Equity & Diversity

5 Teacher Stories You Might Have Missed This Year

By Sarah Schwartz — December 20, 2018 3 min read
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In 2018, teacher activism took center stage. Fed up with low pay and underfunded classrooms, teachers walked out of their classrooms and protested at state capitols in a half-dozen states. Some of these teachers then went on to run for office, translating their demands for the education system to campaign promises and policy platforms.

These issues loomed large in our coverage of teachers this year—and will likely continue to be a big part of the conversation in 2019. While some teachers won in the midterm elections, most of them lost—what does that mean for future teachers on the ballot? After the string of teacher strikes this spring and summer, what will happen next? (For more on the teacher trends that shaped this past year, check out my colleague Madeline Will’s recent post on the teaching profession in 2018, in charts.)

But we didn’t just stick to reporting on strikes and elections. The Teacher team here at Education Week picked out some of our favorite stories this year that weren’t in the national headlines. Here are five stories you may have missed:

1. Latino Male Teachers: Building the Pipeline

The Hispanic student population is the fastest growing in the country, making up about a quarter of K-12 students. But only 9 percent of public school teachers are Hispanic, and only 2 percent are Hispanic men. Teachers who look like their students and share similar backgrounds can be such important role models in the classroom, so how can teacher preparation programs attract more Hispanic men to the profession? This story takes a look at a few programs trying to weave a web of support.

Photo: Nineteen-year-old Angel Magana, seated in the rear of the classroom, is in a Denver teacher-residency program that allows him to work as a paid paraprofessional while working toward his teaching degree. —Nathan W. Armes for Education Week

2. When Strikes Happen, Teachers’ Aides Have the Most to Lose

Most of the attention during this year’s strikes was on the teachers themselves. But support staff workers—including teachers’ aides and paraprofessionals—sometimes had more at stake during walkouts and protests than full-time teachers. Madeline Will’s story digs into how teacher activism affected these educators, who play a critical role in the school systems they work for.

Photo: Brooke Barnett, a secretary at Jackson Elementary School in Norman, Okla., and her 12-year-old daughter, Murphy Barnett, protest at the Oklahoma State Capitol in April during the statewide teacher walkout. —Courtesy of Brooke Barnett

3. For Educators Who Died on the Job, Small Town Offers Big Commemoration

Five educators died in school shootings this year, killed in the tragedies at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., and Santa Fe High School in Texas. This spring, the names of these teachers, administrators, and school staff were added the Memorial to Fallen Educators in Emporia, Kan.—a national commemoration to educators who have died on the job. My colleague Denisa Superville wrote about the history of the memorial, and the significance it holds for victims’ families.

4. Does It Make Sense to Offer Housing Perks for Teachers?

As housing costs in some of the country’s most expensive cities have continued to rise, some districts are trying housing incentives as a way to attract teachers—who often don’t make enough to rent or buy in the pricey neighborhoods where they teach. But is this strategy actually good policy? Education Week’s Liana Loewus examined the evidence.

Image: Getty

5. This Rock Legend Is Combining Teacher PD With Live Music

On Steven Van Zandt’s Teacher Solidarity Tour, teachers were invited to attend a free concert—and accompanying professional development. The rock legend, a member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band and an actor on the HBO show The Sopranos, toured the country this year to promote his foundation’s arts integration curriculum and stand in solidarity with teacher-activists protesting across the country. I joined teachers at his show in Munhall, Pa., and spoke with Van Zandt about his philosophy of education.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.