For LEE Member Jake Boyd, elevating the teaching profession and making an impact for students are two things that go hand in hand.
As the son of teachers, a former teacher and someone about to embark on a trip to Taiwan to study the culture of the teaching profession in East Asia, Jake believes that “if your society doesn’t value teachers you are by proxy not valuing students” which leads to big problems.
“This is one of the most, if not the most important jobs, yet the profession isn’t attracting the people it needs -- our kids need -- for a number of reasons,” he says.
His thinking is grounded in his own experience. Jake’s time in the classroom, he says, made him “understand how important the job is, how difficult it is, and how under-incentivized it is from a societal standpoint.”
Jake’s commitment to educational equity was forged in New Orleans as a student at Tulane University studying Political Economy. And it was during his time there, after living, working and interacting with the community, when he decided to teach.
“When I was about to graduate from college, I looked around at all my peers who did really well in their undergrad, and they were either trying to get jobs in finance, go to med school, go to law school, or go to Silicon Valley,” he remembers.
“Nowhere in that equation did being a teacher align with high performing college students, which in my mind just made no sense.”
The problem, Jake says, is a misalignment between the critical role teachers play in student success and existing incentives to enter the classroom -- a misalignment he believes can be fixed by making teaching a more appealing profession.
The effect, he argues, could be a “game-changer.”
“I think a huge lever for improving education in America could be elevating the teacher profession so that it’s a whole different ball game.”
After spending the summer working on Capitol Hill as a fellow for U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, widely recognized as a leader in federal K-12 issues, Jake is now preparing for a trip to Taiwan, where he will spend a year as a Fulbright Scholar teaching and conducting research into the differences between the culture of the teaching profession in the U.S. and East Asia.
Jake’s hope is that someday “teaching becomes a really respected and prestigious career that the best and the brightest strive for,” as is currently the case in countries like Taiwan.
The result, he thinks, would be an influx of resources and brainpower into the profession, which, in turn, could elevate teaching as a career that attracts the best and brightest.
“I think if we were somehow able to change the culture around who we believe teachers should be and how we value teachers, he says.
“That would be so impactful for students,” he says. And perhaps, truly change the game.
Want to be like Jake and use your teacher voice to stand up for what you believe in? Check out our toolkit on developing your teacher voice.