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Volunteer Stories

Volunteer Stories

Politics affects everything we hold near and dear

Last year, when I was sitting in the balcony at the state house listening to arrogant legislators ignoring the voice of the people, I knew I had to get involved politically. Today, even though we won the Issue 2 battle by defeating SB 5, the attacks continue. These attacks are not  just on educators, firefighters, police or nurses.  There are attacks on college students trying to afford to go to college, health care, women, school funding, the environment and the list goes on and on. But I know that if we come together and stand together in solidarity, we will prevail.  Together, we can get the power back into the hands of the people.

As educators, we need to support our brave OEA colleagues running in political races across Ohio. I have canvassed for Donna O’Connor in the 21st House primary and am very involved in helping Maureen Reedy with her run in the 24th House district.  Our teacher candidates will stand with us, listen to us and do the right thing for kids and workers inside the statehouse.
I believe it’s our responsibility to educate our fellow teachers and the public that to  protect our communities (the 99%) they need to vote for Obama. Think about your profession and tie it to politics. It’s all connected.

Paula Garfield
Teacher, Columbus Education Association


The Accidental Activist

Well, I grew up never hearing anyone talk about politics. My family, friends and colleagues – no one really gave it much consideration, and neither did I. The last thing I'd ever volunteer to do is talk to strangers about political candidates or issues, let alone ask people for money or to volunteer their time.

So you can imagine what my first political action training was like. In one session, we broke up into small groups to simulate recruiting new volunteers, and just role-playing freaked me out! But after two and a half days of intense training, I left ready to tackle the world – well, at the very least, phone-banking. I remember that political season feeling successful and empowered, especially at Ted Strickland’s election as Governor, and that carried into Obama's election as President, where I canvassed door-to-door for the first time, and I actually enjoyed it.

When SB 5 hit, I sprang into action. Maybe I watched “Norma Rae” too many times as a kid, or maybe SB 5 felt too much like a lunch-money shakedown from the school bully.  Either way, I refused to be a victim in this scenario. Luckily my friends, family, and colleagues joined in the effort. Issue 2 showed me that one person can make a difference. And just when I felt exhausted, someone would step in and volunteer to host a house party or join me canvassing. Perry came out in record numbers — we were the leaders in Stark County. They made me proud to be part of the Perry community.

SB 5 brought public employees together. Together we can bring change in November, and who wouldn't be excited to be involved in that!

Kelli Green
Teacher, Perry CTA - Stark County

I Can't Watch from the Sidelines

Reflecting on the last fifteen years, I know there is nothing more rewarding or enjoyable I could have been doing than teaching. The lessons I have taught and the connections I have created have made me excited to get up and go to school each morning.

This past year, however, I realized that there are constant threats to the career I love and the public education system that I believe in. SB5 showed me that there are people in power who don’t respect the work that my colleagues and I do every day to benefit Ohio’s children.

I can either watch from the sidelines, as extreme and out-of-touch politicians chip away at my profession, or I can get involved and make a difference in the political landscape that has invaded my and my friends’ classrooms. 

Whether it is conducting press conferences, circulating petitions, educating my colleagues or assisting candidates, like retired teacher, Jeff Bunck, who is running for the 47th House District, I am energized for the task. I realize that, if I, and other teachers, don’t get involved, the career we have dedicated ourselves to for so long, will change in ways that don’t benefit us, our students or the community in general.

Dan Greenberg
Teacher, Sylvania Education Association

Fired up and ready to help

There is nothing as important to the future of public education as electing pro-worker, pro-public education candidates from the bottom of the ticket to the top, and supporting initiatives that put power back into the hands of Ohio voters in 2012.

I didn’t do enough during the campaign in 2010, and I now know the results of my inaction have serious, harmful consequences in my classroom every single day. We must work to stop this assault on our profession, on our students. The attack is more covert this year as elected officials try to conceal Senate Bill 5 (SB5) provisions in municipal and district level policies.

I am thrilled that we have so many OEA members running in races all over the state. In March, I canvassed to help Donna O’Connor win her primary in the 21stHouse District because I know she will stand up for kids and workers inside the statehouse. I also contributed to her campaign and increased my FCPE contribution. I see my time and money as an investment in a movement that will improve the lives of all Ohioans.

Everything is political. We (as educators, as parents, as citizens) have to get fired up and ready to help pro-worker, pro-public education candidates get elected and support initiatives that put Ohio Voters First. We have to work to defeat the so-called Right to Work amendment. We have to work to ensure fair elections in Ohio. We have to work for equality for all Ohio families. We have no option but to work in Campaign 2012. Our future depends on it.

Courtney Johnson
Teacher, Ironton Education Association

Volunteer video
Volunteer video
Remember the hard work to collect 1.3 million signatures in 2011 to defeat Issue 2 to repeal SB 5? Imagine if we had to repeat that process every year?

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