US President Donald Trump has declared Nov 13 to 17 American Education Week, an annual celebration of the importance of education.
“During American Education Week, we recognize that the foundation of the American Dream is a quality education that instils lifelong skills and develops strong character,” said the president in a statement.
“All our Nation’s children deserve the chance to be successful, to live fulfilling lives, and to give back to our communities. As parents, teachers, and advocates, we recommit to ensuring that all children in America have a meaningful opportunity to harness their full potential.”
American Education Week has run since the 1920s, when around 25 percent of the country’s World War I were found to be illiterate.
At the time, the National Education Association (NEA) called for the week to be “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.”
It has been celebrated the week before Thanksgiving ever since. Teaching staff are encouraged to host parents, political representatives and community members into schools, as well as celebrate the contribution of substitute teachers and non-teaching school staff.
“We must equip students with the tools and skills they need to succeed in the workforce of tomorrow,” said Trump, who said he had directed the Department of Education to prioritise high-quality STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education.
The Trump administration has been widely criticised for its education policy, helmed by US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, which has pushed for the establishment of more privately-owned charter schools at the expense of public schools.
“We must protect parents’ access to a wide range of high-quality educational choices, including strong public, charter, magnet, private, online, parochial, and homeschool options,” said Trump’s statement over the weekend.
A recent study from the American Federation of Teachers and Badass Teachers Association found that teachers were reporting higher stress levels and lower job satisfaction under the leadership of Trump and DeVos.