Renewing our core values
The Cleveland Heights Teachers Union was established 75 years ago. I am only the fourth president of our union since 1970. Our primary role is to represent 505 teachers, counselors, social workers, nurses, ancillaries, security monitors, and other staff; but, we are also a presence in the CH-UH community, participating in community events, fundraisers, school functions and political events. Since the beginning, our vision and core values have remained the same: We are professionals whose focus is always on the students we teach.
Our vision statement says “Cleveland Heights Teachers Union will create, enhance, and sustain optimal teaching and learning conditions through collaboration, political action, community engagement.” This means that we become involved in political races and issues that are important to public education. We support candidates who share our core values through voluntary contributions from our members and through political action.
Our students are suffering every year due to the financial losses caused by private school vouchers. In addition, our district receives less in state aid than its private school counterparts. Our community has always had choices available to it when it comes to educating its children. However, we strongly oppose the use of public dollars to support private and religious schools.
Our policymakers must find a funding solution for all the students who live in our community. It is important to us that candidates who support fair funding for public schools are elected. We actively urge our members to support these candidates through their contributions and their votes.
We are not just political, however. We want to ensure that the students we teach receive a quality public education. We do this through continuing education, collaboration, and a high-quality learning environment. Our union has provided courses through our Educational Research and Dissemination Program. It is union-sponsored, research-based professional development, designed to help our members receive high-quality professional development from our own trained teachers. Through this program, our teachers not only earn credit toward license renewal but also receive strategies for their classrooms. We believe that we all need to continue to grow and learn best practices.
Through our core values, we recognize and advocate for public education, we demand respect for teaching professionals and support staff; and, most importantly, we value every child. Each student is unique, and many have special challenges. For some children, their schools and their teachers are the only stable part of their lives—a responsibility that our members take very seriously. Our students have always been the reason we continue to adjust our teaching regardless of the ever-changing trends in education.
We became virtual teachers overnight; we adjusted to new programs with little guidance. Some of our teachers were asked to return to in-person teaching with just one week’s notice. All of our teachers will most likely be back to in-person learning with their students soon, and they will be asked to adjust again.
Teachers always adjust to make things work best for their students. What we do best is being there for whatever a student needs on any particular day. We did not choose our profession for money or recognition, but rather for our desire to make a difference in the lives of the children in our charge.
Karen Rego has taught grades K–8 in the CH-UH district and currently provides math and language support at Monticello Middle School. She s president of the Cleveland Heights Teachers Union.