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From the Chair

Ready? Set. Make Change!


A spiring educators inherit the inspiring responsibility of molding young minds, sharing our love, and impacting tomorrow’s teachers, doctors, parents, lawyers, politicians, and neighbors. We are entrusted with the gift of helping to shape the future of our country.

“You’re just going to be a teacher,” and “I wish I could color with kids every day” are narratives we hear too often—on and off campus. If you hear these words, don’t allow the conversation to end there. We are educators; let’s educate naysayers about our mission!

Remind them that aspiring educators impact the future of our world. We influence every student who walks through our classroom doors. Despite low pay, high student debt, long hours, and attacks on public education, we love every student and hold them to high standards—regardless of their background, ZIP code, parents’ income, or a test score.

We are so fortunate to do this work.

As future educators, we have the incredible opportunity to grow as professionals and educational leaders in the NEA Student Program. While we learn best practices from our teacher prep programs and student-teaching experiences, NEA can help provide us with leadership opportunities.

Our Association provides us with access to trainings and workshops that can help us become highly qualified educators, stronger community activists and leaders, and passionate political advocates for the education our students deserve. Plus, we belong to a 3 million-member network united behind the goal of providing a high-quality education for every student.

Why should we care about these things during a time when we juggle an already-packed schedule? You need to care because critical issues impact you and our students in a very real way now, and as we enter our teaching career.

The new White House administration, a conservative-controlled U.S. House and Senate, and a changed Supreme Court are sure to amplify attacks on public education. These attacks will impact the civil rights of the students we’re preparing to teach. Education funding and student debt relief will be in jeopardy. And collective bargaining (the process through which our pay, working conditions, and benefits are negotiated) is likely to become more difficult. Each of us must be willing to advocate for our students and our profession.

This is a call to stand up for every student—those who come to school hungry, and those who struggle with a reading disability yet have no IEP. Speak out on behalf of those who are eager and gifted, and the students who encounter bullying and discrimination. Each of us must be a voice for every student who has, or will, come into our lives.

We have made the commitment to deliver high-quality instruction inside of our classrooms. Let’s use that same dedication to stand up for our students on issues that impact their lives outside of school.

And let’s make it crystal clear that becoming “just a teacher” is so much more than meets the eye. 

A message from NEA student program chair Ashley Rose Muscarella

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