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RESPECT…Something New for Teachers???

By: Donna Hupe
Posted Mon., February 27, 2012

It appears that the federal government and the Department of Education are engaged in yet another project linked with education.  The project has been called RESPECT…an acronym for Recognizing Educational Success, Professional Excellence and Collaborative Teaching.  This project was launched recently whenever President Obama presented the administration’s 2013 Budget.  It includes “a new $5 billion competitive program to challenge states and districts to work with teachers, unions, colleges of education and other stakeholders to comprehensively reform the field of teaching. The proposal touches on every phase of teaching from training and tenure to compensation and career opportunities.” (http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases)

How could this project be different from others that have been proposed and executed by Congress in the past years?  Here are a few of the reforms that will be discussed in Congress regarding the adoption of RESPECT:

  • There is a strong desire on the parts of the government to reform teacher colleges.  This means that expectations will be increased whenever it comes to teacher preparation making the colleges more selective.
  • Discussion will be held regarding how to create “new career ladders for teachers”.  This could definitely be welcomed by teachers since there are usually no promotions whenever it comes to the career of teaching as there are in business.
  • It appears that many believe there should be higher compensations to teachers who work in challenging learning environments.  This point could be supported by those teachers who are making a difference in the schools that have students coming from low economic areas/distinct rural areas.  Some believe that their challenges are greater than what teachers face in other districts which have better equipped schools and classrooms.
  • One particular point in RESPECT that would be welcomed by all educators is linked with providing more time for collaboration and improving professional development.  Teachers need both of these in order to provide the best education to their students.

President Obama stated in his latest State of the Union Address "Give [schools] the resources to keep good teachers on the job, and reward the best ones. In return, grant schools flexibility: To teach with creativity and passion; to stop teaching to the test; and to replace teachers who just aren't helping kids learn. That's a bargain worth making." (ed.gov)  Teachers would probably agree with most of that statement.

What is lacking presently…trust on the parts of teachers, administrators, and others who play a significant role in educating children in America.  It would be wonderful for everyone to believe that this time…RESPECT will be the proposal that actually does reach out to educators.  The one reform that involves “building an evaluation system based on multiple measures, not just test scores” appears to be a response to the cry that teachers have been issuing…”We need to be assessed based on all that we do in the classrooms and schools not just based on our students’ scores on state tests.” 

It is very important that anyone linked with the career of teaching or any education majors preparing to be teachers focus on the developments linked with this latest proposal called RESPECT.  It is just possible that if this proposal is adopted by Congress and truly represents what Arne Duncan stated…that begin to change the negative views of teaching…teachers may regain the dignity and “respect” they deserve when it comes to their efforts.

Other links that help explain RESPECT are:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/15/education/white-house-proposes-5-billion-in-grants-to-overhaul-teaching.html 

(NY Times article – NEA President responds favorably)

http://www.educationvotes.nea.org/2012/02/20/education-department-launches-respect-proposal-on-teacher-quality/ 

(NEA response to RESPECT)

http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/obama-administration-seeks-elevate-teaching-profession-duncan-launch-respect-pro 

(information from ed.gov)

http://www.ed.gov/news/speeches/teachers-get-r-e-s-p-e-c-t 

(remarks by Arne Duncan)

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Donna Hupe,
Education

Donna Hupe teaches ED 101 – Field Experience I and has been a Pre-Student Teacher/Student Teacher Supervisor at Saint Vincent College for the past five and a half years.