Educator voice is an important advocacy tool. It has been used to elevate conversations about improving academic standards, securing additional resources for schools, and strengthening the teaching profession. Most importantly, the voices of educators have been used to advocate for the needs of their students.

Earlier this month, I attended the annual Educator Voice Meeting hosted by the PIE (Policy Innovators in Education) Network. Representatives from organizations all over the country convened in Oakland, California, to discuss various initiatives in which teachers in their states are lending their voices to serve as advocates for their students. Throughout the workshop, each representative shared stories of the victories and triumphs their teacher advocates experienced over the past year. They also spoke of the obstacles that advocates were able to overcome and expressed gratitude for the hard work and resilience educators demonstrated during challenging times.

With every story shared by each organization, two common themes emerged — educators all across the country want what’s best for their students, and they are all steadfast in their efforts to improve the quality of education their students receive.  

Educators are passionate about the work they do. They believe in their students and know that all children are capable of great things. Educators know that their commitment of time and energy is essential to ensuring their students are learning, growing, and progressing; and they work daily to equip their students with the tools needed to be successful in life.

Educators also understand that they play an important role in improving educational opportunities not just for students within their buildings but for all students. Educators recognize the value in elevating their voices; and they understand that their experience and expertise give them a unique perspective. Sharing stories from their schools and classrooms allows educators to advocate for students in a truly personalized way, and educators everywhere feel obligated to speak up.

I learned many valuable lessons while attending the Educator Voice Meeting earlier this month, but I also gained confirmation of notions I know to be true. Educator voice is powerful, and whether it be principals, classroom teachers, instructional coaches, or superintendents, educators throughout the country are using their voices to advocate for student-centered policies. 

Shaundraya Hersey is advocacy manager at SCORE.