Teaching Profession

Ed Week Turns 35: Teaching-Profession News From Issue One May Sound Familiar

By Madeline Will — September 07, 2016 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Today is Education Week‘s 35th anniversary.

And some of what was covered in Ed Week’s inaugural issue on September 7, 1981, may seem strikingly (maybe even depressingly) familiar to educators today. Here’s a look at some of the stories on the teaching profession back then—and what’s changed and stayed the same.

In 1981, Philadelphia teachers were mulling a strike. After 3,500 teachers were laid off and the school board reneged on a promised 10 percent pay increase, the teachers union threatened to strike unless the cuts were rescinded. (Spoiler: That strike did happen, and it closed schools for 50 days. A fascinating Philadelphia Inquirer article from 2000 talks about how the effects from the strike still lingered at least 20 years later.)

Today, teacher strikes are still prevalent. Just this week, the teachers union in Yuba City, California announced that 700 teachers would strike on Thursday to protest low pay. And a teacher strike is looming in Chicago, where the union is battling with the district over teachers’ pay. A Teaching Now post counted at least 15 strikes in 2015.

About 50,000 teachers across the country were facing layoffs. Certain areas were expecting significant teacher layoffs due to shrinking education budgets. At the same time, other school districts were facing a shortage of math, science, bilingual, and special education teachers.

Today, this is a recurring theme. There are teacher shortages in the same areas—STEM, special education—as there were in 1981. Several states are battling shortages, even as they face education budget cuts that may lead to layoffs. A recent Oklahoman story perfectly illustrates this paradox: Districts are cutting teacher positions while still requesting emergency teacher certificates to fill vacancies, because you can’t necessarily move an English teacher to a science position.

Increasing teacher diversity was on the nation’s mind, at least somewhat. The Educational Testing Service made some major revisions to the now-defunct National Teacher Examination (replaced by Praxis tests) for teacher candidates. The changes, which moved away from simple recall to a focus on everyday knowledge and analysis, were a response to critics who said the test had a cultural bias against black candidates.

Today, building a more diverse teaching workforce is a much more prominent goal—albeit one that will take a long time to reach. Education schools and programs are trying to encourage more people of color to enter (and remain in) teaching, through active recruitment and supports like mentoring. And the Educational Testing Service is still trying to make teacher assessments more relevant—the ETS is working on a new exam to measure teacher-candidates’ ability to execute key aspects of instructions, like leading a class discussion. Meanwhile, a recent study had mixed results on whether new teachers who pass the edTPA licensing test are better teachers.

See other stories from the inaugural issue here. And for more on the internal and external changes facing Education Week on its 35th anniversary, see this post on the blog Education and the Media.

Other Retrospectives:

Follow @madeline_will and @EdWeekTeacher on Twitter.



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

Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Profession Opinion ‘A Culture of Care’: How Schools Can Alleviate Educator Stress This Year
It takes more than deep breathing to alleviate the stress teachers feel. Here's how to get to the root cause.
Sean Slade & Alyssa Gallagher
6 min read
shutterstock 740616958 resized
Teaching Profession Reported Essay Students Aren’t the Only Ones Grieving
Faced with so many losses stemming from the pandemic, what can be done to help teachers manage their own grief?
4 min read
Conceptual Illustration
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
Teaching Profession We Feel Your Grief: Remembering the 1,000 Plus Educators Who've Died of COVID-19
The heartbreaking tally of lives lost to the coronavirus continues to rise and take a steep toll on school communities.
3 min read
090321 1000 Educators Lost BS
Education Week
Teaching Profession Letter to the Editor Educators Have a Responsibility to Support the Common Good
A science teacher responds to another science teacher's hesitation to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
1 min read