Currently, there are 567,000 fewer educators in public schools in America than there were before the pandemic.
First published: May 2022.
This week the first full week in May, every year, is supposed to be when we uplift and honor a certain profession. I’m embarrassed to admit the only way I know this is from a google doodle I encountered while doing a google search. Considering I have close blood relatives that serve in the profession, embarrassment is an understatement. Unfortunately, I am not alone in my ignorance, the rest of American society seems to be just as unknowing as I was, considering that this profession ranks second only to the medical profession in the proliferation of human life development, all of America should be embarrassed over the true diamonds in America that we refuse to properly acknowledge!
The true diamonds in America we refuse to properly acknowledge are TEACHERS, teachers of all subjects of education, and teachers at all levels of education. Two of my relatives are college-level teachers, commonly referred to as professors, who when compared to their fellow teachers on the secondary, elementary, and pre-school levels are adequately compensated and enjoy a degree of social acknowledgement their fellow teachers at lower levels of education do not.
But teachers at the secondary, elementary, and pre-school levels are arguably more important than the college professors. Considering a child’s brain is more receptive to learning during the first five years of its life than at any other point in life, and by the age of five 90% of the brain’s capacity has already developed, college professors would have no brains to further develop without the early brain development secondary, elementary and pre-school teachers provide.
A cornerstone of American society is placing great or little monetary value on things that do or don’t matter. The fact that public school teachers across America earn about 20% less in weekly wages than non-teacher College graduates is an indication of the widespread blindness in America to the true diamonds among us.
It is not an exaggeration to say that a teacher can change a student’s life. There are an endless amount of great teacher stories that attest to the benefits of a strong relationship between a teacher and a student. As some of the most influential role models for developing students, teachers are responsible for more than just academic enrichment. They connect with students and reach them on multiple levels because the best teachers are committed to their students’ well-being both inside and outside the classroom.
By forging strong relationships with students teachers can affect virtually every aspect of a student’s life, teaching them the important life lessons that will help them succeed beyond term papers and standardized tests. Teachers affect future generations in the following 3 important ways:
Teachers make learning fun, stimulating, and engaging providing lessons that are pivotal to a student’s academic success. Students who are more prone to misbehavior, truancy, or disengagement are more dependent on an engaging teacher. They make the classroom an exciting environment for learning, holding the students’ fascination who learn best when they are both challenged and interested. Motivating students is not easy but benefits students immeasurably in the long run.
All of us have had at least one teacher that we will remember until the day we die. Most likely this is a positive memory, one that inspired the best in us. Inspiring students is key to ensuring their success and encouraging them to fulfill their potential. Students who are inspired by their teachers can accomplish amazing things, and that motivation almost always stays with them. Inspiration can also take many forms, from helping a student through the academic year and their short-term goals to guiding them toward their future career. Years after graduation, many working professionals still cite a particular teacher as the one who fostered their love of what they currently do and attribute their accomplishments to that teacher.
Teachers are often a trusted source of advice for students weighing important life decisions. Teachers help students pursue higher education, explore career opportunities and compete in events they might otherwise have not thought themselves able to. Students look to their teachers as mentors with experience and knowledge. Considering that one in four students drops out of school an adept teacher can notice the indications that a student is struggling and intervene before it’s too late. Aside from educating students on the hard facts about dropping out, teachers can also help assess the problem and figure out an alternative. In these particular situations, teachers undoubtedly can change and save the lives of students.
The fact that teachers are paid less in wages and compensation than other college-educated workers with similar experience is an insult when you consider that those other professions have a far less impact on society, after all regardless of how you contribute to society you first need a well-prepared mind in order to execute your contribution to society. In other words, the people in other professions making more than teachers first had to have a teacher teach them before they could do their jobs in those other professions.
And the fact that more than half of public school educators in America are so burned out from the COVID-19 pandemic that, according to a National Education Association (NEA) poll, they are prepared to leave the teaching profession should alarm all Americans. Currently, there are 567,000 fewer educators in public schools in America than there were before the pandemic.
Teachers’ importance to society, their service, and their commitment to human development are undeniable. Only the female sex and the medical profession have more impact on life as we know it, teachers certainly deserve this week of saluting their service since their impact is felt for the entire 52 weeks of the year. If you see a teacher this week give them a HANDSHAKE and a THANK YOU. If you think of a teacher this week send them a thank you card, note, or email. And if you believe in a religion, every day this week send up a prayer thanking God for the true diamonds among us that we simply refuse to acknowledge, TEACHERS!
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— AUTHOR —
▫ Isaac Newton Farris Jr., Nephew of Martin Luther King Jr, he serves as Senior Fellow at King Center. Growing up in one of the most socially & politically active families has given him a unique perspective on current events.
- Text: This piece was originally published in Isaac Newton Farris Jr.’s blog and re-published in PMP Magazine on 8 May 2022, with the author’s consent. | The author writes in a personal capacity.
- Cover: Flickr/CDC. (Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)