Friday, October 05, 2018
It Appears That Teacher Respect Is Making A Comeback
Over the past couple of year American altitudes toward teacher reputation and respect has been improving. The Answer Sheet wrote an article that, using Time Magazine's cover page, showed how teachers were thought of at the beginning of the Obama Administration and what's happening presently. Also, Education Week wrote a similar piece.
At the beginning of the Obama tenure as President, his administration embraced the education reform movement that demonize teachers. Starting with his nomination of Arnie Duncan as Education Secretary, who single handedly destroyed the Chicago Public Schools that resulted in many schools closing and teachers terminated. Then Obama blamed teachers in Rhode Island for the low test scores, conveniently ignoring that the high school he cited was composed of recent immigrants and English Language Learners. Obama was a strong supporter of education reform and along with then Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his billionaire buddies like Bill Gates, Eli Broad, and the Walton family, decided to evaluate teacher competence by student test scores.
Washington D.C. Chancellor Michelle Rhee, was the "rock star" of the reform movement. She imposed a teacher evaluation system that entirely relied on test scores. The result was that many Washington D.C.teachers were unfairly fired. Moreover, the Obama administration bribed states to develop their own test-based teacher evaluation system by giving them money as they were cutting education funds due to the recession. This was called Race to the Top Finally, the reform movement had the media as allies as teachers were the blame for all school ills. An example was Time magazine's cover called "Rotten Apples", which demonized teachers.
When states adopted the education reform programs and they failed to improve student academic achievement, .the Obama administration backed away by not supplying additional funding as the President also facing reelection and realized that his ant-public school teacher and pro charter agenda was a political liability. Of course his teacher evaluation systems were now part of every state's education policy. By the last year of the Obama administration, Arnie Duncan was gone and the charter school miracle was a mirage.
The combination of a recession, the Obama administration, and the media, teacher disrespect was at its peak. Since 2000, teacher salaries were noncompetitive, when compared to other professions and even conservative parents now support teacher demands for higher salaries, small classes, and more respect. States like West Virginia, Oklahoma, Washington, and Arizona saw teacher salaries increase and teacher respect becoming an issue.
Let's hope that the teaching profession becomes a respected profession throughout the nation.