Teacher Appreciation DayMay 05, 2009
As I was driving to work, I noticed a large banner in front of the National Education Association that said May 5 is Teacher Appreciation day. I am not familiar with this holiday, but I think it is a great idea. My favorite teacher in school was Ms. Douglas at Arrowhead Elementary School. (My parents believed in public education.) Ms. Douglas allowed each student a turn as her assistant for the day. This was a huge responsibility—we had to record numbers in her special notebook. (I now realize they were grades.) When I look back at what we did in school (music and art at least once a week and physical education every day) and compare it to what kids do today (gym twice a week), there are stark changes. I think teachers and students in some jurisdictions are missing important experiences.
If I had the opportunity to sit down with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, I would discuss several issues related to teachers and students.
- Title IX was signed into law in 1972, yet it is constantly under attack. AAUW remains vigilant so that future generations, don’t have to break through barriers to equal opportunities in education. Why is equity still an issue?
- Where are the arts classes? When I was in public school I learned to play the flute, we had chorus, and we put on plays. I wonder how many fourth graders today know what an operetta is or how to sing in the round?
- Why is physical education only a few times a week? According to the Centers for Disease Control, childhood obesity has nearly tripled from the time I started elementary school (1976).
- What are the kids eating at school? We had cooked food at school, now everything is microwaved and processed. I knew of two kids that had asthma and a few with allergies in school. Now it seems most kids have allergies or asthma.
- School violence is an issue that affects everyone. Teachers are attacked in classrooms. Students are harassed, bullied, and die in the classroom. These issues are not just in the inner city, so let’s not use that excuse. What can we all do to make school a safe place for learning and growing? AAUW and others have worked on sexual harassment and bullying, but there is so much to be done.
- Because teachers are underpaid, some of the most qualified people to teacher our young people can’t afford to stay in the field. Most teachers are women, salaries are low in this field, and pay equity continues to be a problem even for teachers.
- Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) are the largest areas of growth for America and the world. Girls are particularly at risk for falling behind. AAUW has partnered with Puget Sound Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology; Assessing Women and Men in Engineering; and the Education Development Center to create the National Girls Collaborative Project. This program has been effective in raising awareness about STEM.
- These are just a few issues I have, but we all need to be a part of the solution. Both of my grandmothers and several other relatives were educators, but my most important and effective teacher has been my mother. Thanks, Mom, and, all the other teachers out there, keep up the great work.
We appreciate you!