karen-aronowitz_web.jpgI admit to watching hockey only a few times in my life. I was a Florida Panthers fan during the days when we threw rubber rats onto the rink after the Panthers scored.

I have also watched the film The Mighty Ducks many times. The images of those speedy, violent melees stay with me.
My job as a teachers’ union president and public schools advocate has thrust me into a metaphoric hockey league.  Politics, like hockey, is a game for the resilient. Both involve speed, sticks, personal body armor, and a willingness to take a hit and keep skating.

Unfortunately, our public schools are often used as hockey pucks, whacked at by competing interests whose goal is to score political points rather than create public schools that adequately serve the children of our state. No legislator has ever been able to brag that Florida has provided the competitive salaries, resources and technology necessary for a top-ranked school system.
What’s a hockey coach to do?

First, I’m recruiting you for the baddest team going. We are Stanley Cup material. Whether you are a parent, a business owner, a worker, a volunteer, a man, woman or child, it’s time to suit up for public schools.

Second, attend practice. Each team member must be a voice for adequate funding for our public schools, especially here in Miami-Dade County.  More of our locally raised real estate tax dollars need to stay here in South Florida to fund our local public schools instead of being sent to other parts of the state. Our Miami-Dade legislative delegation needs to take care of business at home. They must join with Broward and Palm Beach counties to ensure that our area of the state receives our fair share of Florida’s education revenue.

Finally, show up at game time! Florida must retain funding for education at current levels. There can be no more cuts to education! Whether we play at home (South Florida) or away (Tallahassee and Washington, D.C.) we need you in the game. We need you to be a goalie, blocking harm from our public schools. We need you flying across the ice, moving public education forward so the victory is ours.

The final victory really belongs to Florida’s children.

Karen Aronowitz is president of the United Teachers of Dade, which represents 38,000 teachers and school support personnel in the Miami-Dade County Public School system.