March 1, 2024

Tessa Maglio: Students and educators need us now more than ever.

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Tessa Maglio with the Wisconsin Public Education Network writes about how to mark Public Schools Week.

For seven years, I taught English at a public high school in Wisconsin, and when I think about Public Schools Week and its purpose of celebrating the amazing work of our public schools, countless moments from my teaching career come to mind: a 12th grader who had never participated in theater getting the lead in the musical because they were encouraged by supportive teachers to pursue a role that resonated with them; students showing each other compassion and maintaining humor and joy through the challenges of the pandemic; teachers working in solidarity to advocate for policy changes that would more equitably serve our students.

It throws into sharper relief, however, that this is the second year that I will celebrate Public Schools Week out of the classroom. Like many educators across the state, I eventually found the profession that I worked hard for and loved was simply no longer tenable.

It is in light of this that Public Schools Week is all the more important, not only in its purpose of celebration and amplification of the wonderful things happening in our public schools across the state, but in its call to advocacy – our schools, our educators, and our students need our support now more than ever. It is our responsibility as public school champions to step in when they are under attack.

When we hear lawmakers pit urban, suburban, and rural schools against each other, we must remind them that every child, regardless of where they go to school, deserves the resources they need to thrive.

When we hear detractors make assumptions and spread misinformation about what happens in the classroom, we must remind them that educators deserve our respect as professionals and the resources to do their job well.

When we hear special interest groups disparage educators and the unions that give them well-deserved collective voice, we must remind them that teachers’ working conditions are students’ learning conditions – what benefits one benefits both.

I have been a public school student and a public school teacher, but it is the prospect of soon becoming a public school parent that strengthens my resolve to make sure our schools and our educators have what they need to serve our children.

Read the full op-ed here. 

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