September 15, 1999

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Vol. 19, Issue 02
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The men and women charged with educating the nation's young people occupy a special place in American society. Teaching has long been considered more than just a job--even a calling.
The century was young when the activist Margaret Haley dared to speak from the floor of the National Education Association's convention in Detroit, challenging the assertions made by its president. Teachers, she complained, were grossly underpaid.
In a world that likes to pigeonhole people, Albert Shanker was a paradox.
In 1857, the year the National Education Association was founded, teacher and lecturer William Russell made a bold proposal: Give teachers control over entry into their profession.
Opal McAlister was young, ambitious, and grateful when she took her first teaching job in 1923. One teacher's journey from Calvin Coolidge to Gerald Ford.
If our students are memorizing more forgettable facts than ever before, if they are spending their hours being drilled on what will help them ace a standardized test, then we may indeed have raised the bar--and more's the pity. In that case, school may be harder, but it sure as hell isn't any better.
FOUNDATION SUPPORT: Coverage of specific topics in Education Week is supported in part by grants from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the CME Group Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the NoVo Foundation, the Noyce Foundation, the Raikes Foundation, the Wallace Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation. The newspaper retains sole editorial control over the content of the articles that are underwritten by the foundations. Additional grants in support of Editorial Projects in Education’s data journalism and video capacity come from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust and the Schott Foundation for Public Education. (Updated 1/1/2017)

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