days work. We very much appreciate that.

Now let me introduce those who sit before you and then make a few introductory comments.

Many of us are parents. Most of us are union members. All of us are teachers who have dedicated our lives to educating the children of this state. Notwithstanding the modest salaries associated with our profession, we are proud to say we teach in the state where public education was born over a century before the country itself was founded.

Yes, we are proud of our state and of our profession, but we are also concerned. Ever since the Education Reform Act of 1993 was passed, we have been subjected to unremitting criticism in the media. We have been blamed for underperforming students and schools. We have been vilified. There are those who claim we are the problem. Nor have we heard many positive words of praise and appreciation from either appointed or elected leaders.

But this concern pales in comparison with the concern we share for our students, whose education, we fear, is being severely narrowed by an undue emphasis on test prep and also encumbered by burdensome regulations. We want a broader and more creative educational experience for our students no less than for our own children. In fact, many of us in this room became who we are today because we were privileged to receive that kind of thoughtful, well-rounded education.

Honored guests, we need to be treated with the same respect that all hard-working people deserve. We are not hacks. We are not uncaring. We are not even primarily an interest-group. Rather, we are first and foremost teachers. We are a resource. We feel we actually know something about education and that our experience is valuable. Therefore, we wish to play an active role in the formulation and implementation of education policy. We are not interested in tokenism. We seek participation that is substantive, sustained, and meaningful on all committees, commissions, and boards concerned with education.

In this, we ask for no more than what doctors and lawyers would expect when reforms in medical and legal practice are being considered.

This evening, we hope to begin a process of communication that will lead to the inclusion of teachers in the policy-making process.

Again, we want to thank our guests for their presence here tonight.

Bill Schechter

All written material © Bill Schechter, 2016
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