Teacher Appreciation Week is quickly approaching, May 2 – 6. This nationwide celebration is promoted by the U.S. Department of Education, Florida Department of Education (FL DOE), and most school districts as a time to thank public school teachers for their time and dedication to our children. Ideas abound for creative ways to show your appreciation, from handmade thank you notes and crafts to gift cards and classroom supplies. This year, we’d like to take our appreciation for teachers a step further.
If you’ve paid attention to the conversation surrounding education reform long enough, you’ve probably learned that teachers are undervalued, underappreciated and morale is at an all-time low across the United States. Teachers are demoralized by politicians and other education leaders. They are blamed for just about everything that’s wrong with the education system, even when most factors are beyond their control.
Through the standardization of education and the punitive accountability system in our state, teacher autonomy has been stripped away, which is a major factor in their job satisfaction.
The toll that all of these reform efforts are having on teachers is tremendous. Teachers are more stressed than ever before, and it’s affecting their health in many cases.
The crisis has escalated to the point where less new professionals are interested in entering into a teaching career, and the FL DOE has even identified several subject areas where the teacher shortage has reached critical status. Many districts across the State are struggling to find teachers to fill open positions. Resignation letters from Florida teachers such as Wendy Bradshaw and Tracy Suits tug at our heartstrings and make us wonder what we can do to stop the demoralization of teachers and restore our classrooms to the centers of education they once were.
How Can You Help?
In addition to the traditional ways of thanking teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week (which they certainly do appreciate!), we’re asking parents to help restore value and respect to the teaching profession. Let’s tell our state and district leaders that we will no longer stand for the way they are treating one of our most precious resources – the people who are on the front line day in and day out making a difference in our children’s lives. Let state and district leaders know that teachers are highly trained professionals, working hard to be successful, and we trust them to do the jobs they were hired to do.
- Email the elected officials that represent your area. Start by finding your Senator and Representative here. Once you have their email addresses, visit this page to find the email contacts for the Governor, Commissioner of Education and Board of Education and include them in the email. In your email, let them know that you value and respect teachers, and demand that they do the same. Tell them that as a parent, you will no longer stand for the punitive test and punish system that is ruining our teachers and schools.
- Email your district’s School Board members and Superintendent with the same message. Our District Resources page has a link to the contact information for every district. Include personal stories about how teachers have affected your child’s life, and why you trust those teachers to assess your child without the use of the FSA or other tests that have no academic value.
- If you use social media, contact state and district leaders that way as well. Use the hashtag: #LetThemTeach