As the battle to save public education continues, Americans are increasingly looking to educators as the “only hope for saving kids.” After decades of being blamed for problems in schools, teachers are now enjoying a national renaissance of support for fighting hard and advocating for students despite low pay and challenging working conditions.
This trend is spotlighted in a recent story in Education Week that examines the nationwide wave of teacher activism, public attitudes toward educators and the challenges they face, and how quickly teachers went from being blamed for education’s woes to praised for standing up for students.
From the nationwide wave of educator strikes that shined light on the lack of education resources and meager teacher pay to out-of-pocket spending by educators to support their students to stories in major national media on teachers who work more than one job to survive, public sentiment for the plight of educators is at its highest in decades.
Veteran high school teacher and Palo Alto Educators Association member David Cohen cautioned at getting caught up in the swelling public support, noting that most educators just want the resources and tools they need to help their students achieve.
“A lot of us don’t have a particular desire to be held up as martyrs or superheroes,” Cohen told Education Week. “We’d rather just be paid well and treated well.”
Better pay for educators is gaining public support nationwide, with a recent poll showing nearly half of Americans support higher salaries. Combined with the growing willingness of educators to stand together for each other, students and schools, it’s possible that the trend will translate into real policy change. With 160 current classroom teachers running for state legislature seats across the country, educators are poised to take even greater leadership roles nationwide.