Teachers valued most in China

Teachers aren’t valued highly in 21 countries in the Varkey GEMS Foundation’s Global Teacher Status Index. China ranks first in respect for teachers. The U.S. is about average. Israel is last. Except for China, high status for teachers doesn’t correlate with high academic performance. Greece and Turkey respect their teachers, but post low scores on international tests. The Japanese are low on teacher status, high in test scores.

Status isn’t linked to salaries. In Greece the status of teachers is high, but their compensation is low. In Germany and Switzerland, teacher earnings are relatively high, respect is low.

The Chinese compare teachers to doctors. Americans see teachers as similar to librarians. In most countries surveyed, teachers are equated with social workers. However, in France and Turkey, they’re seen as most like nurses.

teacher status findings

Pay-for-performance is supported strongly just about everywhere, notes John Merrow of Learning Matters TV. In the U.S., 80 percent said teachers should be “rewarded in pay according to their pupils’ results.”

While most people said teachers should be paid more, they didn’t know how much teachers earn. Americans think “teachers make about $36,000 a year but believe they should paid about $40,000,” writes Merrow. “However, the true average salary, the study says, is $46,000.”

Would you want your child to be a public school teacher? A third of Americans would “probably” or “definitely” encourage their child to become a teacher. That’s higher than in 14 other countries. Half of Chinese, but only 8 percent of Israelis, would urge their children to consider teaching. I always thought Finns were high on their teachers, but only 20 percent said they’d want their own kids to be one in this survey.

If there are any Finns — and Israelis — reading, does this ring true?

Loving to hate the ‘bad teacher’

“Bad” teachers are hot, writes Dana Goldstein. ”The bad teacher has also become an overhyped target for our national anxiety about public education.”

In Alissa Nutting’s new novel, Tampa, a Florida middle-school teacher lures two eighth-grade boys into sexual relationships.

(Celeste) Price is a coldhearted nymphomaniac who, after feeding her sexual needs, wishes for the deaths of her victims. She is based on Debra Lafave, a real-life Tampa pedophiliac teacher — and former high school classmate of Nutting’s — who avoided jail time after her lawyer argued that she was too beautiful to get locked up.

. . . Though the writing in Tampa is pedestrian in comparison with Nabokov’s Lolita, the great classic on which it is based, it certainly represents a gutsy attempt by a young, female author to embody a wholly unsympathetic female narrator and probe the question of whether society lets women essentially get away with crimes for which men are excoriated.

Sexually abusive teachers exist, but they’re very rare, Goldstein points out.

Price, who’s depicted as a lousy teacher, has one ally, “an obese, ‘joyless’ woman who seems to hate children and eventually loses her job after cursing out students and throwing a chair,” Goldstein observes. Although most of the action takes place in a school, Tampa portrays no competent teachers.

The Cameron Diaz movie, Bad Teacher, will become a TV series about a “former trophy wife who masquerades as a teacher” to find a new sugar daddy.  (Who looks for a wealthy husband in a school?)  It’s a “vote of no confidence” in teachers, writes Lisa Suhay on Christian Science Monitor.

The premise, which plays to every possible negative stereotype of educators and women, may make the grade with network executives, but it will set up middle- and high-school teachers for failure in the eyes of students who watch the show.

The movie teachers that “being a narcissistic, sadistic, incompetent teacher is cool” and “bullying is funny,” writes Suhay. Also, “competent teachers are socially inept, overweight, clueless, and timid.”

A sequel to the movie, Bad Teacher 2, is in the works.

Teaching Trayvon

Common Core standards drafters want inner-city students to reach high standards, but don’t want teachers to “link literature to our students’ strengths,” writes John Thompson in the Huffington Post. That doesn’t show respect for students, he believes.

If he was back in the classroom, Thompson would be playing Bruce Springsteen’s American Skin:

41 shots, Lena gets her son ready for school
She says now on these streets Charles
You got to understand the rules
Promise me if an officer stops you’ll always be polite
Never ever run away and promise mama you’ll keep your hands in sight

The song always sparked discussion, Thompson writes.

In the first verse, Springsteen wrote from the perspective of the white New York City cops who shot a Nigerian immigrant, Amadou Diallo, 41 times thinking he had a gun, even though it was his wallet. “Forty-one shots, and we’ll take this ride, cross the bloody river, to the other side.”

The second verse was from the perspective of a black mother warning her son in case he was racially profiled. The third verse was from a universal perspective as we are “baptized in each others’ blood,” and a crucial change is made in the chorus, “Is it a gun? Is it a knife? Is it in your heart? Is it in your sight?”

Asked the source of Springsteen’s image of “the river,” a girl replied, “Langston Hughes!”

“Great,” I answered, throwing a copy of Hughes’ poems to her, “Support your answer.”

Kesha read, “I’ve known rivers: Ancient, dusky rivers. My soul has grown deep like the rivers….”

When “curriculum alignment became the district’s gospel,” Thompson played the song during orientation to illustrate issues that would be studied in Government and help English teachers teach “repetition, point of view and metaphor.” A high level administrator objected. “Our kids don’t have time for Bruce Springsteen.”

Gallup: Teachers are happy, but stressed

U.S. teachers are happy with their lives but stressed on the job, concludes a Gallup survey. Compared to other occupation groups, teachers rank very high in emotional and physical wellbeing.

Teachers get more joy from life than people in other professions. They’re more likely to say they smiled or laughed a lot yesterday. But teachers also report high levels of stress, second only to physicians. Teachers rank sixth in saying their “supervisor treats me more like a partner than a boss.” And they are last –14th — in saying their “supervisor always creates an environment that is trusting and open.”

Flexibility, respect cuts teacher turnover

Rachel Spector quit teaching in low-performing, all-minority East Palo Alto (California) after four years, “squashed” by pressure to teach in a prescribed way to raise test scores.  ”I didn’t feel respected.”

After a year teaching in San Francisco, which was even worse, she returned to teach seventh-grade English and social studies at Costaño School in East Palo Alto’s Ravenswood district. Principal Gina Sudaria promised, “As long as you’re teaching the standards and you’re teaching at a rigorous level, you can teach however you want to.”

“More and more, I’m the instructional leader of my classroom,” Spector says. 

Long plagued by high teacher turnover, Ravenswood is trying to keep good teachers by giving them more flexibility and input, reports the Peninsula Press.

Ravenswood teachers cope with big challenges — 77 percent of students aren’t proficient in English — for less pay than teachers in nearby affluent districts. Teachers start at $42,460, almost 20 percent lower than neighboring Menlo Park and Palo Alto.

 At Costaño, a K-8 school, Principal Sudaria uses peer coaches to help teachers learn from each other. She also stresses collaborative decision-making.

“Teachers are the ones who are doing the groundwork every single day, so their input and their knowledge needs to be highly valued,” she said.

The staff is divided into five committees that meet weekly on topics involving curriculum, safety and parent outreach. Sudaria said that allowing them to be involved beyond their teaching or support role gets everyone more invested in the school.

Turnover is down and the school’s Academic Performance Index score has increased from 612 to 783 in the past four years, nearing the state’s goal of 800.

When the teacher is wrong — and a bully

It’s illegal to disrespect the president, a North Carolina high school teacher told a student in an audiotape that turned up on YouTube. The social studies teacher raised the Washington Post story charging Romney bullied a high school classmate with long hair, reports the Salisbury Post.  A student responded that Obama has admitted bullying a girl in school.  (In Dreams From My Father, Obama writes that he pushed down an unpopular black girl in — I think it was sixth grade — after he was teased about her being his “girlfriend.”)

“Stop, no, because there is no comparison,” (the teacher) says. Romney, she says, is “running for president. Obama is the president.”

When the student says they’re both “just men,” the teacher continues to argue that Romney, as a candidate for president, is not to be afforded the same respect as the president.

The teacher tells the class Obama is “due the respect that every other president is due.”

“Listen, let me tell you something, you will not disrespect the president of the United States in this classroom,” she says.

. . . Later in the conversation, the teacher tells the class it’s criminal to slander a president.

“Do you realize that people were arrested for saying things bad about Bush?” she says of former President Bush. “Do you realize you are not supposed to slander the president?”

The student responds by saying being arrested for talking badly about the president would violate the right to free speech.

“You would have to say some pretty f’d up crap about him to be arrested,” he says. “They cannot take away your right to have your opinion. … They can’t take that away unless you threaten the president.”

The student is correct, of course. The teacher is . . . Sadly misinformed and a bit of a bully.

RESPECT for teachers (and their unions)

RESPECT, which stands for Recognizing Educational Success, Professional Excellence, and Collaborative Teaching is the administration’s new competitive grant idea for education. The $5 billion would reward states and districts that work with teachers and their unions, education schools and others to remake teaching. Education Secretary Arne Duncan gave no specifics, but Ed Week’s Politics K-12 suggests some possibilities:

. . . overhaul teachers’ colleges to make them more selective, create career ladders for teachers, give extra money to teachers who work in tough environments, bolster professional development, revamp tenure, craft evaluation systems, and make teachers’ salaries more competitive with other professions.

Dennis Van Roekel, the president of the National Education Association, is all for it.

A new $5 billion spending program has little chance of being approved, notes Politics K-12. The money is part of the $60 billion American Jobs Act proposal, “which is going absolutely nowhere in Congress.”

It’s an election year, and President Obama—and other Democrats—are expected to face a tough campaign season. They’ll almost certainly need help from the teachers’ unions blockbuster get-out-the-vote apparatus. Proposing a bunch of new money to improve the teaching profession might go a long way to assuaging educators—and their unions—who are less than thrilled with the administration’s focus on using student test scores to at least partially inform teacher evaluations.

Turn out the vote now, but will he respect you in the morning?

A lesson in respect

After the Gunderson High basketball coach suspended five starters for tardiness, back talking and disrespect in late December, the whole team walked out. The San Jose school’s coach, Mike Allen, called up freshmen and sophomores from the JV squad. The team is losing every game by large margins, reports the San Jose Mercury News. That’s not important, says the coach.

Allen said he had given his players “two, three, four chances” to turn around their attitudes and prove their commitment to the team before suspending the five for what was supposed to be the winter break.

Instead, he said, they continued to talk back, disregard his instruction and showboat on the court.

“These kids nowadays feel they are privileged and have a right,” Allen said. “But they fail to realize what being part of a team is about.”

The mutineers blame a “power-hungry” coach.

“We weren’t being that disrespectful,” said Eddie Perez, a senior who walked out with the suspended players. “He wants to run the team his way and doesn’t listen to our own opinions.”

Lesson not learned, apparently.  Good luck in your first job, Eddie. And your second job. And, if you continue to be a slow learner, your third job.

Would you teach? 'No way'

Hilary Lustick’s New York City students say they respect black and brown teachers but act up when teachers are suburban whites. But they don’t want to become the teachers they’d like to have, she writes on Gotham Schools.

Two students help with teaching in her sixth-period class.

They reinforce my routines with more precision than I do, insisting on total silence before they will call on a student and flat-out berating any out-of-turn or disrespectful comments. . . . These young women agree they have the organizational skills and classroom presence of natural educators, but neither would ever consider teaching high school. Alissa, who is blunt and would probably make a kick-butt high school teacher, says flatly, “No way. I see how we treat you guys.”

Students rarely see teachers who grew up in their communities and returned to teach,  “infusing the structures they need to succeed with the cultural tones and signals that will make them feel self-edifying and not submissive to the white man,” Lustick writes.

Because she doesn’t see strong teacher role models like herself, Alissa dismisses the entire profession as one unworthy of respect, one undeserving of her intelligence and effort.

It sounds like Alissa thinks teaching in the inner city is a very difficult job. Which it is.

‘Customers’ replace students

College students see themselves as “customers” who are always right, a professor complains.  He must cater to their “learning styles” to show respect, but they don’t feel obliged to turn off their cell phones in class.

Also on Community College Spotlight: Associate degrees and job-specific credentials will help close the skills gap, says a new report, which urges businesses to work with colleges to create “earn and learn” opportunities.