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Encouraging teachers will improve education

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KATIE BIESTER
June 4, 2012
This is among commentaries submitted to The Gazette from students at Janesville’s Craig and Parker high schools who did field studies in either Washington, D.C., or Madison in Advanced Placement U.S. government courses taught by Joe Van Rooy.

Recently, it has become apparent that there is a great lack of respect for the teaching profession. The U.S. educational system cannot make progress if the teaching profession does not make progress, as well.


In his book “Finnish Lessons,” Pasi Salberg highlights the “focus on professionalizing teachers’ work, developing instructional leadership in schools, and enhancing trust in teachers and schools” that helped the Finnish education system become a world power over three decades. In Finland, there is a level of professional esteem that Salberg says is “similar to that of medical doctors, engineers or economists.”


In America, however, the same cannot be said. America as a whole is far from attaining the ideals of the Finnish system. According to Emily Kingsland of the National Center on Education and the Economy, it is essential that teachers “feel like part of the solution, not the problem,” in order to make sufficient progress.


One solution may come in the form of the RESPECT Program, introduced by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in February 2012. This program seeks “to work with teachers and principals in rebuilding their profession and to elevate the teacher voice in federal, state and local education policy,” bringing teachers closer to the reform process to hopefully “make teaching not only America’s most important profession but also America’s most respected profession.”


As shown by Finland’s decades-long journey, this is not a change that can happen overnight. However, it is essential to bettering the state of the American education system.



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