Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Spellings Report: The Secretary Takes Her Time

As we noted here on Tuesday, May 3rd, Teacher Appreciation Week was May 1-7. At the time that I wrote the May 3rd post, there was no mention of "Teacher Appreciation Week" over at the Department of Education web site.

The Department's site only commemorated National Charter Schools Week. (Also May 1-7, note the posting date.)

We think that Secretary Margaret Spellings forgot all about "Teacher Appreciation Week."

Perhaps the Secretary is a reader of the 'Wonks, because on Thursday, May 5th, the Secretary released this (somewhat late) letter dedicated to the nation's teachers:

To Our Nation's Teachers In Recognition of Teacher Appreciation Week May 1-7, 2005

I am pleased to join our nation in recognizing you for your remarkable dedication to our students and your tireless efforts in support of education. It is fitting that we take time each year during Teacher Appreciation Week to thank our teachers -- as the work you do has a tremendous and very direct effect on the lives of young people. As President Bush has said, "There's nothing more noble than to teach."

During my first few months as U.S. Secretary of Education, I have traveled throughout our great country and listened to teachers share stories about the status of education in their communities. I have also seen how the No Child Left Behind Act is making a positive difference for so many students, particularly those from underprivileged circumstances. Student achievement is on the rise and the learning gap is starting to narrow. It is because of committed and effective teachers that we will make No Child Left Behind work for all children.

Over the past 20 years, I have been privileged to be involved in education at many different levels, but it is as a mother of school-aged children that I am most aware of the extra effort our teachers make to help all children grow and learn. You are helping to build a stronger nation, a better world, and a brighter future.

Please accept my deep appreciation and gratitude for your work on behalf of our nation's children.

Margaret Spellings

Words are cheap, Madame Secretary. For the past few years, the level of performance that I'm expected to deliver in the classroom has steadily increased.

And yet the purchasing power of my paycheck has steadily decreased due to the fact that teachers in our mid-sized California school district have had no salary increase whatsoever for the past three years.

Yet our test scores have continued to rise.

Perhaps we can overlook the Secretary's (probable) lapse in memory, and her tardy "appreciation" letter, but what explanation does my junior high school's administration have for also overlooking "Teacher Appreciation Week?"

Ms. Spellings and our District's Superintendent, Dr. Evil, could begin to make amends by coming into my overcrowded classroom and teaching a couple of sessions with 35 unruly students while I get a chance to sit down and enjoy one restaurant-served lunch.
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