After I graduated from college, I started working as a public school teacher in New York. I’ll never forget my first day walking into the classroom — I was full of joy and excitement as I welcomed my sixth graders to their first day of school, ready to inspire them to become critical thinkers and active participants in our democracy.
But my colleagues and I weren’t alone; we were joined together in our union. As I talked to my colleagues, I realized none of us thought the “teach-to-the-test” model was in the best interest of our students. And it wasn’t just our school — we were united with public school teachers across the city and the country who felt the same. Slowly, the tide shifted — and No Child Left Behind wasn’t the driving force behind all the decisions. At a time of great uncertainty, we stood up for ourselves in our unions — protecting our ability to teach critical thinking in the classroom and fair pay for professional work that isn’t tied to a monolithic metric like student test scores. In the face of daunting obstacles, we were stronger together.