“Teachers teach because they care. Teaching young people is what they do best. It requires long hours, patience, and care.” – Horace Mann
It’s Labor Day weekend. You know what that means: BBQs, parades, doorbuster sales, and one last long weekend before the school year really kicks into high gear.
But, as you’re enjoying all the festivities this weekend, be sure to take a moment and remember the real meaning behind the holiday.
Labor Day was declared an official holiday by President Grover Cleveland in 1894, following a period which saw the rapid rise of labor unions as a national political force and in the wake of several labor strikes, disputes, and even violence.
As unions fought for better working conditions and treatment, Labor Day was envisioned as a time to honor the everyday workers who were supporting the growth of a burgeoning economy.
Today, the need to recognize and appreciate the contribution of America’s workers is no less important than it was 100 years ago.
America’s teaching force, for one, finds itself at a crossroads.
Last year’s series of teacher protests and demonstrations signalled a growing willingness among teachers to make their voices heard on issues facing their profession, including stagnant wages and diminishing resources. It also highlighted a simmering frustration among educators that their contributions are sometimes underappreciated.
It’s easy to write-off the work of teachers and school staff as “easy.” Out at 3pm? Summers off? Guaranteed benefits? What’s there to complain about?
But those who work in and around schools know that the work of a teacher never ends–whether school is in or not.
Consider some of these statistics from a recently released infographic from Edgenuity (see below):
- Teachers work an average of 50 hours per week
- Less than 20 percent of teachers get eight hours or more of sleep per night
- Public school teachers spend more than $1.6 billion of their own money on school supplies
Our schools are operating in an era of unprecedented change. With rapidly evolving technology and the questioning of long-held traditions and institutions, the role that teachers play in our children’s lives and in our society has arguably never been more influential. Still, education policies and budgets too often fall short of adequately supporting this incredible responsibility.
This Labor Day weekend, enjoy your hot dogs and pool parties and baseball games. But don’t forget to take a minute to remember the hard workers across the country–especially those teachers and staff who educate our future workers in the face of immense change.