Remarks as prepared

Good morning union brothers and sisters of the Unit Five Education Association! And, good morning Unit 5 staff, administration, and members of the Board of Education.

My name is Lindsey Dickinson, and I am President of the Unit Five Education Association.

Throughout this summer, I had the pleasure of representing UFEA. I had many opportunities to connect with IEA members and local presidents from across the state and the country.

Each time I encountered other members and leaders, I was proud to share all of the great things UFEA members are doing for our schools and our students — from SEL work, to rock bands, to kinder camp. 

I am so proud of you.

I am proud of the work you do, the way you do it, and the way you support each other.

I’m proud of UFEA, and proud of the work we have done.

And I am proud to represent you.

As I reflected on these connections and conversations, I realized how much power UFEA has, how much power we have, how much power you have.

UFEA has the power of voice. 

UFEA has the power of influence. 

UFEA has the power of collective action. 

We are a large local — one of the largest locals within IEA — with nearly 1,000 members. And members believe in UFEA, demonstrated by the fact that we have a 98% membership rate. We recognize that we have more power together than any one of us has on our own.

And we use that power for good.

Together, we bargain for fair contracts, fair compensation, better working conditions for ourselves, and better learning conditions for our students. 

We provide and pay for professional development for educators.

We ensure educators have their voices heard, and amplified.

We serve on statewide committees, participate in a variety of ways throughout our communities and state, and partner with the District in decision-making.

We provide scholarships to students to further their education, especially those becoming educators themselves.

We fight injustice and inequality, and we advocate for safe, clean learning environments for students.

We help educators fund projects in their classrooms and throughout our community.

We “fly the UFEA flag”, share our stories, and show the public how important public education is by participating in parades, Red for Ed campaigns, and community events.

We wear UFEA blue on Mondays to show solidarity with each other. And Red on other days to show solidarity with our fellow educators across the country.

We fight for laws and legislation that support public education and educators — like our recent successful effort to repeal that 3% salary cap and return it to 6%.

We listen, we communicate, and we problem solve. We welcome differing opinions and perspectives, and work together toward the best possible outcomes.

We support each other, stand up for each other, and speak out about issues that impact us and our students.

But, not everyone appreciates the power we have.

There are those who attempt to divide us and diminish our power, those who wish to break our union.

We cannot allow those working against us to negatively impact the important work each of us does every day. 

We must remain united.

We will certainly face challenges this coming year, from dealing with difficult budgets at the bargaining table, to politicians making decisions that impact us and our students, to public perception based on the media’s portrayal of public education. We will need to come together to face those challenges. We’ll need to work in harmony, and harness our power to make our good public schools even better for all our students.

I believe in you. I believe in us. I know we can do it.

Because we have power.

And so do you.

13,000 students are preparing to walk through our doors. They’ve been on summer schedules, consuming sugar and caffeine and staying up late for the past several weeks. And for the next 9 months, they’ll be your students — our students.

Between now and May, you will be pouring yourselves into your students and into your schools. You’ll be spending your own money on supplies. You will be searching for the best ways to support your students. You will be the one staying up late — and maybe surviving on caffeine too.

You’ll do it because that’s our profession, and our passion.

We need to take care of ourselves, too.

It’s far too easy as an educator to forget about ourselves. We spend so much time and energy on our schools and our students that self is often forgotten.

That’s why one focus of UFEA and the Resiliency Team this year will be about self-care. We will work on educating ourselves to take care of ourselves and one another. This work is too important to try to do it without support and without taking care of ourselves.

You have power. We have power. And together we can do this. 

Because of the strength and support of UFEA and each other, we have the power to improve our schools, to influence our profession, and to impact the lives of our students.

Toni Morrison reminded us all:

“If you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else.”

We have power. Together. And we will use it for good. To empower each other, and our students.

Let’s get started.

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