By Estella Owoimaha-Church, EN-ACT Co-FOunder
If you are a teacher - or not - then you might have just spent this past weekend celebrating Labor Day; #MondayMotivation wasn’t necessary because Monday came and went. If you are an educator, then Labor Day also marks the beginning of the school for most. So, welcome back to school! We are wishing you a productive and peaceful school year full of success and self care.
In celebration of Labor Day and the new school year, EN-ACT wants to take a moment to say thank you for all you do and will continue to do this year. We’d especially like to say thank you to the teacher’s union and all laborers who help protect our rights to vacation, adequate pay, quality of life, and so much more.
This past year was one of teacher driven social changes and leadership. If you have been watching the news, then you have seen educators all around the country - even the world - stand up for the rights of their students, communities, as well as themselves. The #RedforEd Movement has continued to grow with more and more steam with every action teachers take towards protecting the children they serve.
I had the opportunity to join more than 30,000 fellow teachers in Houston, Texas this summer for the National Education Association’s Representative Assembly (RA) over the Fourth of July. The RA was definitely an overwhelming experience but what sticks with me is power, passion, strength, and compassion.
I watched thousands of educators come together to create agenda items, new business, and resolutions that tackled white fragility, white supremacy, aimed at decolonising education, promoting equality for all educators and students, and so much more. While in Houston, teachers mustered the energy to not only work full days, but to also march to the concentration camps in protest of children being wrongfully detained and separated from their parents all while being held in the most inhumane of conditions. It is a great motivator moving into the 2019-2020 school year to know that as I work here in Los Angeles, there are allies in Chicago, Baltimore, Jersey, Vegas - all over the nation - who are working on preserving students’ civil and human rights on a daily basis. It is affirming in my purpose and reminds me of my life’s mission.
More importantly, I am reminded of how important my union is in this work; how important unions have been in protecting the human and civil rights of all workers. If you are an educator or work in a unionized space, please be sure to join your local union. Get active! Even if all you take are “small” actions, moving forward together is all that matters. If you are unsure where to start, begin with browsing the NEA and CTA websites.
As you kick off this new school year, if no one has said it to you yet and if no one says it to you all year, allow me to - THANK YOU! Thank you for all do and have done. Thank you for all you will do. Your service, though often unrecognized, is imperative. Remember that everyday you choose to be at work is a form of direct action towards preserving our democracy and uplifting the next generation of change agents.
P.S. - Thank you to the teachers who have had the greatest of impacts on my life. I work as hard as I do to one day - hopefully - repay the debt I owe you. I hope I have made you all proud!
This blog is curated by EN-ACT creators, Mandy Matthews & Estella Owoimaha-Church.
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