In 2020, Teachers Are the Heroes

December 22, 2020

It’s time again to look ahead to the new year, but also reflect. This year is different, putting years past into a new perspective. 

Since my NPR Nantucket radio show and podcast, Cross Currents, launched four years ago, I have had the honor of interviewing more than 100 boldface personalities from all sectors of society — politics, business, the media, education, health, and lifestyle. In 2020, we quite naturally placed the pandemic and the political upheaval front and center to help listeners gain new insight on and explore the nuances of our most pressing issues.

As all of us navigate a world that has been turned upside down by COVID-19, the economic crisis, and racial inequality, I wanted to reflect on some of the most compelling conversations from the Cross Currents shows we produced this year. 

Any chronicle of 2020 has to have education — from early childhood through higher ed — near the top. Especially this year, the real hero in education is the teacher. As with other fields that we’ve come to appreciate more during this pandemic, we, as a society, are realizing we have not invested in educators in relation to their value. 

I am reminded of an interview I had two years ago with American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten that was far-ranging but came down to a basic truth: We need to do more to support our teachers. Her comments then, summarized in this short clip, are even more relevant today.

We should stand in awe of the pivotal role teachers play in society, particularly their valiant efforts to keep our kids learning even in the darkest days of the pandemic. As we look ahead to a new administration in Washington and continue to push through the pandemic, I hope there will be renewed respect for front-line professionals, including the millions of teachers who are persevering through very trying circumstances to not only keep kids on track academically, but also help build citizens and leaders for the future. 

Looking ahead, I’m certain education will continue to frame our important conversations, along with health care, the economy, equity, the arts and, yes, politics. Until then, take a listen to my show, streaming on your favorite channels (search NPR Cross Currents with Scott Widmeyer) or at https://soundcloud.com/nprcrosscurrents.

 

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