Can You Make a Difference? Yes, You Can!

In this world of grey cynicism and pale apathy, it’s easy to think that the big things have all been done. That we’re all at the mercy of Billionaire Big Brothers who will decide our collective fate and no vale la pena luchar – It’s not worth the struggle.

It’s easy to think that if you didn’t know any better. If you didn’t know what I know.

I just got back from an NEA conference on the concerns of Women and Minorities. I hosted a panel of passionate educators that ranged the spectrum of teachers, education support professionals, and college professors.

They each spoke from the heart what ordinary educators were doing to change the world and make it a better place – a safer place – a more just place – for their students and for their communities. The audience was packed and just as passionate in their questions and comments for the panel. Oh, my, my, my I was proud of my colleagues.

They all spoke about reaching out beyond their classrooms and doing something big to save a little piece of their world. The amazing thing about each of their stories is that they are not unique. These miracles are repeated in school after school and community after community because seemingly ordinary educators decide that what they have is not good enough. It is because of people like these that we can still stand against those who would literally sell us and our communities to the highest bidder.

It is because of people like these that we have been able to organize and mobilize countless communities to call, write, march, testify, register and vote for something our students and their families need.

Look at the evidence of wins:

We’ve fought back proposals to privatize Social Security that for more and more of our senior citizens is their only regular income.

We’ve fought back proposals to voucherize Medicare, maintaining the solid benefits our students’ grandparents need for basic security.

We saved the schools serving dependents of military families from elimination, and kept gimmicks like vouchers from jeopardizing the quality of Department of Defense schools.

We stopped proposals to slash education funding – cuts that would have hurt our most vulnerable students.

And as of today, we protected the current and future health care of every American. The Supreme Court voted to uphold the Affordable Care Act that will finally end insurance companies’ abuse of lifetime coverage limits; dropping the coverage of people when they get sick; and refusing to cover children and others with pre-existing conditions.

Because of the law, families can keep their children covered until they are 26. Because of the law, seniors will enjoy greater prescription benefits. Because of the law, the uninsured will have a variety of choices of insurance through exchanges so that they can afford the coverage they need.

None of these wins happened by chance.

They happened because NEA organized 660,672 cyber-lobbyists. Because we generated over 400,000 emails to Congress. Because we organized over 2,100 visits to Congressional offices, and because we wrote articles and published editorials and distributed position papers and studies and research on issues that affect our students and our families and our professions.

They happened because we weren’t alone. We had friends. We had Americans for Financial Reform to oversee the financial sector. We had Americans for Tax Fairness to watchdog the tax breaks to the 1% of the richest. We had the Coalition Against Religious Discrimination and the Coalition on Human Needs and the Coalition on Teacher Quality and the Coalition to Preserve Retirement Security.

We are the 99% and there are precious few billionaires amongst us. All we have is our commitment, our passion and our vision for something big; something better. All we have is each other.

Luckily, that’s all we need.

Go. Fight. Win.

93 Responses to “Can You Make a Difference? Yes, You Can!”

  1. P Terzian

    If most educators voted in the best interest of public education what a wonderful world this would be!

  2. Amy Harrison

    I am Sarah Scott from Denham Springs, LA. I appreciate all you do and your being able to keep up with the changing times and keep the NEA members and the world informed.

  3. Darein Spann

    We must stand up for education and our future, the children. If we don’t then who will…..

  4. S Chavez

    Together we are stronger! We must continue to stand strong and remember our values and what NEA stands for and represents. We are the voice for our students! We are ONE!

  5. Ms.Eula

    Vice President, We will stand with you , behind you, beside you and WE WILL WIN!

  6. Judy Arbogast

    Lily, Will you be at the RESULTS conference? I hope to see you there.

  7. Elena Garcia

    We are in a critical moment in our society where it is more important than ever to become civically engaged. We need to inform and organize ourselves to ensure and defend public education.

  8. Mandy Nygren

    The key to our success is collaboration. Together, there is nothing that we cannot accomplish. Let’s sustain our momentum and stay the course! Our students and communities need us. Now more than ever, we need each other.

  9. Judy Arbogast

    Right on!!! We need to work together to make a difference!!!!

  10. kathy tobin

    We must stand up for education and our children’s future. If we don’t, who will. Let’s continue to work together so that all children have the same opportunities.

  11. Brad Frank

    You can make a difference. You can be the change. Everyone counts and every effort helps. Never say die and never ever ever give up!

  12. Ibi Edit Simon

    Great article. I agree with you that we all need to work together to be strong and send an indelible message that public education is PRICELESS.

  13. Will Potter

    I am a School Social Worker at an Alternative High School in N.J. I work with students who face many obstacles, and who have to overcome many challenges. It can be overwhelming at times and when I feel like giving up, I look at my students as if they were my own children. I would never want anyone to give up my children, so I can’t give up on my students. They are somebodys children.
    My students motivate me to be an agent of change. I am a role model for my students and I hope that I can inspire them to never give up.
    As educators we have a calling to serve our students and to advocate on their behalf. We must never give up!

  14. Lance Hilfman

    We all make a difference Lily. I appreciate and applaud your efforts. I don’t know anyone who got into teaching to get rich or for fame. We all care and we show it EVERYDAY no matter where we work or who we work with we are here for the children.

    Great job!

  15. Joshua L. Rubin

    In numbers, there is strength. By embracing the communication techniques of the 21st century, we can better organize to support our students and our brothers and sisters around the country!

  16. Gladys Williams

    We all need to stand up for public schools. All children need an affordable education. Let’s not let them take it away from our students.

  17. Lisa Douthett

    You are doing a wonderful job!!!!!!

  18. Le-Ann Broshous

    Thank you for everything you do! I am looking forward to reading and commenting on your blog!

  19. Stephanie Bell

    Glad to leave a message for Lily on her blackboard. Look forward to reading and commenting on her blog.

  20. cynthia lemere-kelly

    Thank you for help us with your positive attitiude and powerful messages of whope. When need to work together and we are not alone with our positive ideas and helo for our students to have great teachers, great schools and well rounded eductions for all arts, music, science, math, P.E., reading, writing, adn to indtuill to the students we that they have a great future where they will be positive contributers to our nation and our world!

  21. Everett Hayes

    If the United States of America is to remain to world leader. education has to one of it’s major concerns.

  22. Carolyn Friedman

    It is important that we all keep up the good fight, it is wonderful that we have leaders like you and Dennis to keep teachers informed and working toward public education for all.

  23. Giovanna Alsto

    Thank you for all you do inthe Name of education.

  24. La-Goge Graham

    I am so proud to be an american and part of NEA. Thank you for all you do. I am willing to help our cause in any way possible.

    La-Goge Graham

  25. Carol Stewart

    Together are a force to reckon with. Let’s continue to stand in solidarity to further our worthy cause.

  26. Kat Gordon

    Someone must stand up and fight the good fight for “Quality Public Education!” We must not allow corporate America to rule over us! We are the Middle Class and we must stand for what is right for most of the American people. We can band together and become one! We will fight the “Good Fight” to keep our public schools alive, our social security in tact, and our health care benefits afforable. We must not give up on our future: The children of America and the world. We must elect pro-public education candidates because All of our children deserves a “Quality Public Education!” It is their Constitutional Right!

  27. Judy Christensen

    Lily, you have again said it like it is. We have won some battles and we have lost some. We will not stop our fight for justice for our students, their families and yes, even our selves. It is not selfish to want to make sure that we do not end our lives in poverty or on our children’s doorsteps because we made mistakes when we were younger. It is for all Americans who have fought the good fight to end their lives independently and with some margin that they will be able to have medical care when they need it. Thank you for your passion and your commitment to all of us.

  28. Laura Brown

    Each American is valuable no matter their background. Each human being is valuable no matter who they are. We need to help each other and care about each other, that is what makes America strong. Each person doing their part, or helping someone.

  29. Anthony Hancock

    Educators deservce dignity and respect. Children deserve access to high quaility instruction guided by the curriculum. I believe that parents and family should be engaged in and have opportunities to participate in the education of their children.


  30. Judy Christensen

    We can make a difference by organizing and fighting for the rights of children in the public schools.

  31. Marquis Harrison

    As a 26 year old member of the NEA this post once again reaffirms why I’m so proud to be apart of this Union! Working together with partners in every aspect of our society we can assure every child has equal access and the best education! “Ain’t no stopping us now, we’re on the move!”

  32. Sandra Kortjohn

    We are STRONGER when we work as one. The important thing in that we don’t lose faith and become compliant. One person CAN make a difference – imagine what we can do together!

  33. Jean Poznanski

    Hi Lily!!! We have been mobilizing, we are doing fabulous things, however we are leaving behind some of our rank and file members who have not been supported after they have been doing exactly the kind of organizing that NEA and CTA are suppose to be promoting. These teachers whose faces we used to see at the NEA RA are no ousted members . Their schools have dismissed them on trumped up charges which any outside observer can see is directly related to union work….and yet they are hung out to dry. Please, we can not allow this to continue. Notice whose faces we are missing this year. Who next?

  34. Dr. Michael Putney

    I am enjoying the opportunity to interact with colleagues at the #NEARA2012 in DC!

  35. Yalaunda Taylor

    Good educators always go over and beyond the call of duty to reach the WHOLE Child. Continue to be good educators and unite for the fight until the battle is won. Support Public Education.

  36. Kelly DeVore

    Thank you, Lily, for being such a strong and positive model for women everywhere – we are all teachers, we are all givers, we are all entitled to equity – you are a shining example of the teacher we all strive to be!

  37. lorraine bell

    Lily- You are an amazing woman and an inspiration to all – thanks for making my first NEA RA an enjoyable experience.

  38. Yvonne B. Acey

    We as educators,,civic, congressional.political,religious leaders etc are responsible for making this world a better place consisting of dedicated.committed.prepared and compassionate citizens. The future for peace.justice. and equality is in our hands!!!!!

  39. Debbie Rosenman

    Thanks for your leadership in the NEA. It is my fervant wish that we can regain the respect for educators that was enjoyed in the past. Thanks for leading the way!

  40. Stephen Lucchi

    Lily, you are so right! We must be our own advocates and stay active, vigilant, and united. Our resolve is our greatest weapon, and having leaders like you to encourage and guide our efforts is essential.

  41. Felix Lazaro

    Lily, keep it up! You are doing the right thing, go for gold!

  42. Josephine

    I loved this blog post Lily. I am all in for this. And yes, it’s time to make a difference. Everyone with a purpose in life deserves to make a difference and the change the world around them.

    Josephine Bottger

  43. Betty C Potts

    NEA is so partisan that I am ashamed to be a member – the first thing you should do for the organization is to change this and stick just to educational matters and leave off the Rebublican bashing.


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