National Day of Blogging for Real Education Reform: PDK’s Commitment
Americans love their teachers. This may surprise you given the current media storm surrounding public education. Yet 71 percent of Americans said, when asked in this year’s PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools, that they have trust and confidence in the men and women who teach in the public schools, and 67 percent said they would like a child of theirs to take up teaching, the highest favorable response to this question since we first asked it over 30 years ago. This level of support is not included in recent media coverage.
Americans also understand how important great teachers are to our nation’s schools. In the poll, they told us that the single most important national education program should focus on quality teaching and teachers.
At PDK International we believe that the one of the most important school reform strategies must focus on finding and keeping great teachers. Making no apologies, teachers and principals need to identify and nurture the young people we want to join our profession and to show them how teaching will look very different in the future and as a result be even more rewarding.
Our model of real school reform focuses on providing support and opportunities to educators all along their career path. The PDK family of associations includes the Future Educators Association® (FEA), a student organization that recruits the best and brightest high school students to become the next generation of great educators. FEA particularly focuses on recruiting students from underrepresented populations and those students with high aptitudes in science and math.
In March 2010, the United States Department of Education recognized how important FEA is and granted it status to receive federal Perkins funds, which provides financial support to high school FEA programs across the country. With access to federal dollars many states—including Arizona, West Virginia, North and South Carolina, Delaware, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, and others—are aggressively supporting new FEA classes in partnership with colleges and universities and with affiliates at the National Education Association and the National Association of Secondary School Principals.
PDK’s commitment to recruiting and keeping great teachers does not stop with the Future Educators Association®. Just last month, Pi Lambda Theta (PLT), the colligate honor society for educators with the highest objective standards for membership, joined the PDK family of associations. PLT recognizes and celebrates exceptional academic achievement of undergraduate and graduate education students, and then assists them through those first critical years transitioning to the classroom. After making costly investments in their training, our nation can no longer afford to lose half of our new teachers within the first five years of entering the profession.
Yes, Americans love their teachers, and we know why. In this year’s PDK/Gallup poll, we asked Americans to tell us words that describe the teacher who had the most positive influence in their lives. The top two responses were “caring” and “encouraging.” Educators have the capability to touch the hearts and minds of our nation’s students in ways more profound than what can be measured on standardized tests. Every day, they change lives. That’s why finding and keeping great teachers must be our nation’s number one priority, and why it is PDK’s mission as a great association of education professionals.