By: Leigh Hawkinson, AEA President

As this issue of The Podium comes to you, we are pleased the tentative salary agreement was finally reached with the District. It has been a long-fought battle and while we don’t see it as a “great” settlement, we believe it is a fair one for the current financial state of the District.  I am proud of our Bargaining Team and our Association. I believe we have established a good path for future negotiations and a more cooperative environment.

I also will have completed all of my site visits by the time you are reading this issue. It has been great to get out to the sites again, and I hope to plan several more visits this year.  One thing that became very clear on my visits was the desire by all of you to get past the turmoil and to just have the focus back on the students and your hard work. I had several interesting conversations regarding our District and the state-of-affairs. One such discussion centered around the concern that the public would think less of us because we were fighting for higher wages. I was a bit taken aback by the view that a teacher felt “guilty” about earning a professional wage and that in some way they would have to “explain their salary to a parent making so much less.” I responded by saying that we do not have to apologize for the salaries we make and that in almost every state in the country, the parents were the first to support the teachers in their fight for a professional salary. With the education and experience we have, the lives we shape every day and our      responsibilities, our salaries don’t begin to compensate us fully.

We all know why we went into education and what we endure in order to remain in the profession. At the very least, we should have a salary that rewards us for the meaningful and impactful work we do everyday. It does not make it less meaningful nor significant.

I look forward to seeing all of you again on my visits.