By Traci Arway, NBCT, primary multiple disabilities teacher, Columbus
Eleven years ago I started teaching special education so that I could make a difference in the lives of the students who need it most—children with severe and multiple disabilities. I live and work in one of the state’s highest poverty per capita areas, and I wouldn’t change what I do for the world. I didn’t become a teacher to get rich; I became a teacher to serve.
Not only am I a teacher, but I’m a mother of two small children and my husband is also a teacher. Like many of our colleagues, we come from a long line of educators, including my sister-in-law who is an educator and my mother who also is a teacher. My brother works for a public university and my father works for the state of Ohio. I also have a number of cousins who decided to serve Ohioans by working in state government.
But as much as Issue 2 affects my family, our livelihood and everyone else who chose public service instead of more lucrative private sector jobs, I worry more about my students and what will happen if we don’t defeat this unfair attack on public workers. With my students who have severe needs—social, academic and behavioral—Issue 2 silences the voices and effectively prevents professionals, like me from negotiating contract provisions that ultimately would benefit my students.
If passed, Issue 2 will result in a loss of local control and lead to a loss of collaborative spirit.
Education support professionals and teachers are dedicated to their students, and we’re overwhelmingly against Issue 2 because we know how much it will hurt students. Issue 2 is not about improving teacher or student performance—it’s about power, political payback, and very bad policy. My special needs students shouldn’t suffer because Columbus politicians are moving their own agenda, and that’s why I’m voting NO on Issue 2.