The last two years have seemed and felt like ten. Prior to 2020, we were facing problems like chronic underfunding, the beginnings of a great educator exodus, attacks from those wishing to dismantle public education, and attacks from those wishing to destroy unions not only in our state but across the country.
I guess none of that was enough because in March 2020, the universe decided we needed a global pandemic. And then in 2021, the universe gave us relentless attacks on our profession, a concerted effort to roll back all of the racial and social justice rights that have been achieved over the last 50 years and extremist school board candidates pushing these attacks. But through it all, we’ve shown the world that when we join together, we are unstoppable.
Whenever I finish a 16-hour day and then have to be a mom and a wife, when I lay my head down at night, I’m comforted by the fact that I have the privilege of working side by side with teachers, paraprofessionals, counselors, bus drivers, food service workers and many others across the state. This gives me hope — that we are on the right path to making public education as great as it can be because our students are counting on us.
We don’t have the vast resources that our opposition has but we have the momentum in public opinion and we have the people power of over 39,000 members across Colorado. We have the subject matter experts and we have the people who are committed to their professions. We have the trust and confidence of parents. We have the love and support of our students. All of which, our opposition does not have. But we need to harness our collective power because our opposition is raising money and firing up their base like never before.
We must remember that we’re in this for the long haul. And election season is approaching fast. The 2021 elections were a reminder that elections matter and bad elections can give us bad school boards. We need to come together to make sure we elect pro-public education candidates who care about our public schools and whose words match actions.
In a world where obstacles are continually put in front of us, we must rise to the challenge of advocating for the public schools our students, their families and our fellow educators deserve. When we advocate together, we know that we will be successful. The power of our union is the power of us.
I wish you rest and rejuvenation over the summer and I look forward to coming back together in the fall, fired up and ready to go for our students, our professions, and public education.
Amie Baca-Oehlert is a high school counselor and president of the CEA.