by Sonja Witkowski
high school teacher
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I teach high school Chemistry in Manchester, New Hampshire, a city that has a tough time funding its public schools. I can’t tell you how many times I have had to use my own money to make sure students had pens, paper, pencils and other basic classroom needs. I do it because I care about my kids.
A significant number of my students qualify for free-and-reduced price lunch and come from families that are struggling. But what many of these families lack in resources, the parents make up in a desire to see their children do better and go farther than they did. I share that desire. I want to see my students get the tools and resources they need to excel and thrive in the classroom. I want them to receive all the opportunities that a quality public education can provide. This is why I am standing with my union, the National Education Association, which, on Saturday, recommended Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for President.
Living in New Hampshire, an early primary state, I’ve had the opportunity to hear Secretary Clinton talk candidly and openly about her commitment to students and public education. She supports universal pre-K, finding ways to help families shoulder the burden of early child care costs, and doubling the funding for Head Start. She knows this is how children get off to a good start when it comes to learning.
Clinton has a proven track record on the issues important to students and public education. As the First Lady of Arkansas, the First Lady of the United States, and a U.S. Senator, she has fought to close opportunity gaps for America’s schoolchildren and for more education funding for distressed cities and students with special needs.
Clinton is not just an advocate for students but for educators as well. She knows that teachers and education support professionals are the experts and need a collective voice not only to maintain a fair workplace but also to stand up for what’s best for students. In fact, she agrees with us that students need more authentic assessments and that the role of standardized tests in public education should be reduced–giving teachers more time to teach and students more time to learn.
I recently read an Education Votes article by an Iowa educator who said it was his duty to spread the word about those candidates promoting views and policies that would be bad for students and our public schools. I totally agree.
But as educators committed to our students’ success, we have to do more. We have to work to make sure pro-public education candidates get elected. That’s why I am going to do everything within my power–whether it’s door knocking, participating in a phone bank, or speaking at professional or community gatherings–to make sure Clinton wins the Democratic nomination, and ultimately, the White House. I agree wholeheartedly with my union and its reasons for backing Clinton–Hillary Clinton is the strong leader we need to do what’s best for all of America’s students and public schools.