I sense it all around me, educators feeling unvalued and unsupported. I see them and I hear them as I continue to advocate for our profession and our personal well-being. We are mostly suffering in silence, or in our safe spaces with trusted colleagues. To those who don’t work in education, it may appear everything is fine. We show up every day for the kids and we do our best to shield them from the negative impacts we’re all feeling. But, how can we expect the kind of change that will strengthen us all if we don’t give voice to the challenges we face?

This is a challenging time. The difficulties we’ve faced for years as public education professionals have moved into the realm of unsustainable and unmanageable. The emotional toll that results from reduced student engagement, increased student behaviors, unrealistic expectations, constant changes, efforts to cast public education and educators in a negative light, staff shortages, high pressure and high turnover leave us feeling exhausted. At the same time, student needs continue to rise while additional protocols and directives seem to crop up daily. Debates around curriculum, safety, funding and all of the things that impact teaching and learning ultimately land in the classroom as we professionals are forced to spend more time and energy shielding students from it all.

Private industry often responds to increasing demands for production through increased compensation.

Unlike the private sector, our employers are unable to respond to increased workload and fatigue with financial incentives. In Emporia, when factoring in inflation and insurance increases our educator pay has actually been cut. This economic challenge has only exacerbated the situation leaving teachers feeling unappreciated and unsupported.

However, we currently have an opportunity for hope and change. School boards play an important role in public education but especially now. Our organization has a past practice of surveying all board candidates. Our goal is to gather information and share it with educators so they can make informed decisions as citizens and voters, but also as stakeholders. With the current state of low morale, educators were hopeful our board candidates would hear us and be aware of our issues. The responses to our survey were even more important this year than in past years. Sadly, it was disappointing after multiple attempts of seeking responses from all candidates, that only two candidates chose to complete our survey while four remained silent. What does their silence mean? What does this mean for how they will respond in the future? Will they remain silent to the needs of educators, staff and students of the district? These answers are now unknown, leaving educators feeling even more uncertain and fearful of being further unsupported.

Being a community that has consistently shown value for our educators and schools, I hope you will consider voting for candidates who have shown us we are valued by their engagement in our survey process. Thank you Jami Reever and Lillian Lingenfelter for the time, energy and commitment to educators.

Please visit ENEA Facebook page to view the full ENEA survey responses.

Erica Huggard

Emporia NEA President

(5) comments

Comment deleted.

I think Trump supporters said it best... "If you don't like it here, leave!"

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