The Kyle File
by David Abdel
Last week was Teacher Appreciation Week all over the country and I’m sure the free coffee and breakfast items were happily being consumed en masse. It’s that time of year where businesses and non-teachers make it a point to publicly display their kind sentiments toward our profession, provide us with freebies and gift cards, write nice messages and advertisements and wish us well for all of our hard work in schools. It certainly is a nice week to be an educator.
That being said, I would happily forgo the celebratory week in favor of strong, honest advocacy year round. While it is certainly appreciated, I don’t need Starbucks gift cards, I need funding for my school. I don’t need Krispy Kreme donuts, I need early intervention programs. I don’t need passes to the movies, I need infrastructure upgrades in my building. I don’t need my list cleared on Amazon, I need wage increases for my field so we don’t have to beg the internet for school supplies.
If you truly want to appreciate teachers, and if you truly admire the work that we do, please advocate on behalf of the profession. When teachers groups ask for you to call or write your elected officials, do it. When we ask you to come to a school board meeting to advocate for things we need, do it. When we ask you to help the PTA plan something on behalf of students, do it. When we ask you to participate more in helping to educate children, do it.
American education needs to improve. We need better pay to attract better candidates into the field. We are in dire need of funding for programs. It costs money to build programs for student benefit across the myriad of contents. It costs money to build programs that supplement or enrich learning. It costs money for programs to build professional development for teachers. It costs money to provide more hands-on learning opportunities for students and partnering with the community to create those. It costs money to provide students with access to useful technology and upgrade that as it advances. It costs money to build more schools so that overcrowding and transportation lag no longer weigh on student success.
It takes effort to persuade our elected officials to act on education. Too often bills are passed without much debate that handcuff educators and what they can do/teach in class. We need to broaden our curriculum, not stifle it. We need elected officials to know that the general public supports public education and educators. The pressure needs to be on, all the time. You can make that a reality. Inquire about what issues matter to your teachers. Ask what you can do. There are plenty of sites and social media groups that detail all of this. Please help.
So, thank you for all the nifty gifties. It truly means a lot; and sometimes yes, a free coffee goes a VERY long way in making a teacher feel appreciated. That coffee can make a difference in a day, believe me. But honestly, your support means more in a ballot box than in a Starbucks.