SOURCE: National Education Association

November 16, 2007 11:22 ET

"Harry Potter" Author Goes Back to School

NEA's Annual Substitute Educators Day Poll Names J.K. Rowling Top Pick

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - November 16, 2007) - The people have cast their votes. The celebrity America would most like to have as a substitute educator for a day is J.K. Rowling, creator of the "Harry Potter" fantasy series.

Perhaps students at "Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry" were to thank for the last-minute surge that broke a virtual three-way tie for first place. With 25 percent of the vote, Rowling grabbed top honors in the second annual Substitute Educators Day poll sponsored by the National Education Association. The runners-up include Microsoft founder Bill Gates (23 percent) followed by golf superstar Tiger Woods (21 percent), "Ugly Betty" actress America Ferrera (18 percent) and blockbuster movie director/producer Steven Spielberg (13 percent). NEA received more than 4,500 responses to the poll, which was conducted in advance of Substitute Educators Day.

"Teachers make magic every day in the classroom when they educate youngsters," said NEA President Reg Weaver. "J.K. Rowling has brought her own magic touch to millions of children by sparking their interest and cultivating a love of reading. Now that the 'Harry Potter' series has come to a close, perhaps Ms. Rowling would like to join the teaching corps -- even if just for a day -- and keep the adventure alive."

The poll comes at a time when school districts are facing a shortage of substitute educators. In a survey completed by Utah State University, 96 percent of the nation's school districts said they had trouble recruiting and keeping substitutes.

NEA's Substitute Teachers Caucus offers a remedy to the revolving door. Solutions include districts increasing the pay for substitute teachers, offering incentives to substitutes who work a certain number of days in any given year, and providing substitutes with training to ensure their success in the classroom.

"Substitute educators play an important supporting role in helping to provide students with quality schools and an uninterrupted learning environment," said Weaver. "This Substitute Educators Day, we will be honoring the contributions of those individuals who regularly step in when teachers and other school employees have to miss class."

Created in 2003 and observed on the Friday of American Education Week, Substitute Educators Day is designed to raise awareness about substitute educators and their need for greater respect and improved wages, benefits and training. American Education Week's tagline, "Great Public Schools: A Basic Right and Our Responsibility," represents NEA's vision of making public schools great for every child and the shared responsibility of all Americans to provide students with quality public schools.

Visit www.nea.org/aew for more information on Substitute Educators Day and American Education Week.

The National Education Association is the nation's largest professional employee organization, representing 3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

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