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Message from the Chair

Your Voice, Your Future

Ready to Lead


As chair of the NEA Student Program, I work with future educators and young teachers nationwide. Along the way, I’ve learned this: Although classroom management, pedagogy, and content knowledge are always at the forefront of who we are and what we do, most of us enter teaching to become that one astounding teacher who makes a lasting difference in the life of every student.

I have no doubt that we will do that—and more. But we face unprecedented challenges.

 Somewhere between volunteering to supervise yet another extracurricular activity and staying up until 2 a.m. writing lesson plans, public school educators—those who are most qualified to speak about the art and science of teaching—have been silenced.

Perhaps the silencing began when corporate reformers noticed the mountain of education tax dollars that were seemingly up for grabs. Maybe the silencing came when billionaires recognized they could reap big profits by privatizing public services. Or maybe educators’ voices stopped being heard when these same corporate players set out to convince parents and communities that they have children’s best interests in mind—not us “greedy” teachers.

Through it all, teachers remain committed to helping students do their best. Meanwhile, corporate reformers have hijacked the conversation about public education and our profession.

But these challenges present us with an opportunity to reclaim the discussion about public educators and to understand that serving as advocates for our students, and activists for our profession, is just as important as teaching. Being a great teacher means exerting influence inside and outside of our classrooms.
We must become more than the next generation of educators. We must also acknowledge our responsibility as public education’s next generation of leaders.

Whether you are completing your first year of college, or planning to graduate and head into the world of work, stay informed about the issues that affect our public schools. Speak up for your peers and your profession. And become an active participant in your Association! When it comes to professional development, community outreach, and advocating for our public schools and the teachers and students who are in them, there is no better resource than NEA.

To get involved in the NEA Student Program, or to tell us how we can help your state or local chapter, reach me at or via twitter @Tjaden2012.

When we work together, the sky is truly the limit!

--David Tjaden
Twitter: @NEAStudents

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