by Felix Perez, photo above courtesy of the Senate HELP committee
To those who knew her as a young woman, Pamela Geisselhardt would be the last person they would imagine would be invited by a U.S. senator to come to Washington and share her views on how to change the nation’s most comprehensive education law.
“All the years I was in college, I spoke out only one time, and I can remember what it was I said,” says the plain-spoken Geisselhardt, Gifted and Talented coordinator for the Adair County School District in Columbia, KY.
Geisselhardt, an educator for 27 years, was invited to participate in a round-table discussion November 8 on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, commonly known as No Child Left Behind.
Geisselhardt offered her perspective before the members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee at the invitation of her state’s junior senator, Rand Paul, who sits on the committee.
Geisselhardt is not a political junkie. Far from it.
Her first foray into politics was this spring when she and a team of educators from her district met Senator Paul as part of NEA’s first back-home lobby visit campaign staged online. Geisselhardt’s passionate advocacy on behalf of gifted and special needs students and against the overemphasis on testing made an impression on Senator Paul. She walked away impressed by the senator’s listening skills.
The two crossed paths again this summer, when Geisselhardt and the Kentucky Education Association delegation were in Washington, D.C., at NEA’s Republican Leaders Conference. Geisselhardt and the other delegates met with Paul in his office to discuss No Child Left Behind. “I really got a lot” out of the Republican Leaders meeting, recounts Geisselhardt.
Fast forward to mid-October. Geisselhardt was asked by Paul’s staff if she would be interested in participating in the round table.
Despite the ornate location of the discussion and the high-powered elected officials involved, Geisselhardt took it all in stride. “I was just saying what I felt in my heart needed to be said,” she says in her characteristic matter of fact manner.
Click here to read the letter that NEA sent to the Senate Education Committee expressing the views of educators on the ESEA reauthorization passed by the committee.
Join Pamela Geisselhardt and make your voice heard! Speak up for students who are suffering under too much testing and not enough individual attention. Speak up for schools that are doing their best every day to meet the needs of students who come to school hungry, have no books at home, and have no safe place to study after school. Act today! Tell Congress to craft an ESEA reauthorization bill that works for students, educators, and schools.