You are our power and our voice: Editorial by UEA Vice President Renee Pinkney
Renee Pinkney

UEA Vice President Renee Pinkney

As amazing as this sounds, we’ve made it to 2022! Thank you for waking up every morning and putting one foot in front of the other to meet the needs of your students, your families, and yourself. As a full-time teacher serving as your UEA vice president, I understand what it means to teach in the age of COVID. Looking to the future, I’m hoping that our experience has taught us the value of being resilient.

When I looked up the definition of resilient using Google, this is what I found: “able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions.” We did this in March of 2020. We turned teaching around on a dime. We taught using several modalities including meeting students in-person, online, and one-on-one. Out of necessity we mastered technological skills we never dreamed of. Last year we persevered and this year we are demonstrating our professionalism each and every day. As professionals we know what it will take to improve our student learning conditions and our teaching conditions as we continue to live through a pandemic.

Imagine what a difference it would make to have a class size of 18, with a paraprofessional all day, five days a week, to meet the varied needs of our students…to create a team dedicated to student success so that our kids can reach their highest potential.

Imagine having enough substitute teachers so you don’t feel guilty about calling in sick or taking paid time off and actually having your preparation periods to prepare highly engaging and effective lessons, instead of covering classes.

Imagine every student having a highly qualified teacher in a well-resourced classroom free from discrimination, bullying and harassment on day one. I believe this is possible but it is going to take all of u

s working together to tell our stories.

We must increase the educator pipeline so we can meet the challenges we and our students are facing. We are experiencing a labor shortage that is stretching our resources and our capacity to provide a world-class education for ALL of our students.

All of us need to tell our stories and educate all stakeholders about our needs…and not just our needs in the classroom but the need to improve the educator pipeline by offering competitive compensation packages that elevate education as a viable career pathway.

We are nothing without our members. You and I are UEA. You are our power and our voice. We need you to communicate to our representatives and policymakers at all levels of government, from our local school boards, to the state school board, to your county and/or city councils, and to our state legislators. They need to hear from all of us. As a collective voice we can make a positive impact. The legislative process may not provide a quick recovery but if we continue to put one foot in front of the other each and every day we will make progress.
In solidarity, go, fight, win!