October 5, 2009
Statement by Randi Weingarten,
President, American Federation of Teachers,
On World Teachers’ Day
World Teachers’ Day, celebrated every Oct. 5, has been promoted since 1967 by Education International, UNESCO and other leading organizations as an opportunity to recognize the important work teachers do and to draw attention to crucial issues facing educators worldwide. The theme of this year’s World Teachers’ Day is “Build the Future: Invest in Teachers Now.”
WASHINGTON—“Build the Future: Invest in Teachers Now” is a fitting theme for this year’s World Teachers’ Day. In all countries, teachers play an integral role in providing a solid foundation to their students as well as to their countries’ economies. As leaders from Argentina to Zimbabwe grapple with the world economic crisis, it is more important than ever that they reject cuts to education, which offer only short-term relief yet have lasting effects from which children may never fully recover.
The American Federation of Teachers urges Congress and the Obama administration to make sound investments in education, including teacher recruitment and retention both here and abroad, to improve children’s futures and to restore economic strength. On this World Teachers’ Day, we met with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Michael Posner. We conveyed the AFT’s support for Secretary Clinton’s international efforts to fund essential programs that prevent AIDS, eradicate child labor, educate girls, and combat chronic illness and hunger. Education is one of the most effective tools we have to break the cycle of poverty, deter extremism, and promote a safer and more prosperous world.
The AFT will continue to fight for the right of all students to a free, accessible high-quality education; for the rights of teachers and education professionals to practice their craft free from abuse and to be adequately compensated; as well as for international labor rights, the promotion of democracy and the rule of law. At a time when global economic footing is so tenuous, one of the best investments we can make for our children and their future is ensuring that they have well-prepared and well-supported teachers.
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The AFT represents more than 1.4 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.