I was inspired by President Obama’s speech.  As a classroom teacher, I would consider myself a public servant, working long hours and going beyond the call of duty for not much money.  I do it because I love it; it’s what I am passionate about.

However, I am left with a feeling of needing to do more, engaging in an area where few teachers venture: public policy.  Teacher leadership takes many forms from being a role model for your students in the classroom to mentoring beginning teachers to blogging about student learning and teacher issues.  In some part teacher leadership should extend to our public policy and decision making.  Complacency and unproductive complaining yields no results.  We must advocate for our unions to take an active and supporting role in school reform, tearing down the conception that unions are outdated and an obstacle to change.  We must advocate for education issues ourselves: meeting with legislators, voting, campaigning for favored candidates, and running for office.  Make our voices heard, speaking out for our students and their needs.  I often wonder how many legislators were once educators?  How many are lawyers?  There’s an obvious imbalance.

For years I have tired of sitting on the sidelines.  I am weary of lawmakers making ill-informed decisions that impact my day-to-day job, while affecting my students’ learning.  I am tired of an inadequately funded education system.  I am tired of a education system that, as President Obama spoke, “fails to many.”

This will take doing; making a conscious and delibate change towards shaping education policy.  Hestiation creeps in though when I think of the sacrifice this will involve: time away from the classroom, and even less personal time with family and friends.  I am ready though to start taking small steps.  What do I have to lose?

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