Back in March of 2015, a gentleman wrote a letter to the Chronicle-Herald where he said that teachers didn’t have the guts to stand up for their students. He said, among many other unflattering things, “Try to recall a time over the last decade when you heard a currently employed teacher openly comment on issues and problems with the curriculum. That would be as rare as an albino moose.”
I got my back up, as I am prone to do, and responded to his letter with one of my own. In it, I introduced myself as an albino moose and then went on to defend teachers, noting all of the amazing things we do for our students every day.
Despite all of the things this person got wrong, he was right one point. At the time, it was rare for a teacher to speak openly about problems in the school system. I used to have fellow teachers tell me that they were afraid to speak out because they thought they might “get in trouble”. At the time, I felt like I was one of only a handful of teachers who was willing to talk publically about the good, the bad and the ugly. Those of us who did often felt like that rare albino moose.
Well, my friends, how times have changed.
The albino moose population has exploded and we are all the better for it.
Teachers across Nova Scotia have found their voice and they are using it loudly and proudly.
We are writing letters and blogs and newspaper articles. We are attending rallies, meeting with our MLAs, and holding focus groups in each other’s homes to talk about the issues. We are wearing pro-union buttons, starring in TV ads, and sharing our stories on Facebook and Twitter. We are talking with the media, giving interviews with reporters on TV, on the radio and in the print media. We are making our views public and we are not backing down. We are telling real stories about what actually goes on in today’s classrooms.
And people are listening.
Our parents are backing us up. The Nova Scotia Parents for Teachers Facebook page has more than 20,000 members.
Our students are backing us up. Many of them walked out of school on December 2nd to demonstrate their solidarity.
Our bravery and our strength in numbers is making us a force to be reckoned with.
I know we still have many unanswered questions, and some of us are afraid of what’s to come. But there’s no turning back now.
We have found our courage and our voice and we will never be silenced again.
I have always had the greatest respect for my fellow teachers, but I have never been prouder to stand shoulder to shoulder with my NSTU colleagues than I am right now.
Stay strong everyone. We’re in this together.
We are NSTUnited.