Poll: Teachers don’t get no respect

While nearly four in five Americans (79 percent) believe students respected teachers when they were in school, only 31 percent say students respect teachers today, according to a Harris Poll.

Parents and teachers used to respect each other, say 91 percent of respondents.  These days, only 49 percent said parents respect teachers and 64 percent said teachers respect parents.

When they were in school, 86 percent said teachers respected students, but only 61 percent say that is true today. Adults said administrators’ respect for teacher has declined too: 88 percent believe the administration respected teachers when they were in school, while 58 percent say that’s true today.

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  1. Ann in L.A. says:

    I was thinking about this the other day after hearing a story about a teachers’ union trying to keep bad teachers working, but to merely offer them “counseling” on how to be better. This followed the news that several unions were supporting teachers whose districts were trying to get them removed for sexual malfeasance with students–which to everyone else is a no-brainer. And that was a couple of days after the video of a teacher twerking in front of her class went viral.

    As long as ineffective, criminal, and abusive teachers remain among the ranks, how can the rest of them earn respect? It can make an entire school look bad to have a couple of ineffective teachers. I’m sure every school has to deal with the phone calls that come in the day that the new school year’s class assignments come out, as parents who got stuck with the awful teachers all try to transfer out of the class. (One of our kids had a teacher who cut his toenails in the back of the classroom and smacked her in the head with a workbook–he’d done both in previous years and was still teaching.)

    What does that even do to morale among the staff of a school? It’s not like the other teachers don’t know about the ones who should be booted out. It’s not like they can’t tell which students had a good teacher the previous year and which ones didn’t.

    So, if teachers want more respect, perhaps they should get their unions to stop protecting the people who have no business being in a classroom.

    • I can only surmise you don’t understand unions if you expect unions to do anything other then protect members regardless of their actions.

      If union leadership’s seen as being anything but uncritically supportive of the union membership, even when the member’s engaged in some pretty reprehensible behavior, that leadership’s could get bounced at the next union election.

      It doesn’t happen often but it happens often enough that union leadership can’t afford to forgo some pretty outrageous transgressions to make sure the membership knows where the leadership’s loyalties lie.

      “As long as ineffective, criminal, and abusive teachers remain among the ranks, how can the rest of them earn respect?”

      In short, who cares?

      The kids will show up and the budget money will show up. As long as the paychecks clear the lack of respect is tolerable. For those teachers who can’t deal with that situation there’s always a career change and don’t let the doorknob kit you in the ass.

  2. I was going to post a comment, but Ann pretty much said what I was planning on saying.

  3. I also wonder how when people answer these polls, how they are defining respect?
    I think years ago, respect in part meant not questioning those in authority positions. What does it mean now, I wonder?

    • >respect in part meant not questioning those in authority positions

      No, this should never be a sign of respect. Respect means RESPECTFULLY questioning those in authority.

      That said, my parents default position when we were in school was always “your teacher is right and you need to do as told.” I get the feeling that isn’t the way it is these days.

      Interestingly, we kids knew which teachers deserved respect and which didn’t. We ran roughshod* over a particular physics teacher who didn’t know much about physics (he was a re-tasked math teacher who kept about a chapter ahead of us in the textbook). Most of what we learned in that class came from paying the teacher no attention (the poor guy had personal problems: his wife ran off with the hairy krishnas and took the kids with her) and instead teaching each other. I would argue that, from about middle school on, kids are smart enough to know which teachers deserve respect and which don’t.

      * I don’t mean we were rude or abusive; we just took matters into our own hands and set our own agenda. The teacher was helpful when we got into math we didn’t understand, but otherwise just stood aside and let us take over.

      • Ann in L.A. says:

        We’ve told ours that they have to do what the teachers want, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they deserve respect. Same goes for their working life. They have to do what the boss asks, whether it makes any sense or not. In that way, school is good practice!

  4. Roger Sweeny says:

    When I was younger, we had to walk five miles to school, uphill each way.

  5. And if these folks are parents, are they doing anything to discourage their students from being disruptive (which I would consider the most obvious and damaging form of disrespect, as it prevents others from learning)?

    I suspect a lot of the results of this is the “Things were better when I was a kid” effect.

    • Richard Aubrey says:

      Maybe they were.
      Problem for the teachers as a whole, if the discussion of unions suppoprting losers is correct, is that they belong to a group which supports losers and abusers.
      Hard to expect respect. Unless one is outspokenly opposed to various union actions–fighting the terminiation of sexual predators, for example–and I mean extremely publically outspoken, you are going to be suspected of at least passive complicity.
      Whether anything can be done about the unions protecting losers and abusers is a separate question.

  6. George Larson says:

    Different reasons for the lack of respect for teachers

    A few generations ago teachers were among the best educated in their communities. Today, not so much.

    Schools were a more transparent bureaucracy back in the “good old days”

    Schools didn’t constantly pursue fads.

  7. Crimson Wife says:

    I’m tail end of Gen X, almost Gen Y (born in ’77). My peers and I respected teachers who were smart & competent, and did not respect the ones who weren’t.

    For example, as smart alecky sophomores, one of my friends and I had a running bet to see what idiotic statements we could get our English teacher to make to our class. We were not overtly disrespectful (and frankly I don’t think our teacher had a CLUE what we were up to), but there was a definite lack of respect on our part.