COMMENTARY

President Obama Puts Teachers In Play

National Teacher Appreciation Day And National Teacher Appreciation Week Declared

President Obama in a press release has proclaimed May 3, 2016, as National Teacher Appreciation Day and May 1 through May 7, 2016, as National Teacher Appreciation Week.

Photo Credit: President Obama.
Photo Credit: President Obama.

The President lauded the effort and the role played by teachers in the socio-economic and political development of the U.S.

“As our national narrative has progressed, we have become a more equal society, cleared paths to opportunity, and affirmed the extraordinary potential of all our people — regardless of their race, their gender, their sexual orientation, their religion, or the zip code they were born into. But there is still work to be done. If our country’s story is going to reflect the diversity we draw strength from, it needs to be written by people that represent the wide range of backgrounds and origins that comprise our national mosaic, and as the next generation rises and prepares to shape that narrative, our teachers will be with them every step of the way — imparting critical knowledge and opening their minds to the possibilities tomorrow holds. In working to ensure all our daughters and sons have the chance to add their voice and perspective to America’s story, our teachers help shape a Nation that better reflects the values we were founded upon,”  the President noted.

He further noted that part of his administration thrust has been  to foster innovation and drive change within the education system as well as expand educational opportunities and outcomes for all America’s learners.

He posited that central to the goal of transformation within the education system is to build and strengthen the teaching profession so that teachers are enabled and equipped to inspire rising generations.

“I have worked hard throughout my Presidency to make sure my Administration does its part to support our educators and our education system, but the incredible progress our country has seen — from achieving record high graduation rates to holding more students to high standards that prepare them for success in college and future careers — is thanks to the dedicated teachers, families, and school leaders who work tirelessly on behalf of our young people.”

The President argued that having an effective teacher in the classroom can make a meaningful difference in the success of a student.

He said that his Administration has been committed to better recruiting, preparing, retraining, and rewarding America’s teachers.

He also pointed to the fact that following the worst economic crisis in the nation’s history since the Great Depression, his Administration supported significant investments in education through the Recovery Act to keep more than 300,000 educators in the classroom.

“We have invested more than $2.7 billion through competitive grants to better recruit, train, support, and reward talented teachers and educators, and we have worked to make sure teachers have a strong voice and a seat at the table in the policymaking process,” said the President.

“At the urging of the Department of Education, all fifty States are advancing teacher equity plans to ensure that districts can support and retain educators in schools that need them most. In my State of the Union address in 2011, I announced a national goal to prepare 100,000 public school STEM teachers by 2021 to help ensure more of our young innovators can seize the opportunities of tomorrow — and I am proud that we are on track to meet that goal,” he added.

He explained that he recently signed the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), a program that will ensure that students are held to high standards while preparing them for college and careers. He said ESSA reflects his Administration’s approach to education reform by empowering States and local decision makers, who know what their students need best, to shape their own progress with accountability.

Additionally, he said ESSA addresses the issue of testing in the Testing Action Plan he announced last fall that will serve to help off load the burden of standardized testing and free up teachers so that they spend less time testing and more time teaching.

“This law will also allow more States and districts to support teachers and expand access to computer science, a critical skill our students need in the innovation economy.”

“Our future is written in schools across our country. It is likely that the first person who will go to Mars is in a classroom today. Our students are our future teachers, scientists, politicians, public servants, and parents — a generation that will steer the course we will take as a people and make possible things we have not even imagined yet. We look to the women and men standing in front of classrooms in all corners of our country — from cities to reservations to rural towns — to vest America’s daughters and sons with the hard skills they will need to put their dreams within reach and to inspire them to dream even bigger. On National Teacher Appreciation Day and during National Teacher Appreciation Week, let us ensure our educators know how much we value their service in the classroom, how much we appreciate all they do for our students and families, and how thankful we are for their contributions to our national progress,” he further opined.

Davy Desmond, Readers Bureau, Fellow

Edited by Jesus Chan

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