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The education system may be cooked but there’s still fire teachers out there

2017 has brought upon so many changes in our political and social climate.

We’ve had many shifts in education this year and despite our President doing everything he can to fuck up our school systems even more by appointing people like Betsy DeVos as U.S. secretary of education, educational policies have seen quite a bit of federal support this year. The positives outweigh the negatives by far.

Within the year we’ve seen less use of standardized testing, a decrease in school violence, a decrease in high-school dropouts and an increase in teacher leadership and unionization, which lead to an increase in academic achievement.

Although no official record shows that these refinements are directly linked to our teachers, educators are surely to thank for happier students, a stronger learning environment, and overall successful school year.

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At the end of each year, top teachers around the world are recognized for their contributions to education. The Global Teacher Prize recognizes faculty from all different countries for their groundbreaking achievements in the classroom.

This year, Brian Copes of Thompson High School in Alabaster, Alabama, made it to the top 40 final list, and was acknowledged as January’s Lifechanger of the year.

Brian’s focus on STEM and innovative projects over the years earned his 8th grade students several first place awards in college level competitions. Vehicles, limb prosthetics, and hydroelectric power were among some of their creations.

His students’ creations went towards aid for third world countries such as Honduras, which lead Brian to open up classrooms and sister schools to his own.

“In 2014, he and seven students traveled back to Jutiapa to install solar panels and build a basic utility vehicle that serves as a school bus.”

Mr. Copes also founded a 501c3 non-profit, Sky, which focuses on the advancement of students and STEM centered projects.

The New Teacher Center recognized the correlation between teacher’s involvement and the educational advancement that followed soon thereafter, and listed the number one reason for higher grades to be teacher leadership.

So you mean to tell me involved, dedicated teachers could actually assist students in learning more?

Unfortunately, with our current administration in office, teachers and students are still subject to intense discrimination, with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals no longer being accepted, with over 700,000 teachers and hundreds of thousands of students facing deportation.

An Arizona federal judge who attempted to stop the Mexican American studies program gave birth to a new movement of ethnic studies, while Betsy DeVos gave educators the ability to rescind guidance against transgender students.

Fortunately, we have people like Bill Gates promising $1.7 billion to “shift the educational focus” on building stronger school networks, and Philadelphia Eagles lineman Chris Long, donating his salary to help maintain education equality.

Despite the hardships schools have faced, students have reported to be much happier than the years prior. At the end of the day, this is the most important factor, since uninspired, miserable students turn into uninspired, miserable adults.

Hopefully we’ll continue to see teachers like Brian Cope making differences in places where it’s most important, both in and out of the classroom.