It’s Teacher Appreciation Week. If We Truly Appreciate Teachers, We Need to Fight For Them.
Candles and gift cards and kudos are nice and they are well deserved, but if we truly want to show our appreciation for teachers, it’s time we showed up for them, voted for them, fought for them.” John Pavlovitz – 5/7/24

We all have a story we tell ourselves: a sometimes aspirational mythology about what kind of human beings we are, about what truly matters to us, and about how we’re using the one life we’ve been given.

And then, there is the unadorned nonfiction of our daily existence, the unalterable declaration we make by our presence that speaks with great eloquence who we really are.

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week and many of us need to decide where we stand, both figuratively and literally.

Each of us would profess gratitude for our teachers, for the countless ways they sacrifice in order to do vital, path-altering work in conditions that are far from ideal, for pay that is a microscopic fraction of what they deserve. On weeks like this we speak in glowing superlatives about their efforts, we post effusive praise on social media, and we may send our children in with candles or gift cards as a way to express our thanks.

That simply isn’t enough in times like these. They require skin in the game.

When we look at the current nationwide Conservative assaults on critical thinking, on access to information, on vulnerable populations, on entire problematic periods of this nation’s history—fully in their crosshairs are America’s public school teachers.

They are enduring ever more dire working conditions due to the incessant Republican culture wars which have now spilled over into incendiary school board meetings, library pillaging, syllabi redactions, theatrical production cancellations, irresponsible charges of grooming, and seemingly endless legislative salvos designed to gradually choke out a system that is the lifeblood of America’s education of children.

As a result, public schools are understandably experiencing an exodus of caring, qualified, passionate educators who are finding the conditions intolerable; those who are prematurely retiring from their life’s work because the personal toll is beyond what they can bear.

This is by design.

As Republicans continue to drain public schools from financial and human resources in an effort to privatize and commandeer education, engineering the flight of teachers unwilling to consent to their draconian restrictions is essential.

We are losing thousands of dedicated educators who prioritize teaching the whole of American history, valuing the tangible discoveries of Science, creating diverse learning environments, and making schools places where all children can walk safely and confidently into the most authentic version of who they

If we share those priorities, you and I need to move our values from aspiration to incarnation.

We need to show up for teachers now in measurable ways.
We need to make our presence felt in our local school board meetings, at PTA gatherings, at our local elected officials’ offices, and in conversations with our neighbors, coworkers, and church friends.
We need to show up on school spirit nights, parent-teacher conferences, and
events that support and celebrate public school teachers.

Most of all, we need to show up at the polls.

We cannot allow a predatory Republican party that is antithetical to public education to have greater power over our schools and those who call them home. We have to reject the rising Evangelical influence that seeks to legislate the Bible over Biology and to erase LGBTQ children, whitewash American History, and establish theocracy in public school classrooms.

Public school teachers on the front lines for the battle for our collective goodness.

Candles and gift cards and kudos are nice and they are well deserved, but if we truly want to show our appreciation for teachers, it’s time we showed up for them, voted for them, fought for them.