Happy Teacher Appreciation Week. I hope your free Chik-Fil-A sandwich or BOGO Chipotle burrito was delicious. I hope your PTA and administration wrecked your diet with baked goods and goody bags attached to cute little sayings. I hope your kids remembered to say thank you. I hope a few wrote you sweet little notes that are worth more than to you than the kids could ever imagine. I hope some saintly parent donated a few reams of paper or other desperately needed supplies to your classroom.
I wish though, teachers, that you didn’t have to rely on the kindness of parents for donations. Or that you didn’t have to pay for them out of pocket. While the discounts this week, the platitudes from politicians and celebrities, the knickknacks, the junk food are nice, the reality is that a week of appreciation is not sufficient.
This week, in Texas, we heard that schools will still be measured by test riddled with glitches.
This week, in Detroit, teachers held “sick outs” to call attention to the budget crisis so severe that their paychecks, their livelihood, the roof over their heads and the food on the table of their own children, is in jeopardy.
This week, the Center for Education Policy released the results of a study showing that teachers today feel stressed by poor leadership, a lack of voice in national discussions about education, and over emphasis on standardized testing.
Here’s what I wish you had instead of Teacher Appreciation Week.
- I wish that you had the time during the day to plan, to collaborate, and experience impactful professional learning opportunities like so many teachers in other countries have.
- I wish that every politician was required to actually spend a few days in the schools he or she represents.
- I wish that the charter v. public v. private v. vouchers v. homeschool wars would end – at the end of the day, it is in the best interest of everyone to ensure that every child is provided with a quality education – the future of our nation depends on it, public education is a cornerstone of our democracy.
- I wish that every principal, every central office administrator, and every school board member be required to spend 2 days per year substituting in the classroom in the district they serve.
- I wish you weren’t cast in the media as one of two roles – the self-sacrificing martyr who gives literally all they have to save the kids or the boring, out-of-touch, leech on the public who hates kids.
- I wish you had equitable compensation for your level of education and time spent working.
- I wish that governments spent more on schools than they do on prisons, instead of vice versa.
- I wish we would scrap the over emphasis on a single measurement of students and move to a whole-child approach to education.
- I wish that the toughest kids you have today someday realize the potential you see in them, even when they refuse to see it themselves.
And, I wish that on your hardest, bleakest days that you remember the optimism and enthusiasm you had when you walked into the door of your first classroom. I sincerely hope that you never lose it entirely, even if it gets occasionally bruised and battered. I wish for you the strength and the courage to keep pushing for kids, their families, the future of our field, and the future of this country.