Commentary by Dallas Shelby
This week is Teacher Appreciation week. A couple years ago, parents throughout the community got a very real look at just how much there was to appreciate. Our schools were closed, and parents were forced to take on a more active role in our children’s education. If you are like me, you spent a lot of time sitting at your kitchen table with your head in your hands pleading with your child to please, please just try to focus on her math facts.
That was then. In the last year, we’ve seen marches and protests and letters to the editor and countless heated debates about our teachers, but these measures only seem to have made matters worse.
The simple fact is we are losing teachers at an alarming rate, and the trend will very likely only worsen.
A survey done by Indiana State University’s Bayh College of Education found that almost all of Indiana’s school districts (97 percent) have reported teacher shortages. According to a national survey by RAND, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization, 1 in 4 teachers are considering leaving their job by the end of this school year.
I am a board member of the Carmel Education Foundation, an organization that provides college scholarships for high school seniors and innovation grants for educators. During the past few years, it has been a challenge for us to award scholarships for students pursuing a career in education because of so few applicants.
If this trend continues, we may all be back at our kitchen tables with our heads in our hands.
To celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week, we should absolutely show our appreciation to teachers. More important, I think we should take this opportunity to raise up the profession of teaching when so many are tearing it down.
Teachers make a difference. Teachers change lives. Teachers guide and support our children as they learn and grow. The work of these educators has ripple effects that extend beyond the classroom, enriching the entire community.
So many of us have stories of teachers who have had an impact on our lives. Please, share your stories. Together, we can raise up these teachers and all of those who dedicate themselves to bettering the lives of our children.
Dallas Shelby is a nonprofit consultant and vice president of the board of directors of the Carmel Education Foundation.