Last May, when I talked to National Education Association President Becky Pringle for Teacher Appreciation Week, she told me the government and families need to support teachers more. But increased pay isn’t the only way to show that support.
“They talk about working conditions, and time to meet with parents, and provide that individual attention, so what they talk about is that we need more,” she explained. Times have changed, Pringle said, and it’s time to find new ways to support teachers and our students.
Throughout 2023 as I reported on everything from strengthening the Black educator pipeline to educating foster children, I often reflected on that conversation. As we start 2024 with the same issues facing Black students and teachers, that interview — and Pringle’s dedication to eliminating inequities — makes me think of all the things I want to see in public education. It’s a long list, but let’s start with these three:
1. Boost Entrepreneurship Education
Studies on teachers working harder for less pay, and the rise of programs funneling students toward higher-paying careers strengthen my desire to see mandatory entrepreneurial courses implemented in middle and high schools. These courses can teach youth how to start a business and provide in-depth training for financial planning for their careers. Plus, with advancements in artificial intelligence predicted to alter 80% of jobs in some way, students should get ahead of the possible threat of unemployment by having the necessary skills to develop, market, and succeed under their own creations.
For example, last fall 14-year-old Hemen Bekele received the “America’s Top Young Genius,” award for his groundbreaking work in SCTS, which stands for skin cancer treating soap. That shows the possibilities Black students possess both inside the classroom, in the greater world of STEM, and in business.