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Commentary: A plea to the CEA

Dear fellow CEA Delegates to the CEA General Assembly,

We are at a critical moment with our teacher’s association. It is a defining moment. Public education is changing and with it, the nature of teaching.

Does the current direction of teacher associations help or hurt this transformation? Are teacher associations changing fast enough to keep pace with a changing reality? Are we a blue-collar union only concerned with the affect of its members or are we an association equally concerned with the effect of its members?

Leadership matters. Union leaders are torn between the traditional role of spending more time on members’ needs versus pushing the union in a new direction. Every elected official has to deal with politics. The same is true for union leaders. But at this critical juncture in the discussion about the future of public education, it is time to look for a leader who has a vision.

Who is a visionary leader versus a political leader? I am asking all of my fellow association members to take this into account next week as we decide at the CEA delegate assembly who will lead us next. I would like delegates to ask themselves which candidate for CEA president is thinking outside the box; who is taking risks? Which candidate is political and which one is principled? Who views their professional association more as a guild than a blue-collar union?

Who strongly supports collective bargaining while at the same time promotes accountability?

Who is visionary versus reactionary? Let’s send a message to the public by electing a new president; let’s prove that we are serious about our profession. They already know we care about their children.

Note: The CEA delegate assembly is April 26-28.

About our First Person series:

First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others trying to improve public education. Read our submission guidelines here.