Respect For Teachers

The New York Times had an interesting article earlier this week about Diane Ravitch, an education historian and former official with the U.S. Department of Education.  She recently went public with dramatically changed views on standardized testing and charter schools. It's a nice story about a person's willingness to examine core opinions and basic assumptions in the face of adverse career and political consequences. The article also raises the issue of Respect for People. This quote particularly caught my attention:

“Nations like Finland and Japan seek out the best college graduates for teaching positions, prepare them well, pay them well and treat them with respect,” she said. “They make sure that all their students study the arts, history, literature, geography, civics, foreign languages, the sciences and other subjects. They do this because this is the way to ensure good education. We’re on the wrong track.”

I think educators are highly respected for what they do, but our system doesn't reflect it by providing good compensation, career opportunities, and autonomy. I wonder how many of the problems in our educational system can be traced back to this fundamental problem.

Would focusing on this single flaw -- one that is highly interrelated to other elements in the system -- make a big difference?

D. Mark Jackson