For the Media

“My Kids”: President & CEO Harriet Sanford at the 2013 Awards Gala

“My Kids”: President & CEO Harriet Sanford at the 2013 Awards Gala

“There are things in life that bring pure joy…you know eating your favorite ice cream or seeing your child master a new skill, when just months ago they were certain they’d never learn how. And while each day in my work here at the Foundation I have the privilege of working with educators and union and community partners from across the county, our annual Gala is that one event where it all comes together. It is pure joy…

As I reflect on the last year in the education arena, it has been filled with lots of conversations about the mechanical part of the work of educators: evaluations and student assessments and always something tied to the contract. But a thoughtful observer recently wrote the following which I think captures what educators really care about:

‘Between the teachers and the city where they live there exists a contract or an MOU, full of legal obligations on both sides, pay steps, duties and responsibilities, all to be negotiated. But there is a higher, more important contract that requires no lawyers, no arbitration.

It is a contract given, not stated, ironclad and universal. It is written on the smart board, demonstrated in the halls, surrounding student desks and classroom walls. It is a contract automatically renewed each year, forged in love, witnessed daily. It is never up for a discussion or vote. It is unchangeable, immutable. And in classrooms across the country the contract remains, unbroken in life, in death, consisting of only two words: my kids.’

Let those words be gently seared into your brain… what matters most to each educator is: my kids.’

– Harriet Sanford, President & CEO of the NEA Foundation, at the NEA Foundation’s 2013 Salute to Excellence in Education Gala.