National Teacher Day Gives Us a Chance to Say 'Thanks'

Posted by Liz Dwyer

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Today is National Teacher Day, and thanks to the #thankateacher hashtag on Twitter, America's superhero educators are getting the public recognition they deserve. Hundreds of tweets say things like "If you can write your name, #thankateacher," "If you followed your dreams, #thankateacher," and "If you can read, #thankateacher," showing teachers that their hard work matters.

Celebrities are sharing their appreciation, too. Former NBA star and current ESPN analyst Jalen Rose tweeted"Teachers not only have to propel students learning but also have to be baby sitters, counselors, social workers & role models!", while New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow, whose mother was a career teacher,tweeted "To the teacher who taught me what it means to be a teacher: My mama. Everybody’s mama." 

In a recent column, Blow wrote that his mother "cared about her students like they were her own children," to the point that they "dispensed with 'Mrs. Blow' and just called her Mama." Although the nation's schools do need to improve, he says, has "a hard time tolerating people who disproportionately blame teachers for our poor educational outcomes" while ignoring the systemic impact of non-school factors like poverty and homelessness.

The nation's teachers need our support. A recent national survey of educators shows just 44 percent are satisfied with their jobs, down from 59 percent in 2009. A Twitter hashtag can't solve the huge problems of job insecurity and low paychecks, but as Blow says, "a little social media appreciation once a year" doesn't hurt. 

National Teacher Day got its start after Arkansas teacher Mattye Whyte Woodridge sent a letter to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt asking for a day to honor educators. So in 1953, Roosevelt persuaded Congress to proclaim the first National Teacher Day. You never know who will be reading your tweet, and if politicians see the public supporting teachers, it just might make them more likely to change the laws that contribute to making teaching such a thankless job.