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Class, Meet Mr. Bono

Rocker-turned-humanitarian is the person Americans would most like to see substitute teach a class

By Kevin Hart

Friday, November 20, 2009 -- If he ever tires of his work as a world-famous musician or prominent humanitarian, U2 frontman Bono always has a place waiting for him in America’s classrooms.

It's Substitute Educators Day, an annual part of NEA's American Education Week designed to draw attention to the important role substitute teachers play in helping public schools provide a quality education to all students. Each year, thousands of people vote in an NEA-sponsored poll asking which prominent figure they'd like to see substitute teach a class.

This year, Irish rocker Bono, born Paul David Hewson, bested a crowded field that included journalist Katie Couric, former South Africa President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Nelson Mandela, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Bono received 26 percent of the vote.


Bono meets with Iowa students to boost AIDS awareness (Source: AP)

Bono, who has been honored with nearly two dozen Grammy awards, has become better known as a humanitarian and activist in recent years, traveling the world to draw attention to issues such as debt relief for impoverished nations and the spread of AIDS. He has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and was once named Time magazine's Person of the Year.

NEA has contacted Bono's representatives and offered to help him find an opportunity to spend a day substitute teaching.

While Bono's literal and figurative dance card is a bit full, there are thousands of well-qualified substitute educators who help staff America's classrooms every day, ensuring students never miss a day of learning. The goal of Substitute Educators Day is to ensure these professionals receive the recognition they deserve.  

“As a math teacher, I can’t tell you how important it is to have a well qualified, well respected substitute to cover lessons,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “That’s why it’s so important to pay tribute to substitute educators who step in at a moment’s notice to carry on lessons in the classroom when teachers are absent.”

Many schools face a shortage of substitute educators. According to NEA’s Substitute Teachers Caucus, to make the role of substitute educators appealing to qualified individuals, districts should increase pay, offer incentives to substitutes who work a certain minimum number of days in any given year, and provide substitutes with training to ensure classroom success.


Learn more about Substitute Educators Day

NEA press release on Bono's victory in Substitute Educators Day poll