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Guest Column: Students should stand strong in solidarity with striking teachers

Nell Ranalli
Union members and supporters hold up a sign condemning Mayor Ruthanne Fuller at the NTA rally Wednesday, Jan. 31.

Amid the echoing chants of “Enough is enough,” Newton’s dedicated teachers rally for the thirteenth consecutive day outside City Hall to voice their right to a fair contract. Friday, Jan. 19 marked a shift for Newton’s teachers, as they transformed into protesters, resulting in locked school doors. However, they are more than just educators as they are individuals who play multiple roles in students’ lives. 

During high school, every student feels ready to give up at one point or another. We have all had our “off days” or times when school felt like a pressure on our shoulders we couldn’t shake off. I know I have felt this way more than once. I have cried at school, feeling beaten by my grades, tired from sleepless nights, and left wondering, what was the point? Yet, it’s often the teachers who provide unwavering support, understanding, and encouragement through these challenges.

On the last day of my sophomore year, I had to say goodbye to my history and English teachers whose roles extended beyond the classroom, embodying dedication and care. They were people who understood their students, fought for their students, and also fed their students whether we were having a celebration or merely because someone was hungry. I left the classroom feeling happy another school year was over, yet also sad that I had to leave these people, who went to extremes to care for their students. Nevertheless, I will forever thank them and every other one of my teachers for the effort they put into educating us, conversing with us, and respecting us.

Now, the call to reciprocate that respect arises as Newton’s teachers have been working without a contract for months. With eight days of canceled school and little to no end in sight, they remain steadfast in their commitment to rally and strike until justice is served.

I have attended the rallies at City Hall and at the Education Center. From just driving by and laying on my car horn to giving a speech, I was able to support my teachers and protest with them. While at these rallies, I was also able to reunite with my middle school teachers. Ironically, in a time of desperation and animosity, I couldn’t stop smiling. I was standing at a picket line with people who have seen me grow throughout the years, in maturity and in height. Just being there with them made me feel euphoric. 

The opportunity to speak in front of all my teachers heightened the same emotions. I stood on the top step of City Hall and spoke for the hundreds of people in front of me. Walking through the crowd after, I received multiple thank yous and hugs from people I didn’t even know. The teachers were ecstatic to receive their students’ support, and so appreciative of it. There were over 50 student speakers that day, standing up there fighting for their teachers’ rights. The speakers ranged from first grade to senior year, but we all relayed the same message that our teachers deserve a fair contract. 

A few weeks ago I would tell my mom every day, “I don’t want to go to school”. Yet as the strike closes its second week, I see mixed emotions among students of all grades. With the academic routine disrupted, the impact ranges from seniors finishing college applications to second graders missing their friends. Despite the challenges, student support remains unwavering, symbolized by honking horns, social media posts, and appearances at rallies. 

Regardless of the circumstances, the students affirm the continuous fight for educators’ rights, emphasizing the students’ pivotal role as the driving force behind the teachers’ persistent calls for justice. We are the fuel and we are stuck in the middle, no matter what, I know I will always stand up in front of a crowd and fight for our teachers.

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