Virginia House Member on Turning Teacher Appreciation into Action

Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

By Dogwood Staff

May 8, 2023

This Teacher Appreciation Week, I am choosing to honor and appreciate our educators, including my favorite teacher, my wife Karen, with action. As the husband of a public school teacher and the father of two boys in our public schools, I know how much our teachers give, how much they sacrifice, and how much they care about our children. 

Our teachers deserve more praise, more pay, and more action. Teachers are in the business of shaping lives — and we know that this work, while rewarding, is also incredibly challenging.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, teachers worked tirelessly to adapt to a world that changed overnight. They were charged with caring for our children’s well-being and education while converting in-person lesson plans to online lessons almost instantaneously. Throughout all of this, teachers were charged with making education accessible to all in a world where the playing field is already not level and while managing their own personal hardships during the pandemic. I am so grateful for their unending dedication.

When I think about what it means to truly “appreciate” their efforts, I know that kind words, gift cards, and small tokens of appreciation are nice — but fall immeasurably short of what they deserve.

Our teachers here in Virginia deserve tireless advocates – advocates who show up when it matters most. Our teachers all deserve collective bargaining rights and to have all of us behind them as they fight for better conditions for themselves and their students. When our teachers show up day in and day out, they deserve leadership in the state House that has confidence in their professionalism, not leadership that is determined to demonize them. 

Just last week, the Washington Post reported that many of our teachers are at risk of losing their jobs because the Virginia Department of Education is months behind in issuing licenses. Ensuring our qualified teachers can continue to support their families and ours would be the first step in showing appreciation. Losing these teachers would have devastating impacts on our children, especially high-poverty schools that need these quality teachers the most. This administration continues to show where their priorities are by not supporting our educators. Do we really believe that they value our teachers? 

I want to live in a Virginia that guarantees a world class education for our children. Let’s start with supporting world class jobs for our educators, and making sure the state does everything it can do to lessen administrative burdens. Let’s make sure we retain the best educators here in our Commonwealth so our students have the best chance at succeeding in our changing world. I am committed to this, despite the best efforts of our current Governor to undermine these efforts. 

Join me in thanking our educators and join me in making this commitment to them.

Del. Dan Helmer, who currently represents parts of Fairfax and Prince William Counties in the Virginia House of Representatives is running for re-election in the November General Election. Helmer is a reserve member of the United States Army, and has served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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