Teachers are the backbone of our democratic society. They prepare children to read, write, think critically, innovate, collaborate, lead, and take on the challenges of the world. Unfortunately, teaching has gotten a bad rap lately and, as a result, fewer young people and career-changers are pursuing teaching as a vocation.
Illinois is experiencing a teacher shortage, as are many other states across the country. This troubling trend means some students do not have licensed, fully qualified teachers in their classrooms. This is a serious concern because research shows the expertise of teachers is the strongest predictor of positive student learning outcomes.
We need to give teachers the respect they deserve as professionals. We need to change perceptions of teaching by focusing more attention on the dedicated and effective teachers in our schools and acknowledging the many contributions they make to students’ lives and to our communities. We need to urge our legislators to fully fund our schools and to support a living wage for teachers.
What other profession allows you to experience daily the joy of discovery? Or to see the impact of your work this morning or this afternoon, knowing it will carry on forever? Every single day, teachers learn, challenge, spark curiosity, beam with pride, confirm that the future is in great hands, and help children succeed and become their best selves.
If you or someone you know is looking for a profession that will change not only your life or theirs but also the lives of others in positive and meaningful ways, encourage them to become a teacher.
I’m Laurie Elish-Piper, and that’s my perspective.