The History of American Education Week

Samaya Sinha
Staff Writer

Each year, schools across the nation participate in American Education week. American Education week began with the collaboration of the National Educational Association and the American Legion in 1919. The members of these two groups had realized that approximately twenty-five percent of the World War I soldiers were illiterate and approximately nine percent of these soldiers were physically unprepared or unfit for their jobs. Thus, both the National Educational Association and the American Legion began their campaign to spread public awareness and gain public support by creating American Education Week. The first American Education week occurred in 1921 in the month of December. Eventually, more educational organizations became interested in American Education week, choosing to cosponsor the event. Today, a few cosponsors include: the U.S. Department of Education, the National PTA, the American Association of School Administrators, the National School Boards Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the American School Counselor Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers, the National School Public Relations Association, and the National Association of the State Boards of Education.
More specifically, American Education week consists of Education Support Professionals Day, Substitute Educators Day, Parents Day, and Educator for a day. Education Support Professionals Day consists of celebrating the successes of teachers and school professionals across the nation. In fact, this year for American Education Week, the U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, visited the John Adams Elementary School (in Alexandria, Virginia) in order to demonstrate their thanks for the education workforce of the nation. The Substitute Educators Day serves to set goals with respect to the substitute teachers. The Substitute Educators Day aims to increase the respect given to substitute teachers, supports the need for substitute teachers to receive wage and health benefits, and supports the need for substitute teachers to receive instruction in teaching. Following the Substitute Educators Day is the Parents Day, where parents are invited to observe the classroom environment to which their children are exposed. Finally, the Educator for a Day gives community members the opportunity to “become a teacher for a day” and take on the responsibilities of a teacher in order to understand what it would be like to become a teacher.
It is indeed estimable that American education has so greatly improved and progressed since the First World War. However, these education standards must continue to rise.