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Bono tops the chart as favorite celebrity substitute educator

Rock star chosen by online NEA poll

WASHINGTON - November 20, 2009 -

Bono, U2’s legendary front man and voice for the poor, would also rule the classroom say thousands of voters in the National Education Association’s third annual Substitute Educator’s Day poll.
Given the choice among Bono, journalist Katie Couric, former South Africa President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Nelson Mandela, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, 26 percent chose Bono as the person they’d most like to see in the classroom as a substitute teacher.

NEA has reached out to Bono and invited him to spend the day as a substitute educator, take over a classroom at a public school, and create a “beautiful day” for staff and students. Substitute educators are honored on the Friday of American Education Week, celebrated this year November 15–21.

“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.”

While most public schools face a shortage of substitute educators, some states, such as California, have recently begun to see an increase in the number of people applying to substitute teach. In Los Angeles, full-time teachers who were laid off have been heading back to the classroom as substitute educators while the state attempts to Band-Aid its budget shortfall. 

And students aren’t the only ones being kept from classes because of the H1N1 and seasonal flu viruses. In South Dakota, substitute teachers are used almost every day in a typical school year, and that number has the potential to increase given the illnesses circulating nationwide.

However, according to NEA’s Substitute Teachers Caucus, recruiting substitute educators needs to go beyond a bad economy and health concerns. 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.

Online poll respondents included NEA members from across the country and the general public. The poll is just one of the many activities taking place across the nation to celebrate the 88th annual American Education Week. NEA is encouraging everyone to get involved by participating in a local event, volunteering in afterschool programs, attending a school activity, or organizing events. For more information about American Education Week, visit  

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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.

CONTACT: Staci Maiers  (202) 822-7823,