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Teachers Opinions ARE Impacting Leaders Opinions and Positive Action!

The U.S. Department of Education RESPECT PROJECT
The U.S. Department of Education RESPECT PROJECT

Since following the RESPECT project, I’ve had my doubts as to what would really happen as a result of the hard work of these 16 Educators – but am thrilled with the action the US Department of Education is taking! You’ll recall this is a group of teachers retained by the US Department of Education to listen in “round table discussions” to the voices of thousands of other teachers to create an in-depth document outlining recommendations for improving our education system to make success a reality for every child. The RESPECT Project: Envisioning a Teaching Profession for the 21st Century. (Recognizing Educational Success, Professional Excellence and Collaborative Teaching) is intended to elevate the teaching profession and provide a way for teachers to voice their concerns and ideas.

Well, these teachers’ voices ARE impacting change – I can’t believe it myself! We know how rare this is. We’ve heard teachers express publically on venues such as an NBC Education Nation's Town Hall their desire to share ideas and be at the table. We've been a part of the private "teacher to teacher" conversations (in my case for over 20 years) where educators say with such frustration “Why should I say anything or make any suggestions when no one will listen.” Or, “We are never invited to the table and my opinion will never influence any change.” Now we have a shift in the dynamic, and I want to you to see the very real impact this project is having to bring the voice of teachers to influence positive change.

Leaders in our country are listening:

  • The outcome of the recent Labor Management Conference 2012 is a vision statement calling for a rise in respect for teachers. It ends with… “It is the spirit of collaboration that we offer in this joint statement on elevating the teaching profession to improve the education of our students.” This was signed by Arne Duncan/US Secretary of Education, Daniel Domenech/Executive Director - American Association of School Administrators, Anne Bryant/Executive Director - National School Boards Association, Dennis Van Rockel/President-National Education Association, Michael Casserly/Executive Director - Council of the Great City Schools, Randi Weingarten/President – American Federation of Teachers, George Cohen/Director – Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service and Gene Wilhoit/Executive Director- Council of Chief State School Officers. Read for yourself the entire document titled “Transforming the Teaching Profession”   
  • The US Department of Education has put forth two competitive grants this spring and summer that were directly influenced by the RESPECT project document. They are listed below with the original memo title and the leading statements of purpose:  

  - A FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, June 8, 2012 2012 Teacher Incentive Fund Invites Districts to Pursue a New Vision for Human Capital Through Stronger Evaluations and Greater Professional Opportunities Competition Includes New Priority for STEM, Competitive Preferences for Rural Districts and Salary Structures Based on Effectiveness. This round of the competition includes a new focus on supporting district-wide evaluation systems that reward success, offer greater professional opportunities, and drive decision-making on recruitment, development, and retention of effective teachers and principals. “TIF 2012 will reward districts that go beyond simple merit-pay programs to create systems of professional support and career ladders that help keep talent in schools and classrooms with the greatest need.” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

   - FOR RELEASE: May 22, 2012 District-Level Race to the Top to Focus on the Classroom, Provide Tools to Enhance Learning and Serve the Needs of Every Student 2012 Competition Proposal Available for Public Comment Until June 8 The U.S. Department of Education announced today proposed criteria for the 2012 Race to the Top program - a nearly $400 million competition that invites school districts to create plans for individualized classroom instruction aimed at closing achievement gaps and preparing each student for college and career. “We need to take classroom learning beyond a one-size-fits-all model and bring it into the 21st century,” Duncan said.

Let’s stay tuned ( ) and share this information with as many as we can – and remember that change happens locally with one teacher, one classroom, one school at a time.

How encouraging to know that YOUR VOICE is important – right?!