“Good evening County Executive Pittman, Chairman Smith, and honorable members of the council. I am Nicole Disney-Bates, TAAAC President and it is my privilege to stand before you and speak for our over 6,000 members. When I am invited to speak, I often start with a story and today is no different. I have 4 daughters, my oldest is 10 and my youngest is 4. They are hard-working, capable, children with bright futures that will allow them to do anything that they put their minds to. In that, I am their mom and I encourage them to reach for their dreams.
“I recently asked my daughters what they want to be when they grow up. My oldest told me something with math or science, my six-year-old something with bugs, or animals, and she has a particular interest in Madagascar hissing cockroaches and salamanders, my four-year-old is torn between a princess and a mermaid (I can not wait to see how that turns out) and my 8-year-old, what does she want to be? A teacher of course, just like her mom, just like many of us here today and I see it, I see the qualities that will make her an excellent teacher, she is caring, innovative, patient, and has boundless energy. She has the makings of a great teacher but I have to be honest with you council members, I hesitate to encourage her to become a teacher. This is not because I do not think that teaching is an amazing job, because it is! Teachers get to watch their students’ faces light up when they see you, that ah-ha moment when they learn to read their first book, that moment when you know that you encouraged them to keep going even though they wanted to stop. Teaching is the best job, the best career but still, I hesitate.
“That is why I am standing before you today. I am not only standing here as TAAAC president, I am not only standing here for our over 6,000 members but I stand here for our troubling present and potentially bright future.
“Where we are now is not a sustainable course. We can not, should not, and will not accept 200 vacancies as the norm. We can not, should not, and will not accept our students being taught by an OWL (virtually) because there are not enough physical teachers in the building, we can not should not, and will not accept teachers giving up their plannings day after day after day because there is a sub shortage. This needs to end, this is our present, but it does not have to be our future.
“I want our future to be one where I can encourage my daughter to pursue a career where she only needs to have one job and not 2,3,4 to support herself and one day maybe, a family. I want our future to be one where she can live in a place that best suits her needs. I want her future to be better than our present.
“In that, this is your moment our honorable council members, this is your moment to make our future better than our present. Teaching is a hard job. You work nights and weekends. You answer calls, emails, and texts from families in need of support. You work to pursue and earn your Master’s degree. Teachers are professionals and yet, we are not treated as such. Recently I came across a tik tok where a teacher quits teaching and goes to work at Costco and is less stressed, makes the same amount of money, and gets additional time with her family, what does that tell us? What does that say to us as a county? As a state? As a country? Who are we when we do not treat our teachers with enough respect to pay them enough to show that they are professionals that you respect?
“I would like to remind you that you, Chairman Smith, you are a marine. Council person Feidler, you are a Senior Media Buyer. Council person Volke, you are a lawyer. Council person Hummer you were a teacher. Council person Rodvien, you are an AACPS teacher. Council person Leadbetter, you are a small business owner. Council person Pickard, you were part of Nonprofit management. Today, you are all here, council members, not only because of your drive, your desire to serve, and your willingness to advocate for what you believe in but because of teachers. Teachers got you here. I often think of the shirt that says “if you can read this, thank a teacher.”
“So today, while hopefully, you think back to your past, the teachers that taught you and got you to where you are. Our present where teachers are working harder than ever before, what is our future going to be? Are we going to stay on this course or change? I hope you choose change because our students deserve a certified teacher in every classroom, change because our communities need teachers to stay and become part of the community, and change because in the end, the world, our country, our state and our county need teachers and you have the power to change the future.
“Today, I implore you to fully fund the budget. Think about your past, our present, and the future. After June 1st, I want to be able to tell my 8-year-old, that teaching is not only the best job but your future is bright if you decide to pursue it.