U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley today joined NEA President Dennis Van Roekel, visiting Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Md., to celebrate American Education Week. The education leaders addressed the need to attract more bright young people into the teaching profession.
NEA President Dennis Van Roekel challenged Blair students to consider teaching as a career.
“Being a teacher is challenging and exciting work,” he said. “Every day is different; every day presents a new challenge or requires a new creative solution. Educators love their work because they are preparing you students to have the most successful future possible.”
American Education Week, held November 14-20, honors teachers and support professionals who have dedicated themselves to the education of young people. Celebrated the week prior Thanksgiving, AEW began in 1921 as a way to generate public support for education at a time when illiteracy was a major problem.
“I am honored to join the NEA this week in celebrating our nation’s teachers during American Education Week,” Duncan said. “With more than a million teachers expected to retire in the coming years, we have a historic opportunity to transform public education in America by calling on a new generation to join those already in the classroom. We are working with the broader education community to strengthen and elevate the entire teaching profession so that every teacher has the support and training they need to succeed.”
Duncan has been speaking to students across the country, encouraging them to consider a career in teaching. His outreach is part of the U.S. Department of Education’s TEACH campaign, an initiative designed to raise the profile of the teaching profession and to inspire a new generation of teachers.
O’Malley spoke about the importance of investing in public education.
“In Maryland, we have worked to protect our investments in education,” he said. “Even in tough economic times, because we understand its importance to every community and every family. We’ve worked with our Maryland teachers to create the No. 1 public school system in the nation two years in a row. Public education is the cornerstone of our democracy, and especially in these difficult times, we must remember that it is also the key to moving our economy forward and the key to our future.”
O’Malley received the 2010 America’s Greatest Education Governor Award from NEA during the Association’s Annual Meeting in July. The prestigious award is presented each year to a governor who has made major statewide efforts to improve public education. Maryland’s public schools are some of the best in the country. In Montgomery County, the largest school district in the state, for example, students score among the top in the country on Advanced Placement examinations.
Besides O’Malley, Maryland State Sen. Jaime Raskin, Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Jerry D. Weast, Maryland State Education Association President Clara Floyd and Executive Director David Helfman, and Montgomery County Education Association President Doug Prouty attended.
“This week, we are recognizing the important role that public education plays in the future of our society,” Weast said. “We must continue to be the champion for the teachers and staff who are working so hard on behalf of our students and continue to invest in resources and strategies that best serve the needs of our children. It is a privilege for us that Secretary Duncan, Gov. O’Malley and NEA President Van Roekel spent today talking with our students about how they can make a difference in education for future generations. The Board of Education and I appreciate their continued commitment to public education.”
American Education Week’s 2010 tagline, Great Public Schools: A Basic Right and Our Responsibility, is a reminder that all Americans must do their part to help create great public schools for every student. To find out more about American Education Week, visit www.nea.org/aew or contact your local public school.
“American Education Week serves as a tribute to the team of people who work with our students, everyone from the classroom teacher and the bus driver to the cafeteria worker and the administration staff—plus countless others,” said Van Roekel. “We honor and thank them for the work they do every day to make sure that our students are safe and ready and able to learn.”
Photo: Benjamin Myers/NEA