In New Federal Program to Reward Teachers, Flawed Assumptions

I wrote my latest piece for the New York Times in response to a focus group on the US Department of Education’s proposed Project Respect in which I participated last month.  Like far too many education policies, in Project Respect I saw some good ideas poorly implemented:

Project Respect calls for a three-pronged reform of the teaching profession. It envisions a reorganization of schools that would use technology and aides to put more effective teachers in front of more students, coupled with a longer school day to give teachers more time for professional growth.

To find more effective teachers, it calls for an expansion of entry points into the profession, with a higher bar for earning a permanent position. Finally, it calls for increased compensation for career teachers who both stay in the classroom and take on various teacher-leader roles.

That prong shares much with the insightful prescriptions of the book “Teaching 2030,” written by the Center for Teaching Quality’s Barnett Berry and a group of 12 teachers that included my New York colleagues Jose Vilson and Ariel Sacks.

Establishing a variety of advanced teacher roles, with appropriately high compensation, is a necessary move toward professionalizing teaching in America, and I applaud this move.

Giving highly effective teachers more time to serve in roles other than classroom teachers is an important step toward improving our system. However, it is imperative to remember that the qualities that make me a highly effective teacher are not necessarily those that would make me an effective teacher-leader.

Read the piece here, and I hope some people will join in the comments.