A day meant for appreciating educators has sparked controversy and some skepticism, largely in connection with ongoing debates around teacher pay, underfunded school systems, and standardized testing, to name a few.
Ironically, Teacher Appreciation Week 2016 has promoted some educators and teacher advocates to express their frustrations through news outlets, blogs, and social media in recent days, pointing out the ungratefulness they feel teachers incur on all other days of the year.
In a post yesterday entitled, “It’s Teacher Appreciation Week! Beware Of False Praise,” education historian and activist Diane Ravitch questioned how much teachers are really valued in our society, despite the expressions of gratitude pouring into schools this week and circulating on social media.
“Many states continue to pursue ways of limiting teacher pay, increasing class size, or otherwise manipulating the conditions of teaching without improving them,” Ravitch says. “What does it mean to appreciate teachers? It means respecting their professionalism.”
Many more have taken to Twitter, expressing their dismay over several education issues, including the ongoing teacher strikes in Detroit.
The sad truth is, many US teachers are woefully under appreciated & grossly underpaid for the important work they do #TeacherAppreciationDay
— Jonathan H. Gray (@jongraywb) May 3, 2016
— Gina Wilson, NBCT (@GinaWilsonNBCT) May 3, 2016
Going to a job that makes you teach kids things they’ll neither use nor appreciate takes admirable strength. Happy #TeacherAppreciationDay!
— Linnetsburg Guy (@Linnetsburg) May 3, 2016
— Jelmer Evers (@jelmerevers) May 3, 2016
That’s not to say that teachers don’t deserve or appreciate genuine expressions of gratitude and recognition of their impact. Last year, middle school teacher Jennifer Wolfe offered some examples of tokens of appreciation she finds gratifying. They’re worth resurfacing today.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.