The RESPECT Project Vision Statement

The RESPECT Project Vision Statement

The RESPECT Project: Envisioning a Teaching Profession for the 21st Century

Thank you to everyone who has submitted opinions, ideas, suggestions, and comments. The comment period has ended, and we are no longer accepting comments on this document. The latest version of the RESPECT Project vision statement incorporates feedback we received here and from educators across the country.

We are planning to take this document offline within the next few months.

The following is a discussion document for use in conversations with teachers and principals about the teaching profession. It is hoped that these conversations will inform future policy or program directions, so thoughtful input about the vision described in this document is welcome.


I think that the RESPECT project has the right ideas. The public doesn't value education and teaching. However, I think the RESPECT project has a lot of lofty ideas and no concrete ways to put these into practice. How are we to accomplish these goals?

In order to impress the value of education, one must show its value. As a country, we pay top dollar for what is important of valued to us.

This statement is exactly the problem in education, NO VALUE. If we value education, then we pay for it. Prep-Schools pay for it and get the best teachers in USA. High dollar Universities pay faculty well and get a quality product. If we pay public school teachers decent living positive wage, Americans go into teaching, and we get quality education. End of story.

If a patient dies, do we automatically blame the doctor? If a client goes to jail, do we automatically blame the lawyer or judge? If crime continues, do we blame the police? If the country has debt, do we automatically blame the politician?
Teachers are not valued because, education is not valued in America. Only, when parents, communities are held equally accountable will a shift happen. EIC is given even if child has over 1 month absent from school.
Selling education to the highest bidder is not the solution.
Teachers can't pay their student loans ( bad ROI).
Test scores are not indicators of success in life, so are they the only data used?

You have said this so eloquently, thank you so much! I totally agree.
I have been blessed into a family of teachers and I myself have taught for over 20 years.
I have been in the private sector before I invested in myself and went back to school to teach.
I do not know why some people can't see that politicians have been bought in this great State of WI where
I was born and grew up. Until people realize that $$$ is not the end all to happiness and jobs are only "part" of the
happiness picture we will get the Gov. who does not seem to value higher education. And yes, I have multiple degrees and
continue to value education and my profession. It is not easy. Thank you for your fine comments! Bless you!

After reading all of the sections, I agree with the vision. It would wonderful to get central office administrators and Boards of Education on the same page in order to make progress in this field.

I became a teacher because I wanted to feel fulfilled at the end of the day. I wanted to make a difference in the lives of children. I do make a difference everyday. I care for, and love my students. I do the best I can to help them pass the state mandated tests, even though I feel it is ridiculous to test a 2nd grader this way. I attempt to prepare them for the 3rd grade, when they will take the FCAT; if they don't pass, they won't continue on to 4th grade. It is tragic that a child's future is decided at the age of 9.

The Florida Department of Education should hang its head in shame.

It has become very clear that state and national governments no longer plan on funding education. Yes, educating the future generations costs money. Our leaders have chosen to turn the constitutionally guaranteed right of education over to private industry. Many corporations are salivating at the tasty tax dollars that they are lobbying for. Jeb Bush incorporated, Pearson, to name a few.

After my 10 short years of teaching, the wind has been knocked out of my sails. The fight has become insurmountable. The mandates flow like hot sulphuric lava. Uneducated legislators demand more as their futures become brighter and bank accounts grow larger -- lined with tax payers' money.

As educators, we are being encouraged to "work smarter" and at the same time "educate the public" about the woes of our profession. I can't stretch my measly $42k any further.

I predict that schools within the near future will become privatized. When the public recognizes that these schools have produced a generation of robots, maybe things will change.

A bleak outlook? Yes, it is. I wish that it weren't happening.

I am a number inside the 'top 1/3 college graduate' statistic. I graduated in the top 10% of my accredited university and I can honestly say I was born to teach. This is brought with the fact that I neither have a teaching degree nor hold a teaching position.

I was born to teach, but instead of learning about secondary education in college I declared an engineering major. Thought to be one of the most in demand degrees in the world we live in, I figured I was a shoe in to leap over the financial crises faced in today's job market.

After spending 7 months unemployed, I now make close to double what the average starting teaching salary is. So in retrospect this recent college grad made the right choice. Because if it took me, a top 10% graduate in one of the most lucrative fields, 7 months of unemployment to find just a basic and comparative low salary position, what hope did I have as an entry level teacher?

The line that sticks out most to me in this text, "by transforming the teaching profession, this country’s most important work will become our most valued work", must be focused on. It seems this document is taking a narrow approach to reformation. Smart students aren't declaring secondary education, make programs more demanding. As written: "Currently too many teacher preparation programs fail to attract and select highly qualified candidates...". While this approach may weed out potential 'lower quality' teachers, it will do little to attract new.

What reason do I, the capable student, have to enter the teaching field if all that awaits me is a more difficult curriculum? Why is it the programs that are failing to attract candidates rather than the profession itself? My university didn't 'convince me' to get an engineering degree. The demand and salary did. Taking resources away from these two factors to reform our training of teachers will only backfire; incentive must be implemented before you increase your standards. In the end, the increasing of standards and tightening of college curriculum may happen naturally. That is if the real issues are addressed first.

That being said, this reform in general excites me. Maybe in my life there will be enough of a shift in the view of teaching in society and a greater incentive for me to switch careers to my true passion. Until then, money makes the world turn.

I do not support anything the Federal Department of Education, Arne Duncan, and President Barack Obama are doing with regards to educational reform at the Federal level. There is no constitutional authority for the Federal government to do the things that they are doing. NCLB was a disaster and anything that is coming out of this administration will result the same. Arne Duncan is an idiot who never spent a day in his life inside of a classroom or running a school building, he has no real world experience, and has no clue what good education looks like. Quit wasting money we don't have on "reform" we don't need. Allow the states to innovate and get out of our business.

Does anyone find it interesting that all but one or two of the comments that precede this one have a negative rating? Most of the comments are critical of ed reform. Many are critical of the RESPECT initiative in general. So the first question is: who is taking the time to vote these comments down? And second: why aren't these folks writing positive statements about ed reform or the RESPECT initiative? Smells fishy to me.

Let the real education professionals (teachers and local administrators and school boards) decide what's best for their respective communities.

Corporate dollars haven't just corrupted our politics. Just ask Pearson.

I am a high school science teacher and certified SPED teacher. After 10 years of teaching, a BS in Biology, 30 graduate credits in science, 3 time teacher-of-the-year at our school (as voted by the students) and a nomination for National Science Teacher of the year, I barely make $45,000. With increases in insurance and retirement contributions I have made less every year for the past three years. Our finance director, superintendent and school board claims we are in pay "freeze" but our salary schedule has actually been cut for the third year in a row. Except the finance director's pay, she is getting a $5500 raise next year. My raise for the 45th credit I earned after my Bachelors degree was a meager $10 a year. I love my students dearly but I can no longer afford to be a teacher! I simply don't make enough to pay the bills, care for my family, or plan for retirement. Especially considering all my education and the cost of going to school constantly. The average teacher in NM makes about $42,000, while in other states it's over $60,000.
I don't think people understand the importance of teaching. We listen to kids cry, buy them food and clothes, find them a place to stay when their parents kick them out (CYFD won't help kids over 16 years old in NM) and help them learn how to apply for and get into college. The only job more important than teaching is being a parent, and it seems like some parents have even pushed that job off on us. If teachers were paid better, had more support and held accountable we would have higher acheiving students...if PARENTS were held accountable we would have phenominal success in our schools AND across this great country.

I agree that people don't understand the importance of teaching. I think this is the idea behind the RESPECT project. However, it seems to me a lofty plan and I don't know how they would put it into practice. It seems like a lot of ideas without any concrete solutions.

I agree one hundred percent. How can you expect teachers to continue to work hard year after year and only get this much money. It would be hard to live and support just yourself and put money towards retirement and savings. This country and government need to think about the value of teachers and where our society be without us. It is a job that takes a lot out of you but can be very rewarding. Its are you willing to put up with all the other politics that goes with the job itself.

I have been teaching in California for the past 16 years and I love my job! We have gone through a lot of bumps on the road of education but we're still here! I will be relocating to Virginia this summer and after looking at all the salaries in the east coast ... I'm afraid to make this move! Here in California I make $75,000 per year and in Virginia the salary scales range from $42,000 to $52,000!!! ... wow!!! Why so low????

I agree with the body of your comments. In my state, teachers have been forced to take furlow days which effectively reduces their salary. Benefit costs have gone up and been paid for out of their salary package which reduces their bring home salary. Bond measures have been passed to spend billions of dollars on facility and technology upgrades. I know that buildings are in need of upgrading but is that the message we want to send? I have been involved with a program which mentors 6th grade students since 1990 and have found through the years that it is harder for the students to prepare themselves for upper grades because we are not equipping our teachers. It is going to take a team effort from the national level to the individual homes.

1. Teachers can no longer teach because our government and school boards have decided scripted education is the only way.
2. Teachers get very little pay and no raises in many areas of our country while in other countries teachers are revered and paid what they are worth in addition to being supported and urged to attain higher degrees.
3. Children must not be harmed by a one size fits all program or a program where children who are above the cut off for testing are ignored.
4. Standardized tests waste academic learning time and teacher expertise. Teacher observation is the biggest, best, most accurate tool in education yet repeatedly teachers are unable to use this tool along with developmentally appropriate rubrics in order to asses growth of students.
5. Money is being wasted on consultants. Drop the consultants and you will have enough money to pay for education again.
6. I could go on all day but basically I quit because my children were not being taught but rather babysat and also taken advantage of because they were smart but quiet and would not speak up when a teacher did something harmful. I am now using my higher degree and experience to school them at home while my taxes are still supporting public education, as they should be. My way of helping is to speak out whenever possible and to educate my children regarding the proper way to learn and teach so our future can be brighter.

I am not a teacher. I am a mother and I can call myself a teacher because I have been given a gift from God I have a son with autism and It has fallen on me to be sure that all of his work is completed at home after he spends a full day at school. This is due to the faculty cut backs. And where do they cut back they do it where it is needed the most. In the exceptional children s class room. rent working together.I understand that this is for the teachers and the principals. I have a Poem that says a lot about the role of a teacher and a parent working together. ......... Partners is the name of the poem. I DREAMED I STOOD IN A STUDIO AND WATCHED TWO SCULPTORS THERE. THE CLAY THEY USED WAS A CHILD'S MIND AND THEY FASHIONED IT WITH CARE. ONE WAS A TEACHER;THE TOOLD USED WERE BOOKS AND MUSIC AND ART. ONE, A PARENT WITH GUIDING HANDS , A GENTLE AND LOVING HEART. DAY AFTER DAY THE TEACHER TOILED,WITH A TOUCH BOTH DEFT AND SKILLED.THE PARENT LABORED SIDE BY SIDE AND ALL THE VALUES FILLED. AND WHEN AT LAST THEIR TASK WAS DONE.THEY LOOKED AT WHAT THEY'D WROUGHT THE BEAUTIFUL SHAPE OF THE PRECIOUS CHILD COULD NEITHER BE SOLD NOR BOUGHT. AND EACH AGREED IT WOULD HAVE FAILED IF ONE HAD WORKED ALONE. FOR BEHIND THE PARENT STOOD THE SCHOOL, AND BEHIND THE TEACHER, THE HOME . I want to say thank you to all in the field of education. For with out you we would have no president for he could not learn on his own. Sincerely, April C.

I participated in a 'focus' group where we critiqued the RESPECT Project vision statement. In attendance were a number of educators from NYC. The meeting was held at an elementary school . . . in a Kindergarten classroom. The teacher was very gracious and her classroom was lovely . . . BUT WE SAT IN THOSE LITTLE KINDERGARTEN CHAIRS FOR TWO HOURS!!!!! It was late afternoon and the federal government could not offer us a bottle of water, cup of coffee . . . nothing. The poor kindergarten teacher felt compelled to serve us the animal crackers she had for her students, because her "mother taught (her) it was impolite to have guests and not feed them". WHERE WAS THE RESPECT IN THIS EVENT!??!!!!

This project is not in anyway interested in developing the profession of teaching. It is simply another device to reinforce the corporate reform agenda! I mean really, this document claims that 3 - 4 hours of teaching is a part time job!!!! THEY HAVE NO IDEA THAT FOR EVERY HOUR SPENT WITH KIDS REQUIRES AT LEAST AN HOUR OF ANALYSIS OF STUDENT WORK (IE GRADING) AND PREPARATION - LESSON PLANNING - IF NOT MORE!. I mean really, there are thousands of school across the country - they could have at least done a little homework about what teachers actually do. Similarly the idea that a 'master' teacher would be able to manage having one or two additional adults along with more children in her classroom, as if the addition of more adults makes things easier - more adults actually makes teaching (the planning and execution in particular) more complex and difficult.

This document claims to be trying to raise the prestige for the teaching profession, but doesn't even understand the basic elements of teaching.

THERE IS NO RESPECT IN THIS DOCUMENT - what it demonstrates is disdain.

I agree that the teaching profession is suffering terribly. One problem I see very clearly is that the pay is too low. This hurts the quality of the profession in a few different ways. First, high quality people do not tend to want to become teachers. Second, it contributes to a lack of respect from parents and students that teachers receive. If you want to buy something of high quality, do you look for the cheapest one out there. If something is offered to you at a very low price, do you think it is going to be very high quality? The same goes for the teaching profession. Not long ago I heard two teachers tell a class of students that they should NOT want to grow up to be teachers. Teaching is portayed to too many students as the last resort when you can't do anything else. That is discouraging to me as I'm sure it is to many college students who are trying choose a profession. In other countries like Japan, teachers are honored, respected and paid well. The quality of their education system and their children is not declining.


I find this comment "First, high quality people do not tend to want to become teachers." quite rude and unfounded. Are you stating that people who work for non-profits that advocate equal rights, assist the underpriveleged, and consistently discriminated populations, are not "high quality" people?

The teaching profession is much like these different career fields, such as human services, and non-profit organizations and institutions. The people who choose to work in these career fields, are people who do their job not because of money, but because they care about us as a whole, and do want to improve our future, and our children's future. Are you stating that people who seek these different career fields are non-quality people?

I am puzzled by this statement.

I agree- "high quality people do not tend to want to become teachers" is an egregiously gross generalization. Moreover, terms such as "high quality people" hinder productive discussion.

This is a wonder idea and I also hope that these conversations will be used to inform future educational policy and program direction. I retired after 36 years in public education. I worked in the same urban school district that I attended as a K-12 student. In my lifetime, I have witnessed a tremendous decline in public education and it's not because of teachers. If we have bad teachers, it is the result of how our society as devalued the work teachers do and have done throughout history. In earlier times, when our society was more homogeneous in its values, beliefs, culture and behaviors, children came to school and were respectful of teachers and other authoritative structures. Parents knew they were responsible for "raising" their children and that included being responsible for what they did and for what they said. But the social, political, economic and spiritual revolutions of the 60s, 70s, and 80s has resulted in a heterogeneous society where people only care about their own selfish, individual needs. Our children are spoiled, they have no sense of responsibility and our schools are stuck with trying to deal with unprecedented social, economic, emotional, psychological and moral issues with declining resources and little support.

We get the kind of teachers and schools we deserve. Years ago, when I was a businss major, we used to have a saying, GIGO. It stands for "Garbage In, Garbage Out." We want "high quality" teachers but we treat teachers like they're less than human. You can't disrespect what teachers do, blame teachers for all that's wrong about schools, allow children and their "parents" to disrespect teachers, allow parents to neglect their primary responsibility for the children they choose to have, establish laws that require substantial additional resources, like NCLB, then reduce resources, and expect the best people to become teachers. It doesn't happen. Teachers are people, too. They have families and responsibilities. If teachers need to work 2 jobs to make ends meet, there will not be enough physical hours in a day for them to efficiently and effectively do all that has been placed on them to do. I recommend all of the people who think that teachers have too much--money, time, tenure, consideration or anything else, step into any classoom for 1-day and see what teachers (even bad teachers) have to put up with and I believe you'll change your minds. Most parents don't like spending too much time with their children because children are DEMANDING! Yet, we want the best from our teachers and we don't want to reciprocate by making sure that we honor and value the work that teachers do, each and everyday!

I can only speak from my perspective, being an educator in an urban setting. Our students face many challenges. Many of those challenges come from their home life. Many of our students have parents who are in gangs so they bring that gang mentality to school. Other parents do not have parenting skills and often tell us they do not know what to do with their children. Many come from single family homes. The parents are too busy scratching out a living; they do not have time to properly nurture their children. Often parents talk at their children not to them. Talk to urban educators. The stories they could tell you about their students' home life would break your heart. Then there are the students who have medical issues and their behavior could be controlled by medication and either the parents are in denial and will not seek medical help, or the parents have the medication and do not take the responsibility to make sure their child takes the medication on a regular basis. Yet, every day we try to educate them, not just in academics, but also in respect, responsibility and safety. I often tell my students, "You may not have any control over your home life, but you have a lot of control over what goes on in the classroom. Here, you control you. You can decide to learn. You can decide how you behave in the class. You can decide to ignore students who do not behave appropriately in class."

I have read the posts on here and it has broken my heart to hear they way that everyone wants to point their fingers at someone else. I have not heard one person say '' I have not put my all into educating my students for one reason or another'' Finger pointing gets absolutely nothing done at the end of the day everyone has a finger to point why not just accept that we are only human and all make mistakes.. It is not any one person's fault. Secretary of education works with what he has been given ( That's a personal opinion) I am a mother of a 12 year old son who has Aspergers and I have been given the role of being his teacher due to cut backs in the faculty. It is an unfortunate thing that teachers are paid too little and yes there are so called bad teachers in every school. And I hate to use the word bad teacher because I bet not one of you become a teacher for the money. You have to all have a special place in your heart for children and want o make a change somewhere. But, for one reason or another you were not able to do what you set out to do. I have had the pleasure of working with some of the best teachers and school faculty all across the board. I have not always agreed with the way things are done. And that is when I step in and say let's change this. Please I understand that people are angered by so many different things cut backs, preferential treatment. I do not know your situations. I do know my situation. I am the proud parent of a child with a different ability then most children. And my role is to step up and work with the teachers the principals and whomever else I must work with to be sure that my child and others like him are given the best that can be given education wise. Please let us ALL work together to make a change let our anger not cloud our judgement and stand in the way of a better education system All across the board. Bless you all for the chosen field you have taken. THANK YOU Teachers and faculty!!! And I want to also say Thank You to the parents that actually step foot in the schools just because they want to make a change help the teachers or read a book to the 1st graders. The way that a child looks up to you when you come into their class room and say do you want me to read you a book. WOW!!!!!

April, I'm very pleased to read that you are an engaged parent and an advocate for your child. I wish that all parents, teachers, and political officials were as well.

I do, however, want to point a finger at you. I cannot honestly say '' I have not put my all into educating my students for one reason or another''. Why? Because I have given everything of my being for 30 years to educating elementary school children. Everything. My heart, my soul, my mind, my body, and what money and wealth I possess. I'm not unusual. I think that most of my colleagues give the same.

You are correct that I didn't go into this profession for the money; however, I didn't go in to this profession to be chronically sub-rich. My good friend and colleague, one of the best teachers I know, is on public assistance. My Superintendent's car allowance is greater than the salary of many teaching assistants in my school division. My teaching friends and I went to college, like many other people. In addition, most of my friends also went extra years to get advanced degrees. How are they financially rewarded? They aren't. They're reward is a financial cost and the satisfaction of becoming a stronger professional. You can't eat goodwill and happy thoughts.

Blame? I'm not really in to that; however, I will say that the current Secretary of Education, whom I've had the opportunity to town hall chat with several times, seems to speak with an unfocused vision. I want him to be a reformer, but he seems to tilt more toward the "accountability/privatization camp" than the "what's actually best for children" camp.

I urge you to continue to advocate for and be a teacher of your child. That's what great parents do!

This statement of "Go learn behind the computer, kid!" is not an appropriate statement! I myself rescued many students who were left behind by the system here in Texas! There are too many teachers and administrators that are just looking at their watches for the end of the day to come around and for retirement to approach! THEY DON'T CARE ABOUT ANY STUDENT OR SUBGROUP! THEY ARE JUST INTERESTED IN THEMSELVES!!! I deliver HIGH-QUALITY instruction on my online Biology Course, Virtual Science University. I have the numbers to prove to any teacher, parent, administrator, and school district that my approach of teaching online students works. I did this out of necessity because I had several minority students approach me four years ago at a very high elitist public high school where only students living inside gated communities received "HIGH QUALITY' Instruction. I was giving HIGH QUALITY" Instruction but I could only handle inside my classroom a maximum of 150 students a day. This forced me to put my lectures on-line! To the surprise of everyone, students who complete my 26 online lectures can compete with any elitist student living behind a gated community on any State Evaluation relating to Biology. Somehow this nation has to level the playing field but I see GREED deeply seated in the "EQUITY FOR EDUCATION" issue. Some politicians exploit this issue and all they do is TALK, TALK, TALK, and the real students that need help never receive the facilities they need for 'HIGH QUALITY" Instruction to take place. USA HAS TO LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD AND RISE TO THE TOP!!!

Yes, I know that on-line instruction can be both high-quality as well as critical when schools do not deliver core literacy instruction and therefore skills, or fluency, to students every day during school. I have also provided my son with high-quality on-line instruction required and needed because of non-delivery at schools. However, it is still imperative that the job gets done during school for the health and well-being of students and teachers and the USA. And on-line instruction can leverage teacher and student learning, now, to that end, when well-chosen (instead of the Google lessons my son and his classmates received which did equate to "Go sit behind the computer and learn something, kid!", strategy, which is as high-quality as shoving a kid in a room, alone, with a violin, and telling them to learn to play, beautifully). To that end I have requested on-line learning but in a hierarchic systematic format so that a parent, student or teacher can easily find high-quality instruction for the core literacy skill up for instruction and automation. ELL and foreign language learners would also be well served with on-line technical reading instruction (structured from basic fonemes upward, and highly organized drilling, i.e. not throwing in all sorts of rules to automate in one exercise...). So, I know exactly the critical need you are filling and thank you for assisting our children, and delivering for them, every day, but still, the schools and Fed and State Ed must re-design their operational strategy and practice, too, now, and start delivering for the kids (and teachers) at school, during school. Also, I agree that politicians, State Ed and Fed Ed must act to ensure delivery of high-quality instructional core (that every child receives or can run through, now,) and that on-line instruction is part of that equation (for students and teachers). Also Fed and State ED need to act and deliver on a bureacratic re-design that relieves undue burdens, removes obstacles and "bad homework" though teaching-to-the-test is not a policy but indicates bad operations and worst-practice. Worst-practice in the great practice of education leads to teachers demotivated, stressed and running for the door, just like the kids. We can do alot better than that for our kids and teachers, but only when all the players are on the field, truly engaged and hustling to solve basic operational problems that have turned into monsters. The adults can and must make the difference and I hope that team USA pulls together, finally, and delivers! The rise to the top will be unstoppable and even more than that, every child, student and teacher will feel the joy of learning down to their toes, and they deserve it!

As a School Site Council member, I see little participation by teachers. Generally it's the principals' rubber stamp staff that populate school site councils. Teachers need to step forward and get involved in School Site Councils. As it is, administrators state that teachers do not want to serve on School Site Councils and do nothing to generate interest in SSC participation. While teachers have given me ideas to present to the SSCs, one lone voice cannot get administrators/staff to seriously consider good ideas when teachers will not attend SSC meetings to support good ideas. At Point Loma, Serra and Patrick Henry high schools in San Diego Unified, an "achievement program" in which high achieving students are given a ONE-HOUR lunch while low-achieving students attend mandatory study hall was implemented. Each class period was cut three minutes to carve out the ONE-HOUR lunch. Teachers were awarded "resource" (means non-teaching) periods to coordinate this program and paid with Title I money. Students walked to Starbucks with the teacher to buy lattes during this time. So fewer classes, less instructional time, less money directly to students for a program with no data to support a flimsy program. Review of Title I expenditures showed money spent on furniture and misappropriated in the thousands of dollars. Teachers need to take a leadership role in School Site Councils.

My understanding from personal experience and "word of mouth" is that every teacher at "Roundtables" in NYC voiced total opposition to so called "Education Reform" and share the opinion that the entire "REFORM" education movement is nothing more than a smokescreen so taxpayer funds can be diverted away from education into private industry with respect to testing, evaluating, consulting, Charter Schools and through the hiring of temporary, cheap employees (Teachers), with no long term medical benefits or pensions. Children and education are irrelevant in this "Reform" agenda.

The RESPECT has to be modeled at all levels, not just talked about. You cannot ask teachers to teach with passion and creativity and not teach to the test, then support programs that push even more tests with more pressures to raise test scores. You cannot model RESPECT by forming commissions to reform education and exclude teachers from the committees or by turning education over to Pearson.
Most of all you cannot continue to say one thing to teachers and do the opposite and pretend teachers don't get it. teachers don't need a program to gain RESPECT; they can and have earned it. They need those who push this top down approach, including this Secretary of Education, to get out of the way.

Private sector's exploited, neglected employees are on the hook to pay Teachers's salaries. So i empathize with MG.

This coming week (May 7-11, 2012) is Teacher Appreciation Week. There will be the customary newspaper coverage of favorite teacher stories, the hashtag #thankateacher will trend on Twitter, and celebrities will post videos thanking teachers as the most important influences in their lives. These are all wonderful and appropriate tributes to the profession that prepares our nation’s youth to become productive citizens.

But for the other 51 weeks of the year, the teaching profession is struggling under serious criticism. According to the National Education Association (NEA) website:

There are 3,232,813 teachers in K-12 public schools, and about 16 percent of these positions become vacant each year.
Forty-five percent of new teachers abandon the profession in their first five years.
More teachers believe collaborating with colleagues is essential to their work, but many districts still don’t provide time for teachers to learn, share and collaborate.
Teachers’ salaries still lag behind those for other occupations requiring a college degree, and the pay gap is growing larger.
The teaching profession dedicated to educating the nation has done a terrible job at self-promotion. Teachers today have failed to educate the public about the value of this great vocation in the same manner that they failed to teach the value of teaching to previous generations, most notably the parents and grandparents of students in schools today. The result is that the very public that teachers need to enlist in support of the teaching profession is not confident in meeting the criticisms being leveled at educators today.

There is increasing negative political attention turned on the teaching profession. For example, in-between statements of support for teachers, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was quoted as saying, “They [teachers] only work 180 days,” voicing the popular perception that teachers work only part time.
Of course, there is evidence that counter his claims that teachers do not work that hard; the Wall Street Journal listed a series of facts about the teaching profession in the June 2011 article, Number of the Week: U.S. Teachers’ Hours Among World’s Longest:
U.S. educators work 1,097 hours teaching in the classroom, the most of any industrialized nation measured by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
American teachers work 1,913 hours a year, just shy of the U.S. average of 1,932 per year.
U.S. teachers are slightly more likely to work at home than private-sector workers, the U.S. Labor Department found. They aren’t paid to work weekends but are as likely to do so as private-sector employees — including those scheduled to work Saturdays and Sundays.
In my own state of Connecticut, during the February 2012 State of the State speech, Governor Dannel Malloy made a commitment to educational reform in one breath, and then slammed teachers and the practice of tenure in the next breath saying, ”Basically the only thing you [teachers] have to do is show up for four years. Do that, and tenure is yours.” Not surprisingly, his educational legislation promoting teacher evaluation reform is currently being met with serious resistance by the Connecticut State Teacher’s Union. Politics is polarizing the profession.
This negative attention is dangerous if schools are interested in attracting quality candidates to the teaching profession. In his opinion piece in the 5/6/12 NYTimes “Teaching Me About Teaching” Charles M. Blow sounded this alarm pointing out, ”A big part of the problem is that teachers have been so maligned in the national debate that it’s hard to attract our best and brightest to see it as a viable and rewarding career choice, even if they have a high aptitude and natural gift for it.” His editorial was accompanied by statistics of the top tier college graduates who will not choose teaching for economic and social reasons; only 37% of responders believed a career in teaching is considered successful.
The irony is that for years teachers have not been effective advocates for their work. Teachers have demonstrated but not taught their students the rigors of teaching; the assumption is that the experience of being a student speaks for the entire profession. Certainly, all occupations have practitioners that can make work look easy to an uninformed public. Any product- a building, a meal, a vaccine, a championship trophy -cannot fully inform the public of the individual or collaborative preparation to make that product a reality. In addition, all work requires some level of training. Teachers study about their craft first at college and later implement these lessons in classrooms. However, the classroom is crucible, a brutal training ground that disputes the notion that “anyone can teach” as almost half the nation’s new teachers vote for the profession with their feet, leaving within the first five years.

Being a student is only 1/2 of the educational relationship; teachers need to teach the significance of their role

For decades, K-12 teachers have collectively prepared students for careers in the sciences, in mathematics, in the arts, in the humanities, and in the industrial arts. Yet, in preparing students for careers beyond the classroom, there has been no direct instruction on the methodology on the craft of instruction for student learning. Consider how little students today understand about how much time and cognitive effort a teacher has to expend for each lesson plan. Day after day, period after period, students participate in an academic enterprise without acknowledging the multiple components that teachers have included in its construction: IEPs, multiple/emotional intelligence strategies, Bloom’s levels of understanding, technology, curriculum content, available resources and facility limitations to name a few.
Teaching is challenging work, and in their commitment to provide the nation with all manner of numeracy and literacy skills, teachers have failed to express and assess student understanding of teaching. Students at all grade levels in public or private schools today have little understanding of the increasing demands of the teaching profession which now include incorporating Common Core State Standards, integrating technology for 21st Century Skills, and increasing scrutiny in newly designed evaluations. Ultimately, teachers have failed to communicate the significance of their contributions to a productive society that will result in recruiting the best and the brightest to the profession.
The public’s understanding of education often comes as a “recipient in the desk “point of view, not from the perspective of the teacher charged with engaging and educating every student. Unless the public is persuaded that teachers are critical for our democratic society, the profession will continue to suffer economically and socially. After basking in the attention from stories of the positive influence they have had on on the lives of individual students during Teacher Appreciation Week, teachers need to integrate one more lesson to their repertoire. How ironic that teachers must teach the significance of teaching.

Very well said! I am exhausted after 5 days of teaching, planning, evaluating, meeting standards, and re-evaluating, and then at least 8 hours on weekends. Just as students have higher demands in higher grades, high school teachers have greater demands with more complex subject matter, clubs, and sports responsibilities. I can't imagine how teachers with children at home, can survive the demands. So thank you. Well said.

I am a 36 year retired Special Education Teacher. I want to ditto every word that Colette Bennett has said in her commentary. I am still teaching as an instructional assistant, but without the salary or benefits that I had as a full time, certified teacher. I love my profession but I was sick to death of all the public bashing of my profession. That is why I retired! She is correct, the public has no idea what we do or deal with on a daily basis. Being a Public School Teacher is the hardest working professional you will ever meet.

I'm not sure I understand: because the private sector is currently exploitive, ungrateful, and neglectful of employees we should follow that example when it comes to teachers?

The current approach taken by the private sector does not seem like a viable, sustainable model either morally or practically. Perhaps it's the mentality of scarcity that's causing us to shortchange those who make concrete contributions to the economy and society, and thereby creating the distortions and problems that lead to low pay and exploitation in the first place. There is plenty of money and lots of profit; it’s just not shared with those who do the work. Rather than accepting the downward spiral of exploitation and greed that only serves the interests of the few, we should be improving the society in which we all live together.

The RESPECT startegy should lift every child and teacher, together, at once. To that end two critical remarks:

A base-line of equal time, high-quality literacy instruction(al) opportunity for every child every day is the goal , not over-attending one group while neglecting another by little or no face-to-face instruction time, as well skipping the opportunity for kids to learn together with independent experiential learning materials (Froebel & Montessori). Notice the social engagement next to the engaged learning on all levels that these critical points emphasize, including that kids automate skills together given independent learning materials instead of alone behind the computer?

"Go learn behind the computer, kid!" cannot replace experiential learning and face-to-face engaged instruction from a teacher every day, who even if not 'high-quality' level now, should receive high-quality instructions to follow, so they will be soon.

Go! GO! GO USA!!!!!!!!!!

At a point in time when many other educated people with college degrees are underemployed or unemployed, the compensation proposal is one I'm unwilling to support for all but an incredibly great teacher. Certainly, there should be no tenure and no defined pension plan at such high level salaries. There are large numbers of similarly situated individuals in the private sector who don't earn the kind of salaries set forth in this document, and many older individuals in the private work force get terminated from their employment as they age and never recover the level of compensation they once earned. Many of these individuals don't have a pension plan to support them in old age.

Additionally, one important piece is missing from this document and that is the voice of the customer. There are many good things happening in many schools today; however, there is much room for improvement. Certainly, the voice of parents who send their children to school deserves consideration. The customer has influence in other industries. The same should happen in education. Schools might get some good feedback if they surveyed their customers and took action on what they learned.

As a parent in a small, failing school district who attends Board of Ed budget meetings that annually include million dollar academic cuts you lost me at the words "fair compensation". If you want respect, earn it! If you want to make a change in education look to countries that succeed. For the good of the children we all need to let go of our American pride and realize that others do it better. I have had high school exchange students living with me for the last five years and we are embarrassed by how much more they know and how "dumbed down" American education is and teachers are grossly inadequate and often inappropriate. The things they say to their students and the "buddy" attitude they have assures they will never have professional respect. Parents are told we are not our kids' friends; teachers should be told they are not "hip".

This document is a healthy one.
This writing has many ideas involved and cost factors that might make it difficult to dream as possible. Given that these difficulties might be set aside for the moment, it is a healthier vision than has been written for some time. It includes many of the newer applications and makes room for future progress.
As an educator I'm interested in the progressiveness of education and finding workable solutions that include healthy best practices and bring those into our shared educational awareness and teaching. A vision statement that addresses those and includes an, out of our normal boxes of teacher thinking, has our united efforts in mind. Thanks for taking the time to envision the future of education.

I am a veteran teacher who resides within the Chicagoland area. I am very excited about the RESPECT project, after having read through the vision statement.

I too, am quite interested in being a part of this innovative team of educators. May I be allowed to get on board with the 'chosen teachers'?

I hold a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education; I also have a Master of Education degree in Interdisciplinary Studies in Education, as well as a Master of Art's degree in Educational Administration. I'm currently in pursuit of my Doctoral degree in Educational Leadership. I currently possess Illinois state certificates: Types 3, 4 and 75.

I would love very much to become a part of this team. The RESPECT vision statement is something that definitely needs to come to fruition in the very near future. I'd like to assist in making that happen.


I can not WAIT to implement the vision. EXCELLENT work! Collectively, we are poised to proceed. Is there any chance one or more of the Ambassadors could join us in San Diego, on June 8 and 9 for a special reception and symposium with National Board Certified Teachers and administrators from CA, to roll this out. I have the RESPECT project on our agendas in alignment with several initatives; CETT, CCSSO- SCEE/ Learning Forward, NCATE/CAEP, AACTE, Lumina and TPAs).
If interested and possible, contact me for the details and preview agendas at

Five points to elevate the profession:

1. Raise entrance requirements for teacher colleges.

2. Immerse candidates in the school environment from square one.

3. Standardize teacher prep curriculum around current brain and classroom research.

4. Elevate the starting pay of teachers.

5. Design merit pay around:
a. Teacher participation in professional development and observed application of material presented.
b. Student growth, verified through monthly progress monitoring.

I'm very interested in RESPECT Project. I love the way the conversation empowers the entire organization. I am curious is to how this can be marketed and supported in a way to make meaningful change at the state level. My fear would be to have the great national ideals about education and they circle above what state agencies and non-profits are actually doing on the ground in the mix of classrooms and schools. I think we should begin our strategy for marketing and impact as we are engaging in the dialogue because it will take nothing short of the image power of McDonalds to see this type of change actualized at the school level.

Additionally, I believe we need to address the ever increasing alternative education influence and decide how their impact is ultimately changing what it means to be an educational professional. Just for example, While I love Teach For America, the model for TFA can be likened to a sprint. where they take raw talent and they ask them to "sacrifice" time, balance, developmental growth and experience" to make a change in the educational equality gap. As we increase the significant number of TFA members in schools you will decrease the long term career educators who we want to matriculate through this well developed resident, novice, professional, master, teacher leader principal track.

For clarity, I believe strongly in TFA and its efforts, but we must consider the impact of short term, shortcut professionals on the long term professional and profession. Additionally, we must also consider the New Leaders for New Schools which essentially does the same thing but for administrators. these professionals have little or no natural or learned context for leading education organizations but are short-termed and shortcut towards leading our new resident, novice, professional, master and teacher leaders. I would hate to think we are reverting back to the "Principal as Manager" model by training non-educators to be great managers and not instructional leaders from experience.

As a young leader, I'm often at odds with my own perspective because I don't believe that age and experience always trumps ability BUT, in our particular field I do believe there must be a better balance than our present arrangement.

Please consider this as food for thought and not a final remark on hardworking non-profits trying to make a difference in education.
I want to preserve the profession and I believe it's worth more than short-term fixes even at the expense of those short-term gains.