“I wanted to go into education, but I couldn’t make the cut. So now I’m a surgeon.”
Yeah, I’ve never heard that said either. Yet, given your extraordinary influence over our nation’s future, it amazes me that the nation’s top talent is not five-deep on the bench waiting for the honor of becoming a principal. It amazes me that our profession—education in general and the principalship specifically—is not regarded as a profession of choice.
The 2018 Phi Delta Kappa’s Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools revealed that even as more Americans continue to say they have high trust and confidence in teachers, a majority of Americans say they don’t want their own children anywhere near the education profession. Why? Parents see teachers forced to go on strike for adequate pay. They read Time magazine’s cover article about teachers forced to work multiple jobs and sell their plasma to make ends meet. This year, 390,000 of your classrooms opened without a qualified teacher—not because the bar is so high, but because interest is so low. Our nation doesn’t realize we’re putting our own future in jeopardy. We seem perfectly comfortable with the irony of routing young talent away from the one profession that makes all other professions possible.
And do you know who suffers the most? Students in high-minority schools are twice as likely as their white peers to have inexperienced teachers. And, there is a two-thirds less chance that a high-minority school even has a calculus class. We leave an absurd amount of human potential on the table in communities of color and high-poverty communities.
This reality is unsustainable. That’s why the NASSP Board of Directors recently adopted formal positions that our nation must make it a priority to curtail the teacher shortage and amplify teacher quality. As we begin the new year, NASSP resolves to advance this agenda in the national conversation. I thank you all for the model of educator excellence you provide.
Best wishes for a successful and joy-filled 2019!
Executive Director, NASSP