This week is American Education Week, a project of the country’s largest teachers union, the National Education Association. According to the NEA:
American Education Week—November 17-21—presents all Americans with a wonderful opportunity to celebrate public education and honor individuals who are making a difference in ensuring that every child receives a quality education. This year’s theme is "Great Public Schools: A Basic Right and Our Responsibility," and will be reflected in special observances each day of the weeklong celebration.
Elsewhere, the NEA explains the origins of National Education Week:
The National Education Association was one of the creators and original sponsors of American Education Week. Distressed that 25 percent of the country's World War I draftees were illiterate and 9 percent were physically unfit, representatives of the NEA and the American Legion met in 1919 to seek ways to generate public support for education. …
The first observance of American Education Week occurred December 4-10, 1921, with the NEA and American Legion as the cosponsors. A year later, the then U.S. Office of Education joined the effort as a cosponsor, and the PTA followed in 1938.
A special resolution was even introduced in the House of Representatives last week declaring that:
…public schools are the backbone of the Nation’s democracy, providing young people with the tools they need to maintain the Nation’s precious values of freedom, civility, and equality; … public schools give them hope for, and access to, a productive future; … public schools are community linchpins, bringing together adults, children, educators, volunteers, business leaders, and elected officials in a common enterprise…
But what about all the other kinds of schools that contribute to an educated American public? There are:
- Nearly 31,000 private schools enrolling 5.3 million students
- More than 2 million students who are currently homeschooled
- More than 6,000 public charter schools enrolling 2.6 million students
- Some 740,000 student virtual/online course enrollments (with more than 300,000 students taking all their courses online last year)
Celebrating American education shouldn’t be limited to one particular schooling sector. Thanks to advances in the states, parents and their children have an ever-increasing array of education options that increases the likelihood of the best match between schools, students, and their teachers. Meeting students’ individual needs in this way helps them succeed in school and in life.