A Message To Our Educators for Obama:
Our sincerest thanks to each of you for all you’ve done the past year to protect public education and its students by re-electing President Obama. President Obama is a friend of public education and because of your work volunteering, talking with your colleagues about the issues, and in the end going to the polls and casting your vote for President Obama; we continue to have that friend in the White House.
You recognized the importance of this election and its outcome, thousands of fellow NEA members joined you in the fight. In the final six weeks of the campaign alone, educator-activists made over 12,000 calls and mapped more than 17,000 Facebook networks, engaging their online friends in the election. Thousands of members volunteered with the Obama for America campaign, helping President Obama to take those final leaps across the finish line. The numbers are huge and they clearly made a difference; you made a difference.
Wisconsin EFO motivates others in fitness and in politics
First Lady Michelle Obama would love Marie Knutson, a kindergarten paraeducator who didn’t have to wait for Mrs. Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign to kick-off her own student fitness movement at Lien Elementary School in Amery, Wisconsin. The First Lady would also appreciate Knutson’s family values, personal mission of public service, and support of her husband’s education policies.
“The Obama administration has made education funding its highest domestic priority, from supporting early childhood education to promoting financial assistance to those who want to pursue postsecondary education,” says Knutson, who has served 22 years at Lien.
While attending a two-day Educators for Obama workshop held in August at the National Education Association (NEA) building in Washington, D.C., Knutson sharpened her skills on how to build community coalitions, engage volunteers, and work with the media.
“I have taken this information back to my local to help others become politically active,” says Knutson, a board member of the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC) and vice president of Northwest United Educators (NUE), a 2,300-member wall-to-wall local.
“In my area, there are four other races plus the presidential election that are important to public education,” she says. “Elected officials make decisions and laws that affect my daily life as an educator. I am in the trenches and they need to hear from me. My kids are depending on it!”
The leader in Knutson appreciates the power of grassroots organizing to get out the vote. She says she will do her best through Election Day to recruit education support professionals (ESPs) and other educators to join her in electing pro-education candidates, especially President Obama.
“The challenge is that educators do not get into public education to be political activists,” she says. “It is not second nature to us, so we need some training and educating about how politics impacts not only our students’ lives, but our own lives as well.”
While extensive training over the years has boosted Knutson’s organizing powers, community activism is in her bones. The oldest of three, she grew up in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. Her father was a union machinist and her mother was a teacher until she had children, then returned to the classroom as an ESP after 12 years.
Knutson loves to tackle hard problems and along with her colleague Tammy Wassberg, has started a fitness program at Lien Elementary called Walk and Talk. Through the exercise program, up to 350 students (kindergarten through second grade) walk and run on a quarter-mile track three times a day prior to lunch and two recess breaks (morning and afternoon).
“After the walk or run, you can see that they focus better and are able to cope with unstructured play,” Knutson says. “We have seen a great reduction of behavior problems in classrooms and improved behavior on evening bus routes.”
“I think it helps to boost their self-esteem,” says Knutson, who is quick to credit the program’s success to stellar teamwork between ESPs, administrators and teachers.
“No one person has all the answers,” she says. “For me, sitting on the sidelines and thinking someone else will take care of things is not an acceptable answer. The fact that Mrs. Obama came out with her “Let’s Move” initiative was a bonus, but we were on top of it!” –John Rosales
Get involved and motivate others to help re-elect President Obama like Marie from Wisconsin! It’s easy using tools in the new EdVotes Action Center.
Educators for Obama in All the Right Places
Gary and Kathy Kapostasy
The thousands of diverse educators who make up Educators for Obama have several important things in common, including their unwavering commitment to students and their belief that President Obama is the best choice for public education. They also get involved in every way they can, wearing their hearts on their sleeves, or more precisely, on the front of their T-shirts.
EFOs made a splash at two of the biggest political events of the week—the President’s Labor Day rally in Toledo, Ohio, and at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.—wearing their royal blue T-shirts bearing the EFO logo and proudly holding EFO signs overhead.
‘This day belongs to the working men and women of America,” Obama said in Toledo before a crowd of 3,000 union members and supporters from the Ohio Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, AFSCME and the United Auto Workers, which hosted the event at Scott High School. “It’s working people like you who helped lay the cornerstones of middle class security, things that people sometimes take for granted but weren’t always there.”
“It is unions like yours that helped to forge the basic bargain of this country,” the President continued, “a bargain that says if you work hard, if you’re responsible, you should be rewarded. If you put in enough effort, you should be able to find a job that pays the bills, you should be able to afford a home to call your own, to have health care you can count on if you get sick… and most importantly, you can provide your children with an education to make sure that they do even better than you.”
“It’s clear that President Obama respects what teachers do and that educators and educator unions are one and the same,” said Dan Greenberg, a high school English teacher and vice president of his Sylvania County local. “Unions are how we work together to advocate for good policies for better public schools for our all of our children.”
“I just can’t imagine having a president who doesn’t respect the work we do every day,” said Gary Kapostasy, who travelled from Findlay, Ohio, to the Labor Day rally in Toledo with his wife and fellow educator and EFO, Kathy.
It struck a personal chord with Gary that President Obama chose to celebrate the holiday with Ohio workers: “My dad was an organizer for the United Mine Workers Union. He’s been gone for 25 years, but I know that he’s up there smiling right now, and I’m smiling for him.”
Just a few days later and hundreds of miles to the south, EFO Bill Dooling was one of 200 NEA educators attending the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. Over the years, Dooling has attended a total of four conventions—dating back to his first one in Atlanta in 1988, when his then-Governor, Michael Dukakis, was nominated for president.
But Dooling believes this year’s convention was different from all the others. He believes the difference is connected to what’s at stake for students and the entire country.
“The stakes are enormous,” said Dooling. “We’re talking about two totally different visions of where America should go. Two sets of very different priorities. President Obama believes in investing in public education and understands that it’s an economic necessity to move this country and everybody in it forward.”
Dooling says he wishes those politicians who try to separate educators from their union could witness the passion teachers and education support professionals here in Charlotte have for making sure their students get what they need to be successful.
“Educators—like the dedicated people I see here in Charlotte—these are the people who make up the union,” said Dooling. “Lawmakers can’t say they support teachers, but then claim not to support our union. We are the union and we all share the same goal—making sure all students have access to a quality public education.”
Make a splash at events large and small by becoming an Educator for Obama, then responding to calls to action.
Educator voices count—so start talking!
If there’s one thing that EFOs learned watching the Republican National Convention this past week, it’s that now is the time to stand up and defend the President’s record.
Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan addressed his party on Wednesday night in Tampa, and the most prominent theme was deceit. Even Fox News labeled his speech as “deceiving.”
Here’s the truth:
· Ryan talked about Medicare and told us that President Obama cut $716 billion from its programs. In reality, the $716 billion savings were put back in the pockets of Medicare users.
· While Ryan blamed President Obama for closing a GM plant in his home town of Janesville, Wisconsin, the fact of the matter is it closed in 2008 under President George Bush’s watch.
· Ryan told the country that President Obama ruined the nation’s credit score, but in reality, Ryan’s own party voted against raising the debt ceiling, that is what hurt our country’s credit score.
What Ryan didn’t mention are his extreme views on issues that are important to the middle class. He didn’t talk about his budget and tax plan, which will raise taxes on nearly 95% of Americans. He left out that his budget would cut programs that help the poor and disenfranchised.
Lisa Magidow, an English as a Second Language Specialist in Easton Area School District, Pennsylvania, says it’s more important than ever for educators to be politically active, “because we work with kids”—and those kids’ futures are on the line in the November elections.
Educators are among the most trusted voices in the community. So when you speak out to correct Paul Ryan’s lies and defend President Obama’s record, it makes an impression.
In Magidow’s experience, “most people are willing to listen and . . . if you say that you are an educator, they are more receptive.”
She has been reaching out everywhere she can, through EFO phone banks, voter registration drives and by talking to friends and acquaintances at the local community garden. Her goal is to offer her perspective as an educator, which other community members might not have access to and might help inform their vote. Her advice for getting over fears is to keep in mind that you are the authority on education issues.
With the crucial upcoming elections, Magidow implores her fellow Educators for Obama to not let another day go by, “without talking to people, wherever you are, about Obama.”
With your students’ futures on the line, this is no time to be shy. Speak up and make sure your colleagues, friends and neighbors have the facts.
Lily Looks Ahead to November
Lily Eskelsen in the classroom
There’s no question that despite a hostile Congress, President Barack Obama has done all he can to help make college more accessible to middle class families. He acted to protect the Pell Grant program and freeze student loan interest rates and removed banks (which were turning a profit) as the middlemen between college students and federal aid.
NEA Vice President Lily Eskelsen recalls that it was exactly such direct federal loans that helped her attend college and launch her career as an educator and activist who used her platform as Utah Teacher of the Year to advocate for school funding.
Eskelsen recently took to the airwaves to explain to radio listeners that there is a clear choice in the November elections. “There are things that a politician believes in investing in, or doesn’t believe in investing in. The Obama administration has invested historic dollars in education…. Gov. Romney has specifically said on several occasions and in the book he wrote that class size doesn’t matter. You can ask any teacher, ask any parent, ‘Does class size matter? Does a personal relationship, that bridge between home and school matter?’”
Hear what else she had to say about the difference in the visions of the two candidates:
WJIM Michigan (Detroit, Michigan) Big Show with Michael Patrick Shiels
“Contacto Total” (Phoenix, AZ) with Gabriel Villalobos -- ESPAÑOL
Virginia teacher to Romney : We all count
Kellie Blair Hardt
Kellie Blair Hardt, a middle school special education teacher and president of the Manassas Education Association, says the GOP presidential candidate’s comment degrading education support professionals shows he just doesn’t get it.
“I thought it was important for me to be present wearing my Educators for Obama t-shirt when Mitt Romney made a stop in Manassas, Virginia, where I am a middle school special education teacher. When Romney said during his speech that school bus drivers have nothing to do with student success, he showed us once again that he just doesn’t get it.
ESPs, whether they are bus drivers or the assistant in my own special education classroom, are an integral part of the success of our students. From custodians to cafeteria workers to transportation employees, they make the school work. Any pro-public education candidate should respect that as well, because ESPs are an important part of our community. Romney’s statement should open the eyes of anyone who really cares about public education—he doesn’t understand it and that’s why ESPs are of no importance to him.
I’m in favor of pro-public education candidates—and Mitt Romney has shown us time and again that he is not one of them. He is against putting money into funding important early childhood education programs and he truly doesn’t get that class size does matter to a child’s education.
As president of the Manassas Education Association, I deal a lot with member concerns about class sizes and school funding. These are two huge issues I deal with daily, and it’s the same for a lot of locals in Northern Virginia.
As Educators for Obama, it’s our job to help people see how this election connects to the future of public education. I ask people to look at the facts of record and tell them, ‘you’ll find the public education candidate very quickly.’ The clear choice is President Obama.”
Be like Kellie and become an active Educator for Obama!
Educators party with a purpose
By Tyler Earl
Carlton House Party
You may be surprised that Educators for Obama asked participants to party until Election Day—but this is partying with a purpose.
Nearly 300 Educators for Obama signed up to host parties in their homes between the months of July and October to help other educators in their area become informed and excited messengers about the upcoming presidential election. Five lucky EFOs had the honor of hosting national NEA leaders at their parties, where guests shared views on education and the presidential campaign, as well as some friendly small talk about their schools and summer vacations.
Pamela Carlton, a special education teacher from Union County, North Carolina, was excited to host NEA Executive Committee member Princess Moss at her home, which was well-attended despite a sudden thunderstorm. Party guests discussed the reasons why they chose to back President Obama, and then the conversation turned to the efforts of the local and state affiliates to combat a state decision to prevent members of the North Carolina Association of Educators from deducting dues from their paychecks. Carlton said the sentiment among the partiers was that they were “not going to let anybody scare us because we have our rights…. Nobody’s going to scare us anymore.”
Meanwhile, in New Jersey, educator Heidi Olson faced a different problem in her Democratic state: voter apathy. Olson, who has been a special education teacher for 18 years and is the president of her local and county affiliates, said party guests brainstormed ideas to rally voters, concluding that it would be important to show candidate comparisons to their local groups and encourage student leaders to help get out the vote in the fall.
Olson House Party
Olson is a registered Republican, but she has been an enthusiastic supporter of President Obama and believes that “we need to be a part of politics and that means getting out to the polls and casting a vote for somebody who is going to include us in decisions… somebody who is going to care about the people of this country and not just care about…how many dollars can go into their pocket.”
Olson is not alone in this sentiment. At house parties across the country, enthusiastic guests and hosts laid out plans to canvass, phone fellow members, register voters, and encourage their neighboring affiliates to do the same.
Why do these Educators for Obama sacrifice their time and energy (and precious days of summer) for the campaign? Heidi Olson may have put it best when she said: “I don’t do it for the NEA, I don’t do it for NJEA; I do it for the members and the kids, because that’s who we are.”
For more information on Educators for Obama and to find out how you can make a difference in the re-election of President Obama, please click here.
The Bruns House Party!
Retired art teacher Pat Bruns and about 25 other Cincinnati-area educators welcomed Arizona educator and NEA President Dennis Van Roekel to an Educators for Obama House Party in Cincinnati July 25 to talk about the stark choice in this election and what members can do to make a difference. Bruns was selected to host Van Roekel as NEA leaders fan out across the country to attend these House Parties.
Bruns said hosting the House Party was an easy and fun way to be involved in the campaign. “To a person, everyone that I reached out to who was available, they were all very enthusiastic about coming and sharing in the discussion.”
Bruns’ friend Stacy Recker enjoyed the chance to socialize and talk about the election. “I thought the house party was a great way to bring people together, in a comfortable and casual setting, and the fact that Dennis Van Roekel made an effort to come out was really inspiring.”
Recker, a registered Republican, decided to support President Obama this year. “I feel abandoned by a lot of my party. For me, Obama is my choice because he wants to discuss the issues and I’m sick of the extremes. I want someone who wants to get something done. I’m frightened that Romney is kowtowing to the tea party and the extreme conservatives.”
Terry Conway, another House Party guest, spoke to the importance of all educators becoming politically involved. “It is important that educators become active this election year and every year because every political decision made impacts our classrooms and our kids.”
Bruns worries what would happen to education if Mitt Romney is elected. “I really don’t believe that the educators, who are on the front line and know students the best, would have any say in how things are done under Romney.”
Bruns was also concerned by Romney’s staunch opposition to smaller class sizes. “The research on class sizes is out there. He has gone on the record as saying that he doesn’t believe that class sizes matter. That is a good example of the lack of respect that he has for our profession and for the job that we do every day with kids.”
Bruns, Recker, Conway and other guests felt that, in addition to issues directly affecting public education, the fate of the middle class is at stake in this election.
“I’ve become part of the middle class as a single teacher. Obama gets that the middle class needs help and I don’t think that Romney gets that. Obama has risen through education, and his wife educated herself, and that’s why they’ve risen and that’s important to understanding the middle class. Obama is going to fight for the middle class and has the majority of Americans as his focus,” said Recker.
The educators at the House Party were excited to be involved in both the NEA and the Obama campaign efforts. Different members were planning to get involved in different ways, from phoning fellow members to canvassing with the Obama campaign to using NEA’s new, online social networking tool to posting and sharing notes on Facebook and Twitter.
With so much at stake for educators, students and the middle class this election, join Educators for Obama today. Make sure your voice is heard.
Northeast educators get on the bus to get out the word
What happens when you give a dozen northeast educators run of a yellow school bus for a day? In this case, you got a truth-telling tour aimed at drawing a sharp contrast between the values of President Obama and GOP candidate Mitt Romney.
New Hampshire Educators for Obama, joined by colleagues from Massachusetts, traveled around the Granite State on Wednesday, July 18, for a series of press conferences to show support for President Obama’s re-election and his recent announcement of a plan to create a new national Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Master Teacher Corps.
“Education is the cornerstone of President Obama’s plan for an economy built to last,” said Bonnie Doherty, a sixth-grade teacher from Manchester, N.H., at the tour’s stop in Concord. “The President has invested in education and worked to raise K-12 standards so that kids are better prepared for college, and he has taken steps to make college more affordable so that students from working-class and middle-class families can afford the college education they need to compete in the global economy."
The educators also stopped in Laconia, Rochester, Portsmouth and Manchester.
NEA-New Hampshire President Scott McGilvray, an educator with 23 years of classroom experience, said Romney’s past policies and current proposals make it clear that despite his claims, Romney doesn’t understand how the economy works—at least not for those outside of the wealthiest 2 percent.
“What Mitt Romney doesn’t seem to get is that when he cuts teachers’ jobs, he’s not only hurting hardworking teachers and our children, he’s hurting the economy and our ability to compete in future,” McGilvray said. “Mitt Romney didn’t understand that while governor of Massachusetts and his economic philosophy clearly shows that nothing’s changed.”
Erik Champy of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, who was also on the bus, said he would never want to go back to Romney’s failed policies. He pointed to former Massachusetts governor Romney’s record cuts to state aid for public education and crucial early education programs.
“We all know there is no better return on investment than on education,” said McGilvray. “Romney has it backwards.”
As an educator, no one is better equipped than you to spread the word about why President Obama is the best choice for public education. Sign up to be an Educator for Obama. July is EFO House Party month! Find out how you can move the President’s campaign forward with NEA members in your area.
Hear NEA-NH President Scott McGilvray speaking on the Obama Bus Tour
For EFOs, inspiration runs deep
Tamara Anglin says as an African-American educator, she is deeply committed to the President’s re-election campaign on both a professional and personal level.
That’s part of why she is a committed Educator for Obama. “The President has really tried to stand up for those people—and middle income people like educators—and ensure their rights.”
Anglin says Obama’s accomplishments on behalf of the middle class—preserving Pell Grants, keeping teachers in the classroom, and passing the Affordable Care Act—inspire her, a feeling that’s only grown since the day he became the nation’s first Black president.
“It makes me feel very proud to have someone that represents who I am and my family,” says Anglin. “[I]t’s personal because I can relate to him so much. It makes me feel like I should do more.”
Another Denver-area EFO, art teacher Susan Pinkney-Todd, says it’s the President’s commitment to public education that motivates her to fight for his re-election.
“President Obama is still engaging our union in conversation, which I appreciate, and I know that won’t occur with Mitt Romney,” says Pinkney-Todd of the presumptive GOP candidate. “My number one thing is that there still will be conversation with educators, the people who know and care about public education.”
She says part of her responsibility as an Educator for Obama is engaging members of her community in conversation, “to remind people that public education is one of the things that has made our country great.”
The fact that educators like Anglin and Pinkney-Todd are so committed to the students that they serve is what makes them trusted members of their communities.
“I think of the Democratic Party as being advocates for social justice,” she Pinkney-Todd, “keeping an eye on what is right and how we treat our citizens, being watchdogs on behalf of all people.”
Join these inspired (and inspiring!) Colorado educators—become an Educator for Obama. Then sign up to host an EFO house party, a great way to engage NEA members in your area in the President’s re-election.
Ohio educators to Romney: “We won’t forget”
By Amanda Litvinov/photos courtesy of OEA
Scott DiMauro, a high school social studies teacher at Worthington Kilbourne High School in Columbus, Ohio, became an Educator for Obama, he said, “because Mitt Romney’s attitude toward public education is alarming.”
He cites the presumptive GOP presidential candidate’s emphasis on privatization and his insistence that class size doesn’t matter as examples of Romney’s misplaced priorities.
Because he had signed on to an EFO Ready to Go team, DiMauro received a heads up about a press conference planned in conjunction with a Romney fundraiser hosted by Les Wexner, current CEO of The Limited brands, at his estate in nearby New Albany, Ohio, last Thursday. He was even asked to make a statement at the event. (If you’re a committed educator like DiMauro, become an Educator for Obama today!)
Surrounded by dozens of fellow Ohio Education Association members wearing the signature blue EFO t-shirts and holding signs, DiMauro vowed that as representatives of the middle class, educators “won’t forget how Romney has treated us.”
Romney said he supported it “110 percent” when Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed into law SB 5, a bill that silenced the voices of teachers, firefighters, police officers, nurses, and all public employees, threatening public safety and public education. Ohio residents said differently when they overturned the law with a citizens veto last fall.
“That attack on our collective bargaining rights—and Romney’s support of it—is something we won’t soon forget,” said DiMauro. “When Romney was asked recently about his education reform ideas, he said that he doesn’t believe that class size matters, and that’s something that we won’t forget.”
That’s why participating in actions like last week’s rally is so important to educators like DiMauro, who see the 2012 elections as a key step in the growing movement to stand up to the politicians and corporate interests that would take apart our public education system. You can join the movement today.
Romney has fared well among Ohio’s wealthiest, raising $1.5 million at the Wexner event, which included a $10,000 per person VIP reception, and another $3 million at an earlier fundraiser in Cincinnati.
Stacy Recker, a high school history teacher who participated in a counter-rally outside the Cincinnati event, says she kept an open mind about whom she would support in November until the end of the primary season, when she had no question that she could not back Romney’s run.
“He’s taken his cues from the Tea-publicans…and I don’t think they have the best interests of the American youth and their education at heart by cutting public school budgets and workers’ rights,” Recker said.
“If we care about the future of this democracy we need to have a President who promotes the value of the middle class and making public education a priority is a huge part of that,” said DiMauro. “President Obama has made investing in public education the basis of his economic agenda and that is something as public educators we won’t forget.”
All across the country, Educators for Obama are working to re-elect the president and send a message to Mitt Romney: The middle class, public employees, and the nation’s schoolchildren deserve to be treated with respect! Your voice makes that message louder—sign up today.
Retired Massachusetts teacher hits the road to protest Romney
As Lois Jacobs’ job evolved from library teacher to media specialist over the course of her 23 year career, she saw the first computers, Apple IIs, brought into school libraries to replace paper card catalogues. Now retired, Jacobs doesn’t recall feeling nostalgic about the transition.
“I am not interested in going backwards,” said Jacobs, referring not only to library operations but also to politics. The Massachusetts resident, who was a public employee and Massachusetts Teachers Association member during Mitt Romney’s single-term governorship, says one of her top concerns these days is the possibility of a Romney presidency.
“It was very much an imperial governorship,” she recalled. “He didn’t work that well with the statehouse, and he wasn’t open and available to us as citizens.” And that’s not all. “Trust me,” Jacobs continued, “he’s not here to see the public schools survive.”
That’s why Jacobs, who is part of the Educators for Obama “Ready to Go Team,” picked up and headed to New Hampshire after receiving an EFO alert that Mitt Romney would hold a fundraiser there. Wearing her royal blue t-shirt emblazoned with the EFO log, Jacobs joined fellow supporters of President Obama for a counter-rally (you can sign up for Educators for Obama and get involved in a Ready to Go team, too!).
“I decided it was time to put my boots on the ground,” she said. “I am a retiree on a fixed income, and I make donations when I can, but what I can give is my time versus my money. If they need me to show up holding a sign to say, ‘We’re not going away,’ that’s what I’ll do.”
And she implores others to do the same, issuing this strong warning: “If you don’t get involved and vote for the President’s re-election and let this other fella in, trust me, you’re going to see the demise of public education.”
Jacobs said she is supporting the President’s re-election because she’s been impressed by Obama’s efforts to keep educators in the classroom as well as his support of workers’ rights, women’s rights, and health care reform.
“There is no doubt that President Obama is supportive of public schools, the kind that serve every child in the neighborhood. If we don’t get him re-elected, educators will have no say in the classroom—and that’s if we can even keep our jobs. “
Romney did not get high marks from public school educators during his years as governor. He slashed funding for higher education by 15.9 million shortly after he was sworn in, and relentlessly targeted early childhood education programs in sweeping budget cuts. He has long insisted that class size doesn’t matter to the quality of a child’s education.
Jacobs is convinced that Romney “would be happy to see a corporate model applied to schools where principals are like CEOs, parents and kids are consumers, and teachers have no voice.”
She fears that decades of progress made through collective bargaining and educator-led reforms would be “out the window.” Romney’s promise to take so-called “right to work” legislation nationwide indicates that she’s right.
The bottom line for Jacobs, what really gets to her, is that Romney ”would put people in charge who would take us backwards in terms of the rights of working people and education philosophy.”
“I grew up pecking away at a typewriter; it’s a part of my history. But would I want to go back to that?” Jacobs asked. “I don’t want to go back technologically, mentally, or socially. Let kids laugh at typewriters when they see them in movies—it’s time to move on. That’s how our country moves forward.”
Join dedicated educators like Lois—become an Educator for Obama today. You could get involved in one of the Ready to Go teams forming all across the country!
Ohio EFOs take a stand with anti-Romney rally
Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney drew more than donors to his fundraiser in Cincinnati yesterday. He also attracted a group of people who want to make their views known through their voices rather than their wallets.
Education for Obama members in Ohio were among those who turned out to make sure candidate Romney is aware that the priorities he has outlined on the campaign trail do not align with the needs of the middle class.
“It’s important to send a message to Romney and [Ohio] Governor Kasich, that we haven’t gone away just because we defeated issue 2,” said high school history teacher Stacy Recker, referring to the bill attacking collective bargaining rights overturned by Ohio citizens last November.
Recker says earlier this year she was undecided about which presidential candidate she would support, but by the end of primary season, she had no question she would do whatever she could to back President Obama’s re-election. “I feel under attack from the ‘Tea-publicans’ and I don’t think they have the best interest of the American youth and their education at heart by cutting public school budgets and worker’s rights.”
Those are key issue for educators. As retired Ohio educator Judy Buschle told the local news covering the protest, “You can’t keep cutting education [budgets] in Ohio and expect us to continue to raise our scores.”
Educators for Obama helps educators plug into the political process. Through phone banks, community conversations and public demonstrations organized educators can take a stand for public education.
Make that collective voice louder by signing up for Educators for Obama. If you have already signed up, be on the lookout for calls to action like this one—especially if you live in one of the stops along Romney’s Every Town Counts tour. –Dakotah Thompson
Making the call for students and families
For Summer Hill, a kindergarten teacher in York, Pennsylvania, becoming an Educator for Obama was a “no-brainer.” Because so many decisions of state and federal governments affect what happens in the schoolhouse, Hill says becoming a teacher and becoming an activist go hand in hand.
She has already taken part in several Educator for Obama phone banks, and says it’s a quick, easy and effective way to get involved.
“I have had really positive results with the people I’ve talked to,” says Hill. “They aren’t always willing to sign up to be an Educator for Obama, but they often say, ‘I’m going to vote for him, I’m behind you, I recognize that President Obama is what’s best for public education.’”
Hill reports that the process is easy. After logging on to My EdVotes, she had instant access to a call list and a suggested script.
“And it doesn’t have to take a lot of time. The first time I phone banked I said, I’m going to make 20 calls. It took about 40 minutes. The second time I said I’m going to make 30 calls, and it was less than an hour of my life, and it does make a difference,” she says. “Whether or not they sign up to be an Educator for Obama, you’ve encouraged them and reminded them about the importance of voting, at the least.”
In last week’s phone bank, participants were asked to contact fellow EFOs and ask them to submit a letter to the editor to their local paper using NEA’s easy-to-use, online letter writing tool. More than half of those asked agreed to submit a letter, which is a great return on the investment of the callers’ time.
With the highest possible stakes in the upcoming presidential election, Hill encourages all educators to take action through Educators for Obama now.
Through the end of the month, EFO will host 50 state phone banks set up for members to call and recruit other Educators for Obama. Members can contact their state affiliate for more information—or just go to My EdVotes and start calling.
NEA activists’ hard work recognized at reception with Vice President Biden
Four Educators for Obama were recognized for their dedication to protecting public education from devastating budget cuts, bad policies, and the whim of governors funded by out-of-state corporate interests at a reception hosted by Vice President Joe Biden at his Washington, D.C., residence on May 23. Each has a unique story about why they pledged to be an Educator for Obama.
Tiffanie Lawson, a kindergarten teacher from Milwaukee, was one of thousands who protested in Madison last year and helped force the recall election of Gov. Scott Walker, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and four state senators. Now she’s focusing on union-led efforts to encourage voters to head to the polls on June 5, and participating in phone banks for Educators for Obama.
Elementary teacher Summer Hill said her home state of Pennsylvania is “like Wisconsin in slow motion,” with both governors slashing education budgets and going after collective bargaining rights. The fact that so many children and families depend on what public schools provide inspires her to be active in her local and in Educators for Obama.
Education support professional David Foust, a bus driver for Virginia’s Fairfax County Schools and a longtime defender of workers’ rights said, “It takes an entire system to support a good education for the kids, and you can’t have a good school system without the dedication of cafeteria workers, custodians, bus drivers—all of us.”
“It’s sometimes discouraging for those of us who feel like we have fought all of these fights and have to go back and fight them again,” said Marjorie Clark, who taught for decades before retiring in 2002, “whether it’s women’s rights, or education, or voting rights.” Clark pledged to be an Educator for Obama after seeing a slew of anti-public education bills introduced in her home state of Virginia. “If we have to fight again, we will,” she said.
When the four Educators for Obama met in Washington, D.C., just prior to the reception, they found they shared a deep commitment to supporting President Obama’s policies related to protecting public schools and collective bargaining rights and restoring fairness to the middle class. Faust distilled the sentiment in the room when he said, “Everyone should have a fair shot at being part of the middle class, and living the American Dream. That’s what all of this is really about.”