Monday, July 13, 2009

2009 RA Sights & Sounds--Anthony Mullen, Teacher of the Year

"America's teachers and education support professionals live in very challenging and stressful times. Incredibly, many of the nation's economic problems are now directed at unions. We have become easy targets for some misguided government officials, economists, and media talking heads who believe it is time for us to give back and to share the pain. Well, teachers and education support professionals have burdened the pain of being underpaid and overworked for too long.

And since we have been given very little, we have nothing to give back. Teachers did not leave their classrooms and abandon children when the best deal in town was to work in the financial services sector. We did not join the legions of people that became wealthy by sitting in front of a computer and selling stocks and managing hedge funds. We did not envy friends and neighbors who prospered during the 1980s and 1990s and bought McMansions and took trips to Bali. No, we stayed with our students because we believe that education and our nation's children are too valuable to be abandoned for a new sports car. So we accepted our meager raises. We worked harder to narrow the achievement gap and did more with less to help our nation prosper. And now, some of the very same people who once asked me how I could live on a teacher's salary, are now asking me what I can do to help the economy. What my union is going to do to help the economy.

And I tell these people two things: One, teachers did not crash the economy. Greed and corruption by people entrusted with our country's financial health collapsed the economy.

And two, unions are helping to recover the economy by protecting the rights of their members. Unions are making sure that what has made our country great, the middle class, will not be sacrificed for the decadence of Wall Street."--Anthony Mullen, 2009 National Teacher of the Year

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