Our Opinion: Celebrating education

Today is the first day of an important observance in the United States. This is American Education Week – a time to celebrate the fact that our nation’s public education system is available to each and everystudent, regardless of their social, financial or other circumstances.

American Education Week was launched in 1921 in the wake of World War I. Representatives of the National Education Association and the American Legion met in 1919 to discuss the fact that 25 percent of the nation’s WWI draftees were illiterate and 9 percent were physically unfit. The organizations’ goal was to generate public support for education to combat those issues in the future.

That effort has grown over the decades, and today co-sponsors include the U.S. Department of Education, the National PTA, the American Legion and Auxiliary, the American Association of School Administrators, the National School Boards Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the American School Counselor Association and many others.

This year’s campaign states that American Education Week honors students’ determination to learn; recognizes the professionalism and dedication of teachers, support staff, and other educators; thanks parents and members of the community who help students succeed; and rededicates the community at large to quality public education for every student.

“American Education Week serves as a tribute to the team of people who work with our students — everyone from the classroom teacher and the bus driver to the cafeteria worker and the administration staff — plus countless others,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García.

President Donald Trump signed a proclamation designating this week as American Education Week this year. It states, in part: “During American Education Week, we recognize that the foundation of the American Dream is a quality education that instills lifelong skills and develops strong character. All our Nation’s children deserve the chance to be successful, to live fulfilling lives, and to give back to our communities.”

That is true – all children deserve the opportunity and support to enable them to reach their full potential. Therefore, we urge our readers to take a few minutes this week to appreciate the role public education plays in our society and to consider ways in which they can support that system, its staff and students.