No Mention of Educators during the 2018 SOTU
By: Liam Goldrick, Director of Policy
More than 50 million students attend and three million teachers work in public schools across America. But they received not a single mention in the President’s State of the Union address last evening.
Classroom teachers are the gatekeepers to a world of learning, knowledge, and experiences for millions of students across this nation. But they received no attention from President Trump in a speech that lasted more than an hour.
Educators – teachers and principals – are the most important school-based influence on student learning – and excellent schools can make or break the life chances especially of low-income students. But k12 education did not factor into last night’s State Of The Union.
An estimated 9,000 American teachers and more than 300,000 high-school students face an uncertain future as a result of the President’s rescinding of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. While immigration reform was mentioned in the State of the Union, action by the President and Congress is long overdue to keep the promise made to these teachers, the students they teach today, and DACA-eligible students themselves.
What we focus on and what we choose to ignore is a statement of our values. The President’s decision to ignore the role of America’s educators and the k12 education system as a whole last evening suggests that teachers and schools are not a priority in his Administration.
Our mission at New Teacher Center (NTC) is to accelerate educator effectiveness through individualized feedback and supportive teaching and learning environments to ensure that all students achieve their potential. It is what we live and breathe every day. We will continue this work, regardless of whether our political leaders champion it or disregard it as a priority, because it makes a difference for students. Last year, a randomized controlled trial found that the students of beginning teachers who participate in the NTC teacher induction model exhibit as much as five months of additional learning in math and English/language arts compared to the students of new teachers who receive typical support from school districts.
The quality of our nation’s teaching force is not just a local concern. It must be a national priority. And teachers deserve recognition through the President’s bully pulpit. Especially today, as so many states and school districts face teacher shortages in specific schools and many subject areas, the federal role in making the teaching profession a more attractive career is all the more critical.
Government is an important partner in the effort to support and sustain our teachers. As we’ve chronicled in our Support From The Start state policy analysis, strong public policies and funding increase the likelihood that teachers can learn and grow on the job – helping students succeed. As we’ve communicated through our policy advocacy, federal funding – especially Title II-A of the Every Student Succeeds Act – provides an investment in the critical work of developing and supporting our nation’s teaching force.
The Trump Administration shockingly proposed zeroing out the more than $2 billion federal investment in teacher development and support in its first budget. Given that, it is perhaps unsurprising that the President did not address our teachers in his speech. While this funding fight is not yet over as Congress has yet to pass a final FY2018 budget, NTC is tremendously thankful for the bipartisan consensus in the U.S. Senate that has defended this important federal investment in our educators.
Moving forward, NTC will continue to work with our allies and partners within the education community to ensure that public funding is directed toward the needs of educators, particularly those working in our most impoverished and disadvantaged communities. Only through a shared, bipartisan commitment will our nation’s schools receive the necessary resources and supportive policies to meet the learning needs of our students.
We desperately need a President who we can count on to be a leader in this effort on behalf of our schools, our teachers, and our students. We are extremely disappointed that he chose not to recognize the hard work of American educators in his 2018 State of the Union address.