Today is National Teacher Appreciation Day. State Superintendent Tony Bennett's penned his own tribute to Indiana teachers.
Appreciation day aside, it's a tough time to be a teacher. Not just because budget cuts are threatening jobs, salary and benefits. Workers almost everywhere are facing those issues. But most aren't facing the criticism teachers are receiving over job performance. At both the state and federal level, classroom teachers seem to be shouldering the blame for all of society's ills.
Schools are an interesting institution in that people want to believe they never change. They willingly accept dramatic changes in business, medicine and technology, but they cling to views of classrooms just as they existed years and decades ago. I suspect that's why too many people are resistant to ideas that would truly help education, like high-quality preschool programs -- the old "I didn't go to preschool and look how well I turned out."
We're all experts on education because we all went to school, but the best way to show appreciation for teachers today might be to ask them what it's really like to be an educator -- both the challenges and the rewards. For all of the challenges, I suspect most teachers can offer up plenty of rewards. These are people who chose a profession, after all, knowing they would never make a great deal of money but could make a difference.
More important than thanking current teachers might be thanking education students. Teachers fill an important role in preparing future generations of medical professionals, business leaders, public safety officials and everyone else. If college students are discouraged from going into education, we're all in serious trouble.