The Wisdom, Courage, and Character of Teachers

March 20, 2020

During this uncertain and difficult time, we are heartened (but not surprised) by the dedication, focus, and resolve of educators across the country and around the world. As you have planned for the distribution of food to students during large-scale, long-term closures, moved classes and whole districts online, or spent your hours at home reaching out to your students and their families with educational opportunities and offers of comfort, we are reminded of the wisdom and strength of character that you bring to your work every day. As Lee Iacocca famously observed, “In a completely rational society, the best of us would be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something else.” This sentiment captures what attracts committed educators into the profession, namely, the opportunity to engage in one of our most essential collective, tasks---to make a difference not only in the lives of the students one teaches, but in the course of our society and humanity.

Even in normal times, teaching is enormously complex and challenging work; it is not for the faint of heart or the uncommitted. Teachers enter the profession with empathy, intellectual curiosity, motivation, and a sense of justice. Teaching requires sustained effort over many years to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to take on the multiple challenges that present themselves. Teaching, in other words, merits the best we have.

Our resolve as a society and a profession is being tested, and we are grateful for all of you as you rise to this challenge. We wish you, your families, your students, and your communities good health and peace of mind as you navigate this journey.