The Pentagon in 2009 employed 27,000 people for recruitment, advertising, and public relations for all branches of the military, at a cost of $4.7 billion. No doubt, fulfilling military recruitment quotas is critical for our national security. But there is nothing more important to our homeland security than employing a quality teacher in every classroom.
What if we put in $1 million in Silicon Valley into a public relations campaign to raise the stature of teaching while recruiting the best to the profession?
“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.” —Albert Einstein
“Not only is there an art in knowing a thing, but also a certain art in teaching it.” —Marcus Tullius Cicero
As I embark on the last two years of my term as County School Board Trustee I want to focus my energies on a 2008 platform plank I have yet to fully develop. I want to support the creation of a comprehensive plan to raise the stature of the teaching profession, arguably the most important profession on the planet.
For too long we have let the teaching profession wallow in negativity. Teachers and teaching must receive lots more respect for their role is essential for an informed democracy.
This can be done through a deftly conceived and executed multi-media public relations campaign. Children and community leaders can tell stories about the teachers that made a difference in their life. These stories can be told repeatedly on the radio, television, YouTube, social media, and in print. Pathways to become a teacher can be highlighted. Ivy League Teach For America recruits can tell personal stories about why they stayed in the profession for more than their two-year commitment in the toughest schools in the urban inner city.
To do teaching well it takes an extraordinary talent, intellect, and physical stamina. There is no doubt from my perspective that the preponderance of public school teachers in our valley work tirelessly to see that every child succeeds. The few who make too much while doing too little ruin it for the many. Forty percent of new teachers leave the profession after 3-5 years even though they have achieved tenure status due to lack of support, resources, the inordinate amount of hours, public ridicule and lack of respect for what they do each day.
Through the creative energies in this valley we can reverse this trend. We must increase the number of top tier college graduates that enter the teaching profession here in Silicon Valley. We must do so by beginning to talk about the teaching profession as a meaningful career choice in our high schools. Increasing the number of male teachers must become a critical goal of the campaign. Too many elementary school children do not have a positive male role model figure in their life.
The teacher builds the quality of our future one child at a time. We have all had the teacher who made a difference in our lives by believing in us while they taught us the content and lessons about life. Those teachers knew our interests, weaknesses, and strengths. They artfully helped scaffold the content so we succeeded. Whenever we failed they picked us up to begin again to strengthen the area for which we were weak. The art of teaching at its purest of levels is a little like magic.
Therefore a plan to recruit the best and brightest to the teaching profession through a public relations campaign is critical from my vantage point. I am sickened when I hear friends of mine criticize their children for thinking about teaching as a profession when they return home from college between quarters or semesters. “Why do you want to go into teaching, when you have the knowledge to go into law, medicine, engineering or science and make more money,” they ask.
I urge the Silicon Valley Education Foundation, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, and the Santa Clara County Office of Education to work together to fund this venture. I long for the day when our sons and daughters come home from one of their college breaks and inform their parents they are going into the teaching profession and there are hugs and tears of joy all the way around.
I am willing to be an anchor to get this venture off the ground. If there is interest please contact me at [email protected].
“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” —Henry Brooks Adams