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The superintendent of the K12 school district where I first taught held a drive each September to encourage teachers to join state and national education associations beyond our local union. We knew that participation, at least in the NEA—which functioned as a professional association in some states and a labor union in others—was not really optional, especially because our enrollment level at 100 percent was announced each year as a matter of pride.

After serving as editor-in-chief and then executive editor of District Administration, and writing and editing for our sister education publication University Business more than a decade ago, it is an enormous privilege to step into a new role as columnist for both magazines and editor at large (my wife says it is more accurate to say editor at “extra-large”).