We are educators. Let us lead.

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As the President of Guilford County Association of Educators, I am extremely proud of the work put in by public school employees across the county to assess and endorse candidates for the elections taking place this fall. We have made historic efforts to let our elected officials know the deep needs of students and staff, and the rigorous process in which candidates were invited to participate represents how seriously we take our responsibility for advocacy and civic engagement.

We have spoken at meetings. We have written letters. Last May, we went to Raleigh in the largest pro-public education demonstration in NC history. Our endorsements reflect our excitement in having candidates with a deep understanding of and dedication to public education, some of whom are career public school educators.

Candidates were interviewed by our volunteer Government Relations Committee, a diverse group of experienced public school educators. Some of the choices were tough, but so are our jobs.

As teachers, we know all about election year raises and last minute bond packages. Is it any surprise we’re asking these elected officials to show their work over time?

We know that many if not most public school employees are working second jobs to make ends meet.

We know that health care costs are rising, gobbling up any pretense of a raise.

We know teachers buy hundreds of dollars of classroom supplies every year with their own money.

We know families are asked to provide basic necessities such as cleaning supplies, art supplies, and materials so that classrooms can function.

We know most of our bus drivers, custodians, and cafeteria workers qualify for public assistance. We know that a good number of our teachers and teacher’s assistants do too.

We know 81 buildings in Guilford County have had significant problems with air conditioning this school year. We know the average age of school buildings in Guilford County is over fifty years.

Unfortunately, some candidates did not have a plan to address these issues. Some even went so far as to insist that the schools are adequately funded, essentially denying the last decade of our lived experience.

It’s hard to explain to teachers that they have adequate funding when they haven’t had working air conditioning in a North Carolina summer.

Other candidates made themselves ineligible to receive our endorsement by choosing not to participate in our process. What does it say about candidates who ignore teachers?

Guilford County is fortunate that such candidates are in the minority. Ultimately, the Guilford County Association of Educators is proud to endorse the following candidates based on their outstanding qualifications, their willingness to engage wholeheartedly in sharing their vision, and their deep commitment to accessible, relevant, resourced, high-quality public education.

Tracy Lamothe for Guilford County Commissioner and Michael Garrett for NC Senate were important to us as candidates that are deeply committed to full funding for public education.

Desirée Best, running for the Board of Education in District 4, is a fellow educator with over 31 years in the classroom. We are thrilled at the prospect of having someone who understands the job we do everyday help shape district policy and practice.

District 2 candidate Greg Drumwright is a former teacher, and District 6 candidate Khem Irby works for the district. We want educators to represent us.

Winston McGregor, running for the Board of Education At-Large seat, is an honorary educator in our book. Her work with the Guilford Education Alliance is invaluable experience. Very few people in this county, in or out of the school system, understand the intricacies and nuances of a district this size the way Winston does.

Ashton Clemmons, running for NC House District 57, has taught and lead on all levels, from classroom teacher to principal, all the way to associate superintendent. We’ve had enough heartache coming out of Raleigh; we want people like Ashton, who know our job, in the state’s capital to fight for us.

We are educators. You trust us with your children, a responsibility we do not take lightly. We are educators. Let us lead.

Todd Warren is a licensed K-12 Spanish Teacher currently serving as the president of the Guilford County Association of Educators.

A complete list of candidate endorsements by the Guilford County Association of Educators is available here: https://gcae4me.org/2018/10/02/2018-candidate-endorsements/.

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