Pankaj Sharma, IL
I view my job as an educator as a privilege. I teach a range of social science classes including United States History, Government and Politics, and African and Latin American Studies at Niles North High School in Niles, Illinois. But I truly view my profession as the work of shaping young minds and making sure they are ready to go out into the world as good citizens.
Their success is in our nation’s best interest. That means giving them the best education, using the best tools, tactics and technology available is in our nation’s best interest, too. I want students to be in classes of a decent size, so teachers can connect with them and make sure they are connecting with the material. I also want to make sure that I have the ability to go to classes and trainings so I can stay up-to-date with the best practices of teaching today.
That is the educational experience our children deserve. It’s the experience they can only get when teachers have the ability to come together to work for those standards. It’s the experience they can only get when we can negotiate for fair wages that sustain our families and attract bright minds to our profession.
That’s why unions are so important. They give working people the opportunity to speak in one loud voice and create those conditions. I’m proud to have served as the president of the Niles Township Federation of Teachers, an executive board member of the North Suburban Teachers Union, and a member of the American Federation of Teachers Professional Programs and Policy Council on K-12 education. I’m proud of the work I’ve done through those unions – for teachers and students alike.
Parents everywhere want their children’s teachers to be focused on the job at hand: educating their students. By allowing the union to focus on negotiations, teachers can focus on what we love to do – teaching.