My name is Michael Kerstetter and I am the Secretary Treasurer of the KEA. Last summer I had the opportunity to go to Washington, DC, for the Save Our Schools march. I went because I could and
because I felt it was the right thing to do. This first thing I noticed was that there were probably less than 5000 people (my estimate) in attendance. I’m relatively certain that you could find 5000 teachers within a short radius of Washington, DC; yet, the most well represented group was the Wisconsin Education Association. Others were well represented; Boston had a large group, Texas had a bunch, and several other cities and states had relatively large numbers. As a representative group for teachers however, it was not a large gathering although it was still exciting and invigorating to march on the White House. Matt Damon is a rock star, BTW. Here is a link to his speech from SOS, as well as links to the speeches made by Diane Ravitch and John Kuhn, a superintendent from Perrin, TX and a very dynamic speaker.
Wisconsin was there for obvious reasons. They understand what it means to have their rights taken away, having just been through that, and they were ready and willing to stand with teachers from other states to ensure that this would not happen to them; to in fact, save our schools. Others, apparently not so much, although I am very aware of the stresses and time constraints placed upon teachers. I am one. I understand.
On a personal note, I know that it is difficult to organize teachers to action, even small actions, because that is a good part of what I do. I can always count on thirty to fifty people who are willing to step out of their comfort zones and do something for the benefit of the Association and I truly, sincerely thank and appreciate those people for what they do. This is, however, an Association of about 1,700 members and generating interest in advocacy is sometimes agonizingly difficult. Again, I understand why.
That brings me to my main point: There is a level of activism that is necessary these days. Teachers have to advocate for their own jobs and for their rights. As we should have learned from Wisconsin,
it’s relatively easy to take rights away from people, and we should have learned from our own state that working conditions can be changed or eliminated by the vote of people who rarely, if ever, set foot in a classroom. We have an election coming. It is incumbent upon all of us that we do whatever we can to make certain that Washington does not become the next Wisconsin. I don’t want to be an
alarmist, but we are one election away from that scenario. Good people with good intentions allowed it to happen there and good people with good intentions need to stop it from happening here. Be a part of the solution.
KEA Secretary Treasurer