With RESPECT, Educators Lead the Transformation of the Teaching Profession

America’s teachers earn our respect every day, doing some of this country’s toughest and most important work. Over the years, the demands on teachers have grown as standards rose and student needs multiplied. However, the teaching profession has not evolved to meet those growing demands.

RESPECT LogoTwo years ago, active classroom teachers working temporarily at the U.S. Department of Education launched a national dialogue with their classroom colleagues to talk openly and honestly about the challenges and aspirations of America’s teachers.

Nearly 6,000 teachers from across the country weighed in through more than 360 roundtable discussions, online feedback and even social media. They talked about training, mentoring, evaluation, support and how they use time both in and out of the classroom. They discussed technology, school leadership and culture, the role of testing and the importance of a well-rounded curriculum. And they talked about the critical need to provide teachers with autonomy and the trust to do their job.

Today, the Department of Education released the result of this unprecedented national dialogue in a bold and visionary blueprint for reforming the teaching profession. Among other things, it calls for salaries to be competitive with professions like architecture, medicine and law, more support for novice teachers and more career opportunities for veterans.

The blueprint is called RESPECT – an acronym that stands for Recognizing Educational Success, Professional Excellence and Collaborative Teaching, and in conjunction with the launch the Department has re-launched our educator homepage to include new information about the RESPECT initiative, including:


Click here for an alternate version of the video with an accessible player.

In a decentralized educational system like ours, transforming the teaching profession will only succeed if it is led by educators at the local level and fully embraced by parents, students and community leaders. The RESPECT vision challenges all Americans to honor and value the men and women at the front of the classroom doing the hard work every day to ensure that our future is secure.

Visit www.ed.gov/teaching for more information, and sign up to receive “Teaching Matters,” the official Department of Education newsletter for teachers, by teachers.

Cameron Brenchley is director of digital strategy at the U.S. Department of Education

8 Comments

  1. Adolph Hitler believed “the end justifies the means.” Today’s classrooms would make him proud. I am not a supporter of him.

    Prior to the Vietnam Era and the Kennedy administration, anyone who could teach was allowed in the classrooms. We had a diverse teacher population with many trying completely new ideas and making mistakes. Now, most are “cut from the same cloth.”

    Teachers had wide latitude to employ unorthodox strategies to teach concepts without interactives and Power Point to teach simple facts or factoids.

    If you were sensible, no one would breath down your neck with unnecessary “standards.”

    We did not have “open source,” Latex auto-writers or podcasts. Students were not only free to make errors without humiliation but were allowed to design, construct, build and develop without the limitations of “studying to the test.”

    Teachers were usually older and experienced. Seldom did we see children teaching children.

  2. I recently left an elementary classroom teaching position. Don’t focus solely on compensation. Yes, teachers in some areas of the country lag behind in salary. However, there are bigger issues. For example, Mr. Marzano has infused another layer of required work for teachers. Every educator I have spoken to agrees the demands placed on teachers to follow all the domains wastes valuable time and effort. On paper Mr. Marzano’s principles for effective teaching are correct. In practice, it simply does not work. Tying teacher compensation to (extremely) subjective administrator observations is inherently flawed. Administrators are looking for evidence of compliance with Marzano. If that evidence is not recorded, your teacher evaluation goes down and potentially your salary.

    Any active teachers care to comment on Mr. Marzano?

    • Both Dave & Norm comments above, hit the nail on the head! We are implementing new strategies like the Mazano approach which presupposed that certain aspects of the Administration/Monitoring system is already in place. They are not. So, what happens is you have a mixture of ideas and implementation plans than do harmonious impact uniform changes to benefit the kids. The top down did not work in the Regan era and it’s not working now.We need reforms from the grassroots level not top down!

  3. First, total compensation should be compared, not salaries.

    Second, I’m not sure I’d want salaries comparable to lawyers and architects. There are unemployed architects and lawyers and many don’t make that much money. Plus, some of them even fund their own retirements and carry high deducatibles on their insurance plans. The news reports the big moneymakers but ignores the reality that many live with.

    Third, lots of professionals spend more than 8 hours a day doing their job. This is not the most compelling argument for raising compensation.

  4. I cannot even begin to describe the disappointment I feel after reading the document. There is momentum for some change in our educational system, and there are well documented reasons for making changes. However, the RESPECT program does not represent the the type of change that needs to be made which means that we are wasting this opportunity.

    There are many good things in the document, and I want to acknowledge that it is a good faith effort based on good intentions. However, it represents a failure of both vision and policy. I am not predicting this program will fail, it has already failed because it represents more of the same failed policies that already plague our educational system.

    Before I begin, I want to make the point that the document and program have been crafted over many months by a large team of professionals and there is no way a single individual can review and critique the entire document in a timely fashion. By the time that review was made, this blog entry would be buried by time and events thus losing a critical window to make my voice heard.

    There are two major issues that deserve critical attention (as prioritized during an initial read): the first involves the three outcomes as defined on page ten. Outcomes one and three are similar in nature and intent, but outcome two is nothing but simple political correctness. Here is the problem: outcomes one and two are contradictory, and indeed are mutually exclusive. You, policy makers at a federal level, have assigned an impossible task that schools will be unable to perform.

    The second issue is the repeated call for the first critical component, shared responsibility. This is a theme emphasized over and over again, but it is not responsibility you are actually seeking. It is blame. I say this because you have set an impossible goal yet nowhere in this document do you at the policy level take any responsibility for the failure that will inevitably result. The responsibility is placed squarely on the shoulders of teachers, schools, and administrators with no mention of policy culpability.

    Let me describe my interpretation of the RESPECT program:

    1. Set an impossible goal
    2. Blame schools and teachers for failure to achieve that impossible goal
    3. Further degrade the teaching profession with media and political attention to that failure
    4. Implement additional reforms that continue to harm schools and education
    5. Rinse and repeat

    One other point I want to make is that it is clear that you did not actually listen to teachers at all. The single biggest concern teachers have is with classroom discipline, and that issue is literally not addressed at all. What a wasted opportunity.

    What a shame.

  5. I cannot even begin to describe the disappointment I feel after reading the document. There is momentum for some change in our educational system, and there are well documented reasons for making changes. However, the RESPECT program does not represent the type of change that needs to be made which means we are wasting this opportunity.

    There are many good things in this document, and I am going to acknowledge that it is a good faith effort with good intentions. However, it represents a failure both of vision and of policy. I am not predicting this program will fail, this program has already failed because it represents more of the same failed policies that already plague our educational system.

    This is a document and a program that has been crafted by many professionals over many months, and since I am only one single individual I am not going to be able to critique the entire effort. Were I to make that attempt, this blog entry would be buried by time and events, thus losing a critical window to make my voice heard.

    There are two major issues (as prioritized during an initial read) that deserve critical attention: the first involves the three outcomes defined on page ten. Outcomes one and three are similar in nature and intent, but outcome two is simple political correctness. Here is the problem: outcomes one and two are contradictory, and indeed are mutually exclusive. You, policy makers at the federal level, have assigned an impossible task and schools will be unable to perform both.

    The second issue is the repeated call for the first critical component, shared responsibility. This is a theme emphasized over and over again, but it is not responsibility you are actually seeking, it is blame. I say this because you have set an impossible goal and nowhere in this document do you at the policy level take any responsibility for the failure that will inevitably result. The responsibility is placed squarely on teachers and administrators with no mention of policy culpability.

    Let me describe my interpretation of the RESPECT program:

    1. Set an impossible goal
    2. Blame schools and teachers for the failure to achieve that impossible goal
    3. Further degrade the teaching profession with media and political attention to that failure
    4. Implement additional reforms that continue to harm schools and education
    5. Rinse and repeat

    One other point I want to make is that it is clear that you did not actually listen to teachers at all. The single biggest concern teachers have is with classroom discipline, and that issue is literally not addressed at all. My biggest disappointment is that this represents an opportunity that is being wasted. What a shame.

  6. I am very excited to hear about the R.E.S.P.E.C.T.program. I am glad to hear that it focuses on educators and their feelings. They are listening to the teachers first hand on what works and what doesn’t. I feel like actual teacher’s voices are not being heard. I am a teacher candidate and I am starting to witness first hand the struggles of being a teacher. This past semester when we went to the school and taught everyday, I was up the night before preparing my lesson and making sure i had all of my materials. After I would teach each day, I would come home grade the assessments and start preparing the next days lesson. I also have spent a lot of money. I don’t mind, because it is for the students and I want them to be successful. It is not easy being a teacher, but it is all worth it. I am excited to see what suggestions the R.E.S.P.C.T. program has for educators and to see what my other colleges comments will be.

  7. RESPECT’s time has come. Providing teachers with autonomy also requires knowledgeable, skilled professionals who have opportunities to grow and advance their knowledge base, and then have time to share with other colleagues. I just finished reading a book about the professionalism of teachers. I highly recommend “Reclaiming Our Teaching Profession” by Shirley Hord and Edward Tobia to add guidance and wisdom to ongoing dialogues.

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