From our steadfast reader and superb researcher, Laura Chapman, retired arts educator:



Here is an example of the empty rhetoric from the Obama/Duncan administration, still in play and revealing a totally corrupted set of meanings for trust and respect.


The Obama/Duncan administration launched the so-called RESPECT program for “Recognizing Educational Success, Professional Excellence And Collaborative Teaching” in 2013. RESPECT was nothing more than a pitch from McKinsey & Co. for teachers to give up all quests for job security and embrace longer hours, fewer days off, tiers of merit pay for raising test scores (minimum “a year’s worth of growth” every year) and so on.
USDE enlisted board certified teachers, teachers of the year, and Presidential fellows to endorse and to market these ideas in meetings they were to convene in every state. These spokespersons and meeting conveners were given a draft of the RESPECT proposal to distribute, a fully scripted discussion protocol and time allocations for pacing the meeting (as if the teachers could not be trusted to lead a meeting.) The conveners were asked to distribute a participant form, solicit written comments from every participant on sections of the proposal. These written comments became the “feedback loop” for tailoring the next rounds of marketing. The project was not much more than a large scale series of focus groups from credible leaders, achieved at low cost. It traded on the aura of respect attained by the teachers, but it did trust them to engage in pro-actively in any critically informed discussions about their profession. McKinsey & Co.’s role in this was not advertised.

The Obama/Duncan administration’s trust in teachers and respect for them as professionals is/was nil. Nothing came from the RESPECT program. Apart from marketing USDE’s marketing of that plan, the consultants at McKinsey & Co. continue to earn big fees for the same boilerplate “fixes” for teaching, for school districts, and entire states. The formula is cut, cut, cut.extract more bang for the buck by any means you can get away with.



Marketing campaigns framed as “conversations” are IN, so are faux-conversations about elevating the profession, “lifting” it up, “rebranding” this work, calling for “great teachers, great schools, and great leaders…while forwarding the commercialization of these ratings via data feeds to fake non-profit sites like—data for sale there, ready to exploit package deals including access to “site traffic data ” tailored to your interests and wallet.



The Obama/Duncan regime in education is coming to a close, but the rhetorical moves it has used to delineate expectations and roles for teachers is still in place: the oxymoronic concept of “impacting student growth,” the mindless demands for “rigorous” and “high quality” this or that. The pompous rhetoric of “elevating” the profession of teacher and of “lifting up” teacher voices—nothing more than marketing drivel to diminish professional autonomy and hype short-cuts for entry into the enter teaching.



Now there are efforts to just rebrand the profession of teaching. I kid you not, expertise from graphic designers, funding from the National Endowment of the Arts, replying on the high arts and developed craft skills of aesthetic persuasion. Check out the rebranding project here: