MNEA president addresses the collective action of students at MU
JEFFERSON CITY - Charles Smith, the Missouri National Education Association president, issued a statement Tuesday, commending MU students for their efforts in advocating for change. He referred to both recent protest about racial divisions and the work of graduate students to improve their compensation and work load expectations.
MNEA Political Director Mark Jones said the association helped graduate students on campus as they worked collectively to form a union fighting for what he calls “fair working conditions.”
Jones also said students continued to inspire Smith as they challenged racial discrimination on campus.
“President Smith thought it would be important to issue a statement showing support for the effort and support for anytime students organize a union on campus, and try to improve the campus culture and the life on campus for students,” Jones said.
Smith’s statement emphasized that all students deserve to feel accepted regardless of the institution. In order to achieve a welcoming atmosphere, Jones said, the organization conducts training with educators, helping them discuss topics in the classroom addressing issues from various perspectives.
“We want to make sure they are bringing tools and tool kits into the classroom so that we are not just talking about and educating from one perspective, but we’re helping inspire students and creating a love of learning, because they’re understanding education comes from multiple perspectives,” Jones said.
Jones said the MNEA strives to have a diverse set of educators in classrooms in order to spark meaningful conversations and it will keep working with educators on the subject.
“I think the conversation about making sure that people from all sorts of backgrounds have a voice at the table, that the education is talking to them and that we are inspiring every student that comes into the classroom,” Jones said.
This is Smith’s full statement:
"Whether students attend the state’s flagship University or an elementary school in rural Missouri, they deserve to feel welcomed, safe and inspired. I applaud the actions of students at the University of Missouri who, using the power of peaceful collective action, have made their voices heard and will continue to push for meaningful change.
"Students are at the center of everything educators do. As union members, we know that when people work together, they can make extraordinary progress for social and economic change. Seeing how much the University of Missouri students and graduate employees have accomplished in the past months by standing in solidarity together advocating for fair working conditions, challenging racial discrimination, and demanding meaningful change inspires us all."