Guest Blogger: Richard D. Lamm, Governor of Colorado 1975-1987
Let me suggest that there is a single thing you can do in your new role to improve education in Colorado, that won’t cost much money, doesn’t require legislative approval and is not controversial. It is also simple: find ways to say “Thank You” to teachers and other educators. Let them know how valuable they are to you and to America’s future.
A motivated workforce is a successful workforce. If you are running a business or small organization, it is relatively easy to build a team and let people know you appreciate and value their work. But the larger an organization or business the more difficult it is to say “Thank You” and “Good job!” I thought a lot about how to say thank you to Colorado’s teachers and public employees. Both groups are composed of a large number of employees who too often labor below the radar but are of immense value to our society.
Napoleon, who had no trouble losing 50,000 soldiers in a single battle, once said “I can make men die for little pieces of ribbon. Cynical but true. From Purple Hearts to Medals of Honor, the military finds way to recognize sacrifices and good service.
I believe that teachers are the single most important profession in America. We don’t lack lawyers or MBAs and those professions are in no way as important to our future as our teachers. The nation that is second best in education, will soon be second best (or worst) economically. Teachers hold the future of our nation in their hands and in their classrooms. They spend long hours in school then additional long hours at home preparing lesson plans and grading homework and preparing lesson plans. It is the definition of a “thankless” task, long hours, hard work, little recognition.
Let’s raise the status and visibility of our teachers! Let’s better let them know how important they are to America. In addition to the Teacher of the Year, which already exists, you could hold a small reception in the Governor’s Mansion to honor an exceptional teacher every month. Invite all the teachers in his/her school. You have not a budget for such a project, but use the power of your office to get one or more service clubs to fund a two hour coffee reception six to ten times a year. I was slow in learning the power of inviting people to the Governor’s mansion. Like Napoleon’s Ribbons an invitation to the mansion is simple, inexpensive and symbolic.
A motivated workforce is an organizations most valuable asset. A “esprit de corps” where people know that they are an indispensable link in America’s future and that society honors their work. Low cost, high impact, overdue.