In Honor Of Teacher Appreciation Week, #ThankATeacher By Showing Support For What Matters Most

National Teacher Appreciation Day is May 9, but we should celebrate teachers every day.

When you consider today's economic climate, it almost seems hypocritical to celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week because, in reality, we should be honoring these invaluable individuals every single day of the year. Instead, so many American teachers struggle with insufficient wages, outdated textbooks, and decrepit classrooms, while our nation's leaders continue to cut education funding. Yet, while greeting card companies demand we gift teachers apple-shaped paperweights and "No. 1 Teacher" wind chimes, there are far better ways to celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week today and every day.

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If you truly want to #ThankATeacher, as the hashtag suggests, bypass the coffee mugs and stuffed animals at the store and embrace the following suggestions below:

Fight for every teacher's right to a living wage.

In recent months, teachers across the country have abandoned their classrooms to protest insufficient wages. Not only are they often forced to take on two jobs, but many must also foot the bill for supplies, as most school systems lack the necessary funds to provide these materials themselves. As The Economist writes, "The average American teacher earns less than 60 [percent] of what a similarly educated professional makes. In inflation-adjusted terms, teachers' salaries have fallen by 1.6 [percent] over the past two decades."

While teachers protest, students might be deprived of their education in the moment, but without these demonstrations, the future of students' education will remain in limbo indefinitely.

Support candidates that advocate for education.

With Education Secretary Betsy DeVos at the helm, our nation's future looks rather grim. As The Washington Post writes, "The department's workforce has shrunk under Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who has said she wants to decrease the federal government's role in education, including investigations and enforcement of civil rights in schools. In all, the department has shed about 350 workers since December — nearly 8 percent of its staff — including political appointees. With buyouts offered to 255 employees in recent days, DeVos hopes to show even more staff the door." 

But, by supporting educators and education advocates who are seeking office during the upcoming mid-term elections, we can make our intentions known by voting for those who truly wish to put teachers and students at the heart of education policy.

Promote funding that'll arm teachers with supplies, not weapons.

Most teachers must pay for classroom supplies out of their own pocket, yet the current White House administration has entertained the idea of arming teachers with guns to protect against any and all future mass shootings. Instead of allowing these so-called leaders to pass the buck and further fund the NRA's agenda, support initiatives that aim to increase funding for school supplies and classroom materials, as these educators don't want to wield firearms at school in the first place.

Thank your teachers for all they've done and continue to do each day.

While we might not be able to provide all the funds teachers deserve, we are capable of giving credit where credit's due. Don't withhold your praise and gratitude until Teacher Appreciation Week rolls around each year. Show teachers how much you value their contributions by saying "thank you" whenever the feeling strikes. Despite the struggles, these resilient individuals show up day after day, and demonstrating your support -- even if only in spirit -- can go a long way in fueling their resolve to put the fate of our nation's future first in the face of an uncertain present.

Cover image via nappy / Pexels

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