If an educated population is very important, why are teachers in the US not respected (and trusted) as much as they are in other countries?
Thank you for this question. As an educator, I am saddened by this way of thinking in America. Of course there are a plethora of reasons why this is the case; however, in my opinion, I believe that since there are so many jobs (and...well-paying jobs at that) which can be secured without a formal education, the idea of education itself, as well as teachers, are no longer respected. Nowadays, teachers are unfortunately seen more often as "babysitters" who happen to teach children. The emphasis has shifted from actually educating children to maintaining student behavior and having children in a safe place while mommy and daddy goes to work. It's not that teachers have stopped teaching, it's just that society doesn't view teaching as a prestigious career...often due to the low pay that teachers get. This is why teachers teach because they have a passion or desire to affect lives, and do not teach for the money. And, for this...society should be more grateful.
During my professional career and training I have had a number of mentors from other countries and have seen how academicians are treated in other countries. The best answer to your question was one given to me when I was an undergraduate. Education is seen as a good second job. Meaning it is a good job for a woman to supplement the household income of a husband that is the major bread winner. You also have state legislatures that speak down to educators because it is an expensive of the state budget. Heck, in Texas, they balanced the state's budget by taking $5.6 billion away from public education but cut business taxes. But public school administrators also look down on teachers. I was admonished during a meeting when I suggested that a student of mine exhibited characteristics of having cerebral palsy. The principal stood corrected when the mother told her that the family neurologist just diagnosed her that morning with cp. Not three weeks later she was walking in the hall with her brother, a medical doctor, that stopped me and shook my hand. He told his sister that I was his "neuro" professor in medical school. She was unaware I also was an adjunct professor at two different universities. Though I enjoy teaching at upper level universities, the public school population is the one I love and if you love what you are doing everything else happens. But I will add, you have to be active in politics because they will continue to dump on you and you shouldn't have to take it.