Great teachers are everywhere ... not

textbooksAs a teacher, I really care about teaching. As a college teacher, I really care about trends in all of the schools that send me students -- schools both public and private.

As a teacher in the global Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, I am concerned about trends in religious education at all levels and, frankly, how religious schools compete with those in the secular marketplace.

So I read with interest, on the airplane to the left coast today, the large USA Today spread announcing this year's top teachers from coast to coast. Here is the top of the report by Tracey Wong Briggs:

It's 6 a.m. and All-USA Teacher Team members Benita Hackett Albert and Amber Larkin already are arriving at work. ...

Albert and Larkin start early and never stop in their relentless efforts to help students learn. They are two of 20 educators honored today in the newspaper's teacher recognition program. All 20 teachers named to the 10th annual All-USA Teacher Team receive trophies and share $2,500 cash awards with their schools as representatives of all outstanding teachers.

"Few professions can rival teaching for its long-term impact on young people," says editor Ken Paulson. "USA TODAY is honored to recognize the members of the All-USA Teacher Team for their professionalism and passion in educating a new generation."

Team members were chosen from K-12 teachers nominated nationwide. In a two-step process, judges considered how well teachers identify and address their students' needs and, most important, the impact they have on students and learning.

The 20 teachers demonstrate that great teaching thrives in all sorts of places.

Bibles StackGreat teaching does not, it appear, thrive in Catholic places, Lutheran places, Jewish places, evangelical places, Christian Reformed places or in other settings in which faith is seen as a natural partner to learning.

Am I missing something in this package? Are there any teachers on the team from religious schools? Has this gap existed in the past?

Don't get me wrong, if USA Today wants to name a public-school all-star team -- that's great. Go right ahead and let's all cheer.

What got my attention was that this was supposed to be a national all-star teaching team and (a) there are no religious school stars named and (b) the package does not say these teachers were not considered in the contest. Did I miss a reference somewhere that made that exclusion clear?

Again, I am asking a journalistic question about the package -- not questioning the newspaper's right to create a much-needed program to honor public-school classroom stars. Got the difference?

What did I miss? Please correct me.

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