By Patrick Rodriguez
Editor, Mountain Mail
We’re currently in the middle of American Education Week, which has been observed annually in the United States since 1921, celebrated the week prior to Thanksgiving.
This event is important to me because I once considered a career in education. And in a way I’m glad I didn’t, and you should be too. I wasn’t even aware that there was such a thing as American Education Week until about four days ago, so I probably wouldn’t have made a decent teacher – at least not a history teacher, anyway. Whatever, I blame my teachers for this of course. I’m kidding. Well, sort of.
I did feel pretty stoked, however, after reading some information on the subject, which I will share with you all here. Or if you’d rather read a more convoluted version, you may do so online at the NEA’s website.
This weeklong event began as the brainchild of both the National Education Assn. and the American Legion, due to a growing concern that 25 percent of the country’s World War I draftees were illiterate and that nine percent were physically unfit.
The first observance of American Education Week occurred the week of Dec. 4, 1921, with the NEA and the American Legion as co-sponsors. About a year later the then-U.S. Office of Education joined as a co-sponsor, and the Parent Teachers Assn., fittingly, followed suit in 1938.
In its resolution, the NEA called for “An educational week…observed in all communities annually for the purpose of informing the public of the accomplishments and needs of the public schools, and to secure the cooperation and support of the public in meeting those needs.”
I think that sounds pretty good, a very progressive in way of thinking.
Craig DeYoung, the principal at Soccoro High School, thinks so too.
“It’s important that we set aside a week for honoring those we have chosen education as a career,” said DeYoung, who held the position of executive director at a charter in Silver City before taking his current post at Socorro two years ago. “There’s just been so much negative stuff said about public education in the media, by politicians….It’s been an uphill battle combating all that, with lots of challenges.”
Obviously, DeYoung takes it personally when something negative is mentioned while discussing public education in the United States. “I just like to remind people, especially those who were educated in public schools, that they’re a product of that system,” he said.
Socorro High School did something different for this year’s American Education Week: they made an effort to reach out beyond students, including a parent’s day as part of the school’s list of events for the celebration.
“It’s important that we get more parents involved,” said DeYoung. “It really does start at home.”
And perhaps if my schools had done likewise...Well, I’m just saying.