November 11 – Veteran’s Day – has been celebrated since 1954 to honor military veterans and those who served in the U. S. Armed Forces. During ceremonies nationwide, many will note that it is also the 100th Anniversary of the ending of World War One – “The War to End All Wars.”
This week, November 12-16, is also American Education Week, which was first celebrated in 1921, shortly after WWI. Today, it is sponsored by the National Education Association, American Legion, PTA and other organizations, and gives Americans an opportunity to celebrate public education and the difference it makes in the lives of children and the country. There are numerous opportunities to celebrate the many successes of public education this week.
Why American Education Week? American Legion and NEA representatives met back in 1919 to seek ways to generate public support for education because they discovered that 25 percent of the country’s World War I draftees were illiterate, and 9 percent were physically unfit.
The conventions of both organizations subsequently adopted resolutions of support for a national effort to raise public awareness of the importance of education. In 1921, the NEA Representative Assembly in Des Moines, Iowa, called for designation of one week each year to spotlight education. In its resolution, the NEA called for: “An educational week … observed in all communities annually for the purpose of informing the public of the accomplishments and needs of the public schools and to secure the cooperation and support of the public in meeting those needs.”
The first observance of American Education Week occurred December 4-10, 1921, with the NEA and American Legion as the cosponsors. A year later, the then U.S. Office of Education joined the effort as a cosponsor, and the PTA followed in 1938.