Professional Development

Why Isn’t the U.S. Proud of Its Teachers?

By Liana Loewus — March 25, 2011 1 min read

Stanford professor Linda Darling-Hammond, who also attended the International Summit on Teaching in New York last week, has posted a blog post highlighting positive rhetoric used by the foreign guests in reference to teachers.

In a statement rarely heard these days in the United States, the Finnish Minister of Education launched the first session of last week's with the words: "We are very proud of our teachers." Her statement was so appreciative of teachers' knowledge, skills, and commitment that one of the U.S. participants later confessed that he thought she was the teacher union president, who, it turned out, was sitting beside her agreeing with her account of their jointly-constructed profession.

And at the roundtable discussions, she writes, there was “no teacher-bashing, no discussion of removing collective bargaining rights, no proposals for reducing preparation for teaching, no discussion of closing schools or firing bad teachers, and no proposals for ranking teachers based on their students’ test scores.” Instead, nations shared experiences on what works, such as high-quality preparation programs, federally funded training, and unions and governments working together.

She contrasts this with “the growing de-professionalization of teaching in America.”

What are your thoughts? Why are teachers in the U.S. treated differently (at least based on anecdotal evidence) by policymakers and political officials? Has recent negativity about teachers hindered effective policymaking?

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.