USDOE program aims to elevate status of teachers

Published on Friday, March 9, 2012

The U.S. Department of Education has launched a project to ensure that teaching is highly respected and supported as a profession. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the program called RESPECT (Recognizing Educational Success, Professional Excellence, and Collaborative Teaching) at a town hall meeting last month.

Duncan called for “a radical transformation of the profession,” stating that the U.S. must develop pioneering innovations in the way it recruits, selects, prepares, licenses, supports, advances, and compensates teachers and school leaders.

To bring this vision to fruition, President Barack Obama has proposed a new $5 billion competitive grant program in his 2013 budget to support states and districts that “commit to pursuing bold reforms at every stage of the teaching profession.”

Duncan explained that RESPECT is an opportunity for policymakers to work with unions at all levels, subject areas groups, and education reform groups, such as Educators 4 Excellence, the National Teacher Project and Teach Plus.

Key elements of the program include:

  • Attracting top-tier talent into education and preparing them for success by encouraging colleges of education to be more selective and improving preservice programs.
  • Creating a professional continuum through career ladders so teachers don’t have to leave the classroom to broaden their impact (mentors, master teachers, teacher leaders).
  • Competitive compensation that would reflect the quality of educators’ work (as measured, in part, by their students’ performance) and the scope of their professional responsibilities.
  • Creating conditions for success, such as more time for collaboration.
  • An improved evaluation system that includes peer review, observations and student feedback.
  • Tenure reform.
  • Higher pay for teachers who work in high-need schools or in hard-to-staff subjects.

If Congress rejects this item in the president’s proposed budget, it is unclear how the USDOE will fund the RESPECT proposal.

More information on RESPECT is available at

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