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NEA President Lily Garcia: We Must Appreciate New Generation of Teachers


Tuesday is National Teacher day. Organizers encourage all students -- past and present -- across the country to thank their teachers.

Apart of National Teacher Appreciation week, organized jointly by the National Education Association (NEA) and the PTA, National Teacher Day is dedicated to thanking educators for the difference they make in their students' lives.

“We have some of the toughest work in the world being a public school teacher," said Lily Garcia, current president of the NEA. "And we're willing to do that; we know what we signed up for. We give blood, sweat and tears, and we make sure our kids get what they need.”

Garcia said Utah is currently experiencing a statewide teacher shortage and a lack of gratitude may be a contributing factor.

"Its harder and harder for us to convince the new generation of teachers that this is work worth doing," she said. "An awful lot of young people come they see they don't have the support they need; they're expected to do everything on their own including, sometimes, paying for supplies out of their own pocket. And they say 'this isn't what I thought.'"

Various districts within the state have responded to the shortage with salary increases for teachers and staff. The state board lowered the hiring standards for new teachers last year. Garcia said that showing thanks may be just as important as a wage bump.

"We've eroded the premise that people understand how important your work is. As we erode that, that generation of good-hearted people will erode as well," said Garcia. "So we have to look at the whole picture: the respect you get, the support you get, the compensation you get, it can't be one against the other; it has to be all of it together."