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Teacher Appreciation? Why Educators Must Teach America What That Means

Teachers can't create the schools students deserve if they can't find ways to appreciate, protect, and stand up for themselves.


Our society is of (at least) two minds when it comes to public school teachers and teaching. One line of thinking leads us to consistently rank teachers among the most trusted and valued members of society, and rightly so. The other line of thought somehow manages to ignore everything teachers do before and after student contact hours, and over the summer.

People who know and are close to teachers know how much work teachers do. They see the bags that come home stuffed with papers to grade and other things to do, but many people often think, "Well, my sister-in-law/wife/husband works so much harder than most other teachers," never realizing how many other people are saying the exact same thing about their loved ones. That is why the increase in seemingly simple acts of teacher activism, evident in teachers showcasing their work via social media and hosting events like "grade-ins" in malls and other public places, have been so significant. We need more of this—more participation from even more teachers.

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If America's Serious About Appreciating Teachers, Here's What it Takes

The current tenor of our national conversation about education is a reminder of the dire straits the teaching profession is in.


This week America celebrates Teacher Appreciation Week, five days chock-full of poems, gift cards, and discounts for K-12 educators all across the country, and today is also National Teacher Appreciation Day. I appreciate getting a free burrito at Chipotle and homages to Taylor Mali, writer of "What Teachers Make," as much as the next educator, but the current tenor of our national conversation about education also reminds me of the dire straits our profession is in.

For instance, President Barack Obama tainted last year's Teacher Appreciation Week by proclaiming that same week National Charter School Week, opting to highlight only what charter schools do to the exclusion of teachers from all school systems nationwide.

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Teachers in the Trenches Aren't Impressed with Arne Duncan's "Appreciation Letter"

Duncan's open letter to teachers expressing his appreciation for their hard work hasn't exactly been well-received.

"Sorry, Arne. I think this is just lip service."

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