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Thank a Teacher....And Support Our Schools

On National Teacher Day, which falls tomorrow, it’s traditional to thank our dedicated and hard- working teachers for all the sacrifices they make in the name of helping each child flourish. And I don’t want to in any way diminish that commitment—we need to honor it and remain deeply dedicated to helping every child reach his or her full potential. That is our calling.

At the same time, things seem different this year. Teachers in states as diverse as West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Arizona, and Colorado have bravely spoken out against the harm that funding cuts have produced in our classrooms. Their stories have dominated the airwaves the past two months, and they cast Teacher Appreciation Week (May 7-11) and National Teacher Day (May 8) in a different light.

We need to talk about recognition and appreciation of a different sort.

We need citizens and our elected leaders to recognize that when we fight for better resources for our students, we’re doing it because we’re in a unique position to see the effects of slashed budgets on children. We see the dilapidated school buildings, the duct-taped books, the enrichment programs eliminated. We want so much more for our students.

We also want recognition that low pay and constant turnover in our teaching ranks is causing a terrible drain of talent that affects not just those who’ve chosen the profession, but also those who stand to gain the most from their teaching—our students.

Elected leaders—show that you recognize the importance of our work by making sure the budgets you pass fill our classrooms with up-to-date textbooks and technology and include the funding necessary to make teaching a profession that doesn’t require teachers to choose between their calling and raising a family.

By all means, recognize and appreciate our great profession this week. AND stand shoulder to shoulder with us as we fight for the resources our schools need to deliver on the promise of a great public school for every child. Our students deserve nothing less.


Jim Livingston

President, Virginia Education Association


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