True Teacher Appreciation: Respect for educators’ voice and choice

Teacher Appreciation Week officially kicked off today, May 6 and will run through May 10. It’s an annual weeklong event for us to recognize and support the educators who do our nation’s most important work.

In order to better support teachers, teachers’ voices need to be listened to and their choices need to be respected. Thanks to the Janus case, the freedom to financially support a union or not has been restored to educators and all other public employees after being restrained for over 40 years. Teachers are able to evaluate their union relationship and make a personal decision on whether membership is right for them and their families.

Informed and empowered teachers are better suited to serve the needs of students and deserve the freedom to choose who represents them and how. But even with this newly restored freedom, teachers are still trapped behind an iron curtain of union oppression and are therefore not truly appreciated, says Rebecca Friedrichs, author of Standing Up To Goliath and a former California teacher.

This week is National Teacher Appreciation Week. Unions will give all teacher comrades some small trinket to make us feel special—a “gift” they’ll purchase with our dues money. Don’t fall for it, teachers. We don’t need empty flattery, broken promises, or “representation.” What we need is liberation from union tyranny so we can return to positively impacting the lives of every student we touch.

Through our EducatedTeachersMN project, many teachers have shared with us they are concerned a political maelstrom is overshadowing their professional needs. If we truly want to appreciate our teachers, we must respect their choices. We cannot respect and appreciate educators without trusting them to decide, unencumbered by union restrictions, which organization best represents their interests. The freedom to say “no” to a union is just as important as the freedom to say “yes” to one.

Teachers, you are not alone. Join hundreds of Minnesota educators at EducatedTeachersMN to be a part of a community of educators who understand the challenges and rewards of the teaching profession. May this week and always be a reminder of how appreciated and supported you are.