American Education Week is celebrated the week prior to the week of Thanksgiving each year. This year, parents, media representatives, and the general public took part in a variety of activities to support and bring attention to the American public school system and its teachers.
The planning of this annual weeklong event began in 1919 in response to the alarmingly high illiteracy rates in our nation’s draftees for World War I. The National Education Association and the American Legion convened to discuss a way to increase public support for education.
As a result of that collaborative process, the organizations agreed to launch and promote a week that would focus on public school systems, including a celebration of their teachers and accomplishments, and outreach for further community support and involvement. In December 1921, the first-ever American Education Week was celebrated. Other major organizations, including the U.S. Office of Education and the Parent-Teachers Association, joined the effort in the years immediately following its launch.
Now, nearly 100 years later, the annual event is going stronger than ever. Major sponsors include the National School Boards Association and the American Association of School Administrators.
In his 2013 proclamation, President Obama cited education as “a pillar of democracy and a cornerstone of American opportunity.” Those who are looking to get involved with their local public school should reach out to school administrators and find a way to contribute. By the time American Education Week arrives next November, individuals who join the effort now will have already made a difference.