Better Education Means Teacher Recognition

apple-256261_960_720How do we catalyze significant progress in education? What increases the nation’s high school graduation rate, narrows achievement gaps, and helps young people, minorities in particular, attend college?


According to a recent study, about five percent of teachers feel their voices are heard and valued within their district. Two percent think their voices matter on a national level. And one-third of teachers feel completely unheard by their district.

That’s a problem. Teachers need to be heard, supported, and valued in order to optimize students education in addition to keeping schools, programs and policies effective.

The Education Department understands that failing to support teachers voices and value their expertise in the classroom has “deep implications,” the most critical is being retaining teachers. So, in 2014, the Education Department teamed up with the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards to create Teach to Lead.

The initiative aims to improve the quality of education on a national scale through the expansion of teacher leadership opportunities. According to former Education Secretary Arne Duncan, teachers are leading students and schools through a transition period: one that includes higher standards, better assessments, and more personalized learning. And while their leadership is critical, it definitely is not easy.

Schools and districts are making fundamental shifts in education culture, giving teachers a “more central role” in structuring the policies that affect their careers. On June 29th of 2015, the U.S. Education Department released a fact sheet elaborating on the initiative in hopes to gain motivation to support the expansion of the teacher empowerment initiative. A press release also highlighted the existing district and state systems currently supporting teacher leadership, shared available resources for providing new teacher leadership opportunities.

This progress has all be made possible because, nationwide, teachers are adopting more crucial leadership roles inside their classrooms to improve students education as a whole. The idea behind Teach to Lead is that by placing more value in teachers and the role they play will spill out into other facets, like highly-attended after-school programs, effective policies, and an overall higher quality of education.

The first step in acknowledging their voices? “Teachers deserve our sincerest thanks,” said Duncan.

Why a Woman’s Education is the Most Valuable Thing

There is an old African proverb that reads “If you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a family (nation).” And that proverb holds true today.

woman with books

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

The importance of an education for women on this planet is paramount; by giving them the tools they need to survive and flourish will help them overcome sexist laws and constraints they may face depending on their location. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has even gone so far to regard female education a “silver bullet” in terms of empowering women and making progress with gender equality.

Here are a few reasons why female education is so important to everyone:

Helps put a stop to human trafficking. According to the United Nations Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking, those who are the most vulnerable to fall victim to human trafficking rings are often undereducated and living below the poverty line. By simply educating women in fundamental skills and offering different opportunities, the human trafficking industry, which is currently valued at $32 billion annually, can be significantly reduced.

Smart family planning. Educating women has led to a reduction in accidental pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases and infections, and are three times less likely to contract HIV when given a primary school education, according to The World Bank. Children of educated mothers double their chances of survival past age five, and the more a woman participates in her education, the smaller her family will most likely be.

Increases income. Education, no matter where you live, boosts your earning potential significantly. In under-developed countries especially, education not only enlightens women to the opportunities they can chase, as well as the tools to execute their dreams. According to research gathered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, just one year in primary school can increase a girls average wage by 20 percent.

Raises the literacy rate. It’s obvious that when children are educated, literacy is one of the first obstacles tackled. In today’s world, it’s nearly impossible to operate any sort of job effectively without knowing how to read, and, of the 163 million illiterate youth on the planet, almost 63 percent of those children are female.



Black Women and the Advancement of Higher Education

Time and time again, it has been proven that educated citizens can tremendously impact society in a positive way, and there has been a push for governments, both on state and national levels, to pledge their commitment to ensuring educational opportunity for all.

Black female student

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Predominantly, the opportunity for education needs to be present for those whom that opportunity has been elusive throughout history. Minorities, particularly women of color, haven’t been afforded the same opportunities for higher education, despite a rich history of their groundbreaking contributions to the cause of education in America.

Here are just a few women of color who have kicked in the schoolhouse door.

Dr. Johnetta Cole

When Dr. Cole was named president of Spelman College in 1987, she became the first black female President of the small liberal arts women’s college, also one of the oldest historically black colleges (HBC) for women in America. Under her leadership, the SAT scores of incoming freshman consistently ranked higher than any other HBC in the nation, earning the college the title as one of the top regional liberal arts colleges in the South by U.S. News and World Report magazine.

Dr. Martha Euphemia Lofton Haynes

After becoming the first black woman to earn her Ph.D. in Mathematics from The Catholic University in Washington, D.C. in 1943, Dr. Haynes then went on to establish the first mathematics department at Miner Teachers College, known today as the District of Columbia Teachers College, and serve as Chair of the Division of Mathematics and Education. In 1966, she played an instrumental role in integrating the DC public school system as the first woman to chair the District of Columbia School Board.

President Shirley Jackson, Ph.D.

Adding to the list of notable women of color who’ve made significant strides for the cause of education, Dr. Jackson was the first black female to receive a doctorate in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1973. Twenty-two years later, she was named the first black person and first woman to serve as chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and was also the first black woman elected to the National Academy of Engineering. To top off her list of impressive firsts, Dr. Jackson became the first black female to lead a major technological institute when in 1999 she was named the President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a position she holds to this day.

College Students Need More Than Money

The human brain is truly an exceptional resource. And when given the right opportunities and adequate support it needs to grow and thrive, the brain can be an amazing investment.

A college education is an invaluable opportunity, and adds a certain edge to those who take it seriously. Historically black colleges, in particular, have managed to produce 18 percent of African-Americans with bachelor’s degrees as well as 25 percent of African-Americans with bachelor’s degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math-related fields.Photo of graduating college students

Three years ago, they were four percent of all four-year colleges and universities in the country, but historically black colleges and universities have been able to master providing their students with both the skills they need as well as the skills society needs them to have. The U.S. Department of Education’s White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities gathered research suggesting that university and college students are optimally served when they complete their degrees on time, persisting through their specific curriculum, and graduating with small or no debts and the ability to find prospective employment opportunities.

The financial burden of a college education is something a majority of U.S. undergraduates are facing today, and even more so within historically black universities and colleges, as their students are primarily first-generation minority students from low-income households. So obviously, something needs to be done to ease the financial strain.

A scholarship as little as $5,000 has the power to increase graduation rate by 7 percent, according to the United Negro College Fund. It’s statistics like those that have pushed companies to invest in students, because they’re ultimately investing in the future. Anheuser-Busch partnered with the UNCF to invest $150,000 in scholarships to support the education and development of 30 exceptional student leaders.

The student leaders, who are all enrolled in historically black colleges and universities, were spotlighted at the Legends of the Crown Leadership Symposium in St. Louis, Missouri earlier this month. The weekend-long event had participants immerse themselves in a community service project, leadership development training, and career-building seminars.

It’s events like the Legends of the Crown Leadership Symposium that highlight the country’s dire need to support our college students more than just financially. Scholarships and adequate financial aid programs aren’t enough, the youths of today needs access to more well-rounded resources and proactive programs so they can become the leaders of tomorrow.


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