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Teacher Appreciation Week is Marred By Protests; Survey Reveals Teachers Want More Say

Teacher Appreciation Week is Marred with Protests; Survey Reveals Teachers Want More Say

As Teacher Appreciation Week comes to a close, Education World takes a look at the battles that teachers are currently fighting inside and out of the classroom to raise the profession up.

While legislators and district officials routinely criticize teachers for inconveniences caused by protest, they are letting the country know why it’s getting harder and harder to find good and willing candidates to educate our future leaders.

Detroit Teachers Versus Detroit Public Schools Officials

In Detroit Public Schools, years of problems have come to a head and teachers have had enough. On multiple occasions this year, teachers in the thousands called out sick from school to draw national attention to their needs.

Earlier in the year, Detroit teachers demanded attention to school buildings in disrepair. While officials criticized teachers back then for using sick-outs to gain attention, all was not lost as significant action was taken. Inspectors went around to schools within the district to determine what needed to happen to improve learning and working conditions.

More recently, teachers used sick-outs to protest word from officials that the district might not be able to pay them their earned salaries past June 30. It took two days of protest before Emergency Manager Steven Rhodes guaranteed teachers would be paid, but shortly after Rhodes criticized teachers for keeping students out of the classroom and “puzzling” legislators voting on a budget proposal that has been called “life-saving” for the district.

As a district, Detroit Public Schools has been shrinking for years in both numbers of students and teachers. Detroit teachers are not only working tirelessly in the classroom- they’re also waging a war to get their voices heard.

D.C. Teachers Demand First Collective Raise in Years

Washington D.C. teachers demanded this week that the D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson finally strike a deal to negotiate a contract with the Washington Teachers’ Union so that they can receive their first collective raise since 2012, when the last contract expired.

"Elizabeth Davis, president of the Washington Teachers’ Union, said the teachers are fighting for retroactive pay raises and a significant hike going forward. She said the school system in recent negotiations offered only a 1 percent raise starting in two academic years, which the union rejected,” said The Washington Post.

Survey Reveals 94 Percent of Teachers Don’t Feel as If They Have a Voice 

Given the turmoil that’s occurring between teachers and officials in some of the nation’s largest school districts, it doesn’t come as a shock that a survey gathering educator opinions revealed a lot of negativity.

Most educators (94 percent) said they don’t feel as if they have a voice in either state or federal discourse, while nearly half say they would leave their profession immediately if a higher paying job opportunity comes around.

Teacher Appreciation Week is a good thing, and teachers deserve the appreciation they receive from companies, organizations, friends and family throughout the week. 

(Unless it’s from a controversial district official. In that case, save it!)

But one week of appreciation isn’t enough--it’s time to make a national initiative to improve teacher satisfaction in the profession starting with taking into account what teachers have to say.

Nicole Gorman, Education World Senior Contributor


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