Campaign 2012: Educators give voice to student concerns
by Brian Washington
Stephanie Towles has always viewed herself as an advocate for children. However, Towles, who currently works as a librarian/media specialist at the Sixteenth Haak Elementary School in Reading, Pennsylvania, is taking her skills to a bigger stage by becoming an education spokesperson for the 2012 election.
“There is no way to talk about the future without talking about public education,” said Towles. “There’s no way to talk about our future economy or security without addressing the issue of how we prepare our biggest resource — our children.
“And the focus has to be on every child. It needs to be public education. When we “cherry pick” which students are going to get the best educational opportunities, we are creating a system we can’t sustain, and it’s a recipe for failure.”
Towles was among about 50 educators from 12 states — most of them political battleground states — who traveled to Washington, D.C., yesterday to learn how to speak to other educators and the general public about the issues that impact students and our public schools in this year’s elections.
“Politics — it’s constantly coming into our classrooms,” said Saletta Urena, a Spanish teacher at Ben L. Smith High School in Guilford County, North Carolina. “As educators we always want to be at the table to make sure that our inputs and the things we know help our students learn best are taken into account when candidates are talking about public education.”
After completing the training, these educators will take back home what they’ve learned to elevate the voice of public educators in the national campaign debate. They may talk to reporters about the campaign and public education, appear at campaign events, address other educators and the general public at community events, and write letters to their local newspaper editors.
“I think the training gave us the confidence to communicate in a way that resonates with the public about the issues that matter to them concerning the future of their children,” said Towles.
The group of educators is primed and ready to bring the voice of teachers and education support professionals to the forefront this election cycle.
“I would like for the candidates to focus on the needs of the 21st century classroom and how we meet those needs in preparing students for the future,” said Urena. “I also want the candidates to pay special attention to the needs of our most vulnerable students.”
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