This letter is in response to Rep. Moffett’s recent words and actions. He suggested that his party is the one that should be trusted to oversee the education of our children to ensure they are successful in the 21st Century. He also stated that the NEA does not have the best interest of our students and educators at its core.
With all due respect, Rep. Moffett, you are incorrect on both counts.
Those who disparage my Union tell me that “we love teachers – we just don’t like it when they band together.” These words sound innocent, but they undermine the provision of a great public education. Individual educators find it difficult to stand up to bad educational policies and unfair working conditions. Together we have always accomplished more. Rep. Moffett needs to know that the reason NEA-NH membership is growing is in large part due to the laws and budgets being passed by politicians like him.
I am part of the largest voluntary democratic organization in the world, and we take pride in what we do and who we are. Together we are the biggest and loudest advocates for our schools, our students, and ourselves, and that scares politicians who seek to defund and dismantle public education.
Being a teacher has changed dramatically. Frequently politicians like Rep. Moffett are using public education as a political weapon rather than seriously attempting to help. Time and again, Rep. Moffett’s party seeks to either defund public education or shift the cost of that education to the local taxpayer.
Public schools exist in every municipality and county in our nation for a reason. Historically, we agreed as a nation that education is important to our children’s future, our economy, and the long-term health of our nation. In turn, we promised to share the cost of ensuring each American would receive a free education through high school. We knew then, as we do now, that the price for failing to provide this education would harm us all. This was the promise we made to the children of every family in our community, the promise of public education.
Not many elected officials identify themselves publicly as opponents of public education. Instead, they say that teachers are doing the best they can, but the system is keeping real achievement from occurring. They point to unions as having a stranglehold on their ability to pass laws or implement policies. And they refer to themselves as “school choice champions,” “school reformers,” or “parent rights advocates.” In truth they are only seeking to break the promise we made to ensure every child receives an education in favor of funding an education for the children they deem worthy.
Rep. Moffett, if you really want to fix our schools, you can fix them. You can fix them very quickly. You can start by listening to the professionals who serve each day in the schools throughout the state as you draft laws that address public education. You can ensure that proper state funding is available for every school district. You can recognize that those attending private schools have made a choice to do so on their own and that taxpayers have no obligation to help pay their tuition bills. In our nation’s history, public services like education were considered so essential to the functioning of society that they could not be left to the whims of the market or the opportunities of profiteers.
You can do everything in your elected power to help support the schools that more than 90% of children attend. You can help keep the promise of public education.
But more and more often, your party seeks the opposite. It has chosen to walk away from public education, to defund it, to try to set limits on what it can teach and accomplish. It ignores the advice of professionals and instead believes a free-market approach works better, as if our children are products on an assembly line.
The overwhelming majority of citizens strongly support public schools. We don’t want them dismantled. We are always looking for ways to help them work better – and for politicians who sincerely want to help us in that effort.
Thanks for your advice, Rep. Moffett, but I don’t think your party is up to the challenge.
Terry Burlingame, Gilmanton Education Association