Teacher Appreciation Day

May 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.

  1. 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?
  2. 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?
  3. 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).
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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!

Claudia Richards By:   |   May 05, 2009


  1. Avatar Ashley Carr says:

    My favorite teacher in elementary school–Mrs. June Gills. As a teacher who greatly expanded the worlds and the imaginations of her students, she has had a long-reaching, positive influence on me even today. What a pleasant surprise many years later, to have seen her name listed as an AAUW member.

  2. Avatar Michael says:

    It’s all part of Teacher Appreciation Week held May 3-9, 2009. Usually honors school staff, as well.

  3. Avatar aggressionmanagement says:

    Research has determined that from the Moment of Commitment (the point when a student pulls their weapon) to the Moment of Completion (when the last round is fired) is only 5 seconds. If it is the intent of a school district to react to this violence, they will do so over the wounded and/or slain bodies of students, teachers and administrators.

    Educational institutions clearly want safe and secure schools. Administrators are perennially queried by parents about the safety of their schools. The commonplace answers, intended to reassure anxious parents, focus on the school resource officers and emergency procedures. While useful, these less than adequate efforts do not begin to provide a definitive answer to preventing school violence, nor do they make a school safe and secure.

    Traditionally school districts have relied upon the mental health community or local police to keep schools safe, yet one of the key shortcomings has been the lack of a system that involves teachers, administrators, parents and students in the identification and communication process. Recently, colleges, universities and community colleges are forming Behavioral Intervention Teams with representatives from all these constituencies. Higher Education has changed their safety/security policies, procedures, or surveillance systems, yet K-12 have yet to incorporate Behavioral Intervention Teams. K-12 schools continue spending excessive amounts of money to put in place many of the physical security options. Sadly, they are reactionary only and do little to prevent aggression because they are designed exclusively to react to existing conflict, threat and violence. These schools reflect a national blindspot, which prefers hardening targets through enhanced security versus preventing violence with efforts directed at aggressors. Security gets all the focus and money, but this only makes us feel safe, rather than to actually make us safer.

    Some law enforcement agencies use profiling as a means to identify an aggressor. According to the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Department of Education’s report on Targeted Violence in Schools, there is a significant difference between “profiling” and identifying and measuring emerging aggression; “The use of profiles is not effective either for identifying students who may pose a risk for targeted violence at school or – once a student has been identified – for assessing the risk that a particular student may pose for school-based targeted violence.” It continues; “An inquiry should focus instead on a student’s behaviors and communications to determine if the student appears to be planning or preparing for an attack.” We can and must assess objective, culturally neutral, identifiable criteria of emerging aggression.

    For a comprehensive look at the problem and its solution, http://www.aggressionmanagement.com/White_Paper_K-12/

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