Monday, November 12, 2012
Not sure how I got on their email list, but here it is:
Dennis Van Roekel
The Way Forward
This is a wonderful time of celebration and hope. I am proud of NEA’s role in Tuesday’s historic election. We worked hard, making over 1 million telephone calls to NEA members, knocking on doors, attending campaign events wearing our NEA blue with pride, and doing media interviews--you name it--we did it. Altogether, we reached an estimated 5 million members and their families during this election cycle and expanded our reach to tens of millions more voters across the country. Our hard work for our students’ futures and for working families paid off.
The election will continue to be dissected and analyzed in the coming days. There are a few points that stand out for me from Tuesday’s results and they’re worth remembering as we move forward:
Educators are powerful allies.
Americans remain committed to the values of fairness and equality.
Voters agree that collaboration is key to education reform.
There is strong support for the rights of workers.
Educators are powerful allies
As we celebrate and take stock of Election Day 2012 election, I want to make sure we don’t miss the fact that educators-NEA members-helped to make a winning difference. We’re proud of the fact that polling results of early voters showed that one in three voters said they heard from a teacher, education worker, or volunteer during the last few months. This is important because it confirms that educators understand that politics and politicians impact schools, classrooms, and our families. Regardless of whether we voted for Democrats or Republicans in Tuesday’s election, no one can doubt that NEA members are united and deeply committed to advancing pro-public education candidates and issues.
American values prevailed
As much as the focus is on winning in any election, the real story from Tuesday is not which candidate won, but the ideals and values that prevailed. All across the nation, voters recognized that there were two visions for the country. And we chose to chart a course for our future that leads to economic prosperity for all Americans, rather than one that leads to a continually shrinking middle class. Voters saw through the attempts to suppress their voices and votes. I’m so proud that NEA members partnered with our allies in the civil rights community to stop voter suppression. Some of you registered people to vote, while others were poll monitors, and yet others helped partner organizations educate voters about the requirements for voting. And Americans in Maryland, Maine, and Washington approved social justice ballot measures that not only help make America more just under the law, but also helps us evolve into a more inclusive society. In the end, Americans on Tuesday left no doubt that when it comes to the economy, education, and civil rights-fairness and equality must be our guiding principles.
Collaboration is key to education reform
As educators we have rightfully struggled to be a part of discussions about our students and our profession. We know how to transform public education in America so that all students, regardless of their background or where they live, get the education they need to succeed in life. Despite some well-funded campaigns across the country, voters rejected efforts to remove the voice and experience of teachers from education reform discussions. Just look at the results from Propositions 1, 2, and 3 in Idaho where in sweeping fashion, voters struck down the divisive “Luna laws” which would strip away teachers’ freedom to speak up on behalf of their students. Look to Indiana’s election of a highly decorated teacher, Glenda Ritz, as its new Superintendent of Public Instruction. Indiana voters ousted Superintendent Tony Bennett, a leader who routinely and intentionally excluded the voice of educators from discussions about education reform. We know that real and lasting reform comes when educators, parents, elected officials, and community leaders collaborate. And these results should signal education reform candidates that American voters prefer education leaders to be collaborative, not combative.
Strong support for the rights of workers
We know all too well that no great victory is ever won without a struggle. The clear victory in Idaho to overturn the rollback of collective bargaining rights was hard-fought and thrilling. So was South Dakota’s rejection of an education reform initiative that was crafted without the voices of educators. Despite these wins, however, the effort to write collective bargaining rights into Michigan’s constitution was defeated after opponents outspent us 2 to 1.
Some will attempt to explain the defeat of the Michigan ballot measure as a rejection of public support for collective bargaining rights. But a poll released Wednesday showed that 70 percent of Michigan voters continue to support the right of workers to organize and bargain collectively over wages, benefits, and working conditions, including a majority (55%) of those who voted “NO” on Proposal 2. The defeat of Proposal 2 had more to do with the hesitancy of voters to change the state constitution rather than a rejection of the right of workers to have a voice in their workplace.
Recent polling shows that there is still strong support for the collective bargaining rights of workers-even in some of the reddest states. Given the wins in Idaho and South Dakota, as well as Ohio voters’ stunning rejection last fall of Gov. Kasich’s collective bargaining repeal bill, it is clear that voters strongly believe workers should have a voice in their workplace.
The path forward and turning to Lame Duck
The results of this election give us great cause for optimism. We have education champions at every level. From the White House to the United States Congress, to state legislatures and local school boards, we have individuals who share a deep and abiding commitment to public education, our students, and America’s future.
As we savor our contributions and the victories of Election 2012, the challenge of the “lame duck” session of Congress looms high on the horizon. Next week when the current Congress returns for the closing weeks of this session, we must join our collective voices to demand that our elected officials hear the message from voters in this election and find a balanced solution to the nation’s impending fiscal cliff-one that doesn’t leave our students left to fend for themselves. It’s up to us to push Congress to put students and America’s future at the top of our nation’s list of priorities. I therefore urge you all to take the “Kids Not Cuts” pledge (http://educationvotes.nea.org/kidsnotcuts) as a way to send a strong message to members of both parties that our nation’s students shouldn’t bear the brunt of the country’s economic troubles.
The voters have spoken and now we join our fellow Americans in making sure that our elected leaders stay true to the values espoused in precincts across the nation. We sent a clear message about the kind of country we want. We want an America that celebrates the incomparable gifts of our diversity and acknowledges the imperative of investing the future of our children and nation. We will work together and we will accomplish even greater things. We will continue to rebuild the nation’s economy from the middle out and we’ll make sure that our values of fairness and equity guide our paths forward.
We did it NEA Family. My sincere congratulations and deepest thanks for all you’ve done and all you continue to do to help keep moving our great nation FORWARD!-