Time to Stop “Appreciating” Teachers & Start Admiring Them

In Washington, DC, public-school teachers can make $100,000 after just four years on the job. Young teachers are buying apartments and sports cars. Finally.

But a curious thing has happened along the way. The public conversation has not kept up with the policy. Parents and pundits don't seem to realize that teachers are now true professionals—the kind who do complex, intellectual work for which they are duly compensated. With the best of intentions, people still talk down to teachers in subtle ways, underestimating their work and overestimating their sacrifices.

“When I tell people I’m a teacher, they say, ‘Oh, my gosh—that’s God’s work. Thank you.’ What they’re basically saying is ‘Thank you for doing that job so that I don’t have to.’ They’re missing that I am not actually sacrificing to do this. I’m working extremely hard because I believe in this intellectual journey—for my students and also for me. It is deeply engaging.” —Hope Harrod, DC's 2012 Teacher of the Year

It's time for the sad-sack narrative to evolve. As long as teachers are treated like charity cases, they will never get the power they deserve. Here's my rant at Washingtonian Magazine.