Dictionary.com offers the following definitions:

“to present voluntarily and without expecting compensation; bestow; to hand to someone; to place in someone’s care.”

So many of our local associations raise funds and contribute their time to give to charities, to families who are struggling, and to provide scholarships for students. You are seeing just a few of these highlighted in this issue. Our state association gives, too. The members of the MEA Board of Directors made donations to Special Olympics at our December meeting. MEA staff is providing holiday gifts to families in need and engaging in other activities as part of our “Season of Giving”. Many members and staff participate in and give generously to a number of causes and non-profit organizations throughout the year.

These things are done “without expecting compensation,” as the above definition states.

But let’s not forget that educators, as part of their work every day, also give so much to our students, our communities, our society. In the various roles that educators have to support our students —both in and out of the classroom—as they learn and grow and become engaged citizens, we give our time, our expertise, our knowledge, our dedication, our caring. We give above and beyond basic job expectations. It is the nature of our professions to give; the desire to give to others is what draws so many of us to education.

Of course, we do receive compensation for our jobs. But for much too long, as we have known, and, as has been shown in various polls, the public also believes, educators have been underpaid and undervalued, especially when one considers the vital role public education has. It is time that educators, at all levels, in all roles, receive professional salaries and wages that clearly demonstrate the value of the work they do and that show the respect that they deserve.

We have many friends of education about to serve in the 129th Legislature. We have a new administration ready to take office. We need to keep in close communication with these policy- and decision-makers. We need to show them what resources all of our students and schools, no matter their location, must have, and what compensation our educators deserve if we are to retain those now serving, recruit the educators we will need, and reward all equitably, including our retirees who even now keep giving. We have the potential to make great progress on this, but if this is to come to fruition, it will require that all of us give even a little more time and effort to make our voices heard, to talk with our representatives, and to be visible and speak up about the great work we do.

Every day we give so much of ourselves on behalf of our students. It is time our public schools and our students be given the resources they deserve, and that educators be given the compensation that is long overdue.

We don’t give up on students, and we won’t give up on working to meet the goal of moving our professions and our association forward.

I know we will all keep giving our best to educate students in our state. But I also hope that you all give yourselves time to relax and re-energize over the coming holiday season. You have more than earned it!