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Supporting each other to strengthen our schools and profession

New York Teacher

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Michael Mulgrew Headshot 07-19
Calling this a challenging school year would be an understatement. Every educator I speak to is exhausted and more than ready for a well-earned summer break.

Teaching is a difficult job at the best of times — it leaves us physically and emotionally depleted come June. And with our profession and public schools under constant siege, the job has become that much tougher.

So as this school year draws to a close, it’s important to take a step back and reflect on what really matters: You have worked hard, you have been devoted to your students, and you are making a difference in their lives.

None of us do our work in isolation. We are members of a school faculty, of a school community, of a union. These affiliations make us stronger.

As one of the teacher leaders at this year’s UFT Spring Education Conference so aptly put it: When teachers support each other and play to one another’s strengths, together they make that golden teacher. Make sure you take a few moments to think back on all of the support and guidance you received from colleagues over the last 10 months — and thank them.

We are fortunate today to have a friend in the mayor and the schools chancellor. Their belief in collaboration and partnership, in tapping into the expertise that exists in our own school buildings, has helped us move forward. It’s a relief after 20 years of mayors antagonistic toward teachers and public education.

But just as we are making a long-overdue course correction in New York City, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the hedge-fund managers who bankrolled his re-election campaign have taken the baton from Bloomberg and are continuing to rail against public education as long as there are profits to be made and political axes to grind.

So none of the advances we are beginning to make this school year has come easily. They were the product of our hard work and our struggles, in the classroom and in the streets, to fend off the attacks against the students, families and communities we serve.

We are sure to confront new assaults on public schools and our profession in the coming school year. We must counter the misinformation that is being broadcast by making sure that every New Yorker knows the great work that New York City public school educators are doing despite the challenges.

That’s why, even as we continue to battle the governor and his allies at the state level and problematic principals at individual schools, we must always make sure to celebrate the strides we have made to improve New York City’s schools.

We have one of the most important, most rewarding, but also most demanding jobs in the world, and we should be proud of all that we do to protect, nurture and educate our city’s children. Our schools are brimming with the passion that you bring to them and with the love of learning that you spark in your students, and for that I cannot thank you enough.

Now we must make sure the rest of our city sees that passion ­— and the results that it is yielding.

I wish you all a restful and enjoyable summer break.

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