Guest Blogger – John Legend: Why I Believe in Teachers

Cross-posted from the TEACH.gov blog.

John Legend speaking at TEACH Town Hall

John Legend is a six time Grammy Award-winner. In 2007, he received the special Starlight award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame. After reading Professor Jeffrey Sachs’ book,The End of Poverty, Legend was inspired to visit Ghana to learn more about making life better for the people who live under the poverty line. Legend also spends his time advocating for schools, and appeared this Wednesday with Secretary Duncan at Howard University, where he encouraged students to become teachers.

I am fortunate to do something I love, which is largely due to the great teachers who encouraged, supported and guided me along the way. Every child deserves such teachers. They cannot achieve their potential without them. I believe, as does Secretary Duncan, that education is the civil rights issue of our time—no child in this great country should be shuffled through a system that fails them year after year.

That’s where good teachers come in. Studies show that good teaching is the single biggest predictor of student success—more important than class size, dollars spent per student, or the quality of textbooks and materials. What an incredible opportunity to change someone’s life.

This week I had the chance to meet with students at Howard University, and I asked them directly to become teachers. Howard is one of our country’s top HBCUs and, since we know that we need a new generation of teachers who reflect the diversity of the students in our classrooms, it was a great place to discuss the Department of Education’s TEACH campaign. The students asked thoughtful questions about the teaching profession and challenged the education administrators to do better for our classroom teachers.

Being a teacher means you get to serve your country through a job that is fulfilling, interesting and very cool. Local, award-winning high school teacher Angela Benjamin joined us on stage. You could sense her passion and dedication immediately. She pointed out that even when you first start out as a teacher, you have the opportunity to lead, “While your friends are working their way into leadership positions,” she said, “you will be a leader the second you step into the classroom.”

We need a new generation of teachers to join those already in the classroom—I urge you to invest in the future. Teach.

More photos from the event at Howard University.