Tag Archives: Arne Duncan

“Stupid, absurd, non-defensible”: New NEA president Lily Eskelsen García on the problem with Arne Duncan, standardized tests and the war on teachers – Salon.com

31 Jul

For years, politicians and policy leaders have been running the nation’s public education system basically by the seat of the pants, drafting and passing legislative doctrine that mostly ignores the input from classroom teachers, research experts and public school parents.

Just the latest example of this fly-by-night leadership came from Rand Paul, the senator from Kentucky and expected GOP presidential contender. According to the Politico newsletter, Paul is “planning a major push on education reform, including ‘education choice, school choice, vouchers, charter schools, you name it.”

‘Gotta love the “you name it” proposal, don’t you? So reassuring to parents. “Relax, we’re enrolling your kid in the ‘You Name It’ program this year. Everything will be fine.”

In an astonishing display of incoherence, he told the Politico reporter how much he, and his children, had benefited from traditional public schools – “I grew up and went to public schools. My kids have gone to public schools” – and then suggested we create something that looks nothing like them.

“Have one person in the country who is, like, the best at explaining calculus … teach every calculus class in the country,” he rambled, in belief, somehow, that having “2 million people in the classroom” would ensure more children “have a teacher that may be having a more hands-on approach.” Really?

Have education policies from the Democratic Party been any better?

Apparently, most teachers don’t think so. As Politico, again, reported, teachers are organizing at an unprecedented level. Through their unions, teachers have amassed “tens of millions in cash” and have acquired “new data mining tools that let them personalize pitches to voters,” in an effort to “run a huge get-out-the-vote effort.”

Education Week suggested that a “new era” in teacher organizing has begun, with “a remarkable policy convergence, portending what could indeed be a more unified response to national and state education issues.

“The convergence, observers say, is the product not only of the unions’ need to assume a defensive posture in the face of legislative and legal attacks, but also of the pressure brought by internal factions that have urged the unions to take a tougher stance against market-based education policies.”

What’s got teachers stirred up? How real and potent is this upsurge of their activism? Why should people who identify with progressive causes care? Salon recently posed those questions, and others, to Lily Eskelsen García, the new president-elect of the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers’ union, at the recent Netroots Nation conference in Detroit.

First of all, congratulations on becoming the new NEA president.

Still president-elect. I take office Sept. 1. We have an incredible president, Dennis Van Roekel, who basically said a transition period should be a transition period, not go stand in the corner. So he gave me the president-elect title and told me I would take the press calls, go to Netroots, meet with Arne Duncan, start establishing where you want to go and be as vocal and as visible as you can possibly be. Our members have asked NEA to step up and take things to another level. There’s too much at stake for us. There are policies that need addressing and we have some of the best policy expertise in the nation, but those ideas need a face to the NEA, a face for the American teacher that is channeling the voices of these 3 million educators, and when you hear the words come out of her mouth it’s not just her opinion — it’s a whole lot of teachers and support staff who are saying here’s an important thing for the American people to hear and an important thing for Arne Duncan and President Obama to hear. So he told me to start being that voice today.

The voices of these teachers are important, aren’t they? And too often we don’t really hear their stories about what it’s really like to teach in American schools, do we? For instance, I was just at a meeting of the American Federation of Teachers, where a teacher told us about showing up to school one morning and finding a man had been shot to death in front of the building the night before. The body was still on the sidewalk as the kids were coming to school, and the teachers had to decide how they were going to handle this with the children. So many of our teachers are really serving as first responders for kids, aren’t they?

That’s true. So how did the teachers handle this? More…

via “Stupid, absurd, non-defensible”: New NEA president Lily Eskelsen García on the problem with Arne Duncan, standardized tests and the war on teachers – Salon.com.

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Teachers Unions Turn Against Democrats — NYMag

8 Jul

The Obama administration’s education reforms have been almost completely absent from the national political debate because neither Party has an incentive to talk about them. Republicans don’t want to admit that Obama has carried out policies — more charter schools and teacher accountability — that they have spent years endorsing. Democrats don’t want to call attention to an issue that alienates teachers unions, a core element of their base. And teachers unions themselves don’t want to force their own members to choose between the union’s agenda and Obama’s.

But the unions are growing increasingly obstinate in their opposition of the sorts of accountability and pressure that Obama has helped bring upon them. Last week, the National Education Association held a convention where it elected a new president, Lily Eskelsen García, and also officially called for the resignation of Obama’s secretary of education, Arne Duncan. The delicate balancing act within the Democratic coalition is beginning to fray.

The main vehicle for Obama’s education agenda is Race to the Top, a portion of stimulus money it used as a lure to encourage states to overhaul their schools, and which produced sweeping changes. That Race to the Top was tucked into a massive bill that passed very quickly, in the midst of an economic calamity, further obscured the scope of Obama’s agenda. That revolution has continued to proceed, often carried out by a cadre of center-left education-policy reformers allied with the administration. The reformers, citing evidence that good teachers can teach the same class of students dramatically more than a poor teacher can, have introduced new methods to bring talented recruits into the teaching profession and to weed out ineffective teachers. They have also encouraged the spread of public charter schools, which experiment with new pedagogical methods.

One of the most effective innovations used by the best charterschools is a longer teaching day. More school time has been found especially helpful for low-income children, who receive less academic support at home. In Washington, D.C., school chancellor Kaya Henderson has made longer school days a priority, and urged teachers to embrace it — not only will they be paid more directly for their additional teaching time, but the likely improved student outcomes will also increase teachers’ bonus pay. The Washington Teachers Union has blocked Henderson.

The leaders of the teachers unions have generally taken care to placate the demands of their most implacably anti-reform members without opening an irreparable breach with the administration. The unions have strong, clear-headed reasons for their caution. However strongly they disagree with Obama and the education reformers about the design of education and teacher pay, they do agree on the principle of paying teachers more. This is in contrast to Republicans, who generally support all the reformers’ accountability measures and lower public budgets as well. And the leaders recognize that the hard-line unionist position — tenure rules that make it impossible to fire even the worst-performing teachers — are nearly impossible to defend with the public. More…

via Teachers Unions Turn Against Democrats — NYMag.

National Education Association wants Duncan’s resignation | Early & Often

8 Jul

WASHINGTON — The nation’s largest teachers’ union wants Education Secretary Arne Duncan to quit.

Delegates of the National Education Association adopted a business item July 4 at its annual convention in Denver that called for his resignation. The vote underscores the long-standing tension between the Obama administration and teachers’ unions — historically a steadfast Democratic ally.

A tipping point for some members was Duncan’s statement last month in support of a California judge’s ruling that struck down tenure and other job protections for the state’s public school teachers. In harsh wording, the judge said such laws harm particularly low-income students by saddling them with bad teachers who are almost impossible to fire.

Even before that, teachers’ unions have clashed with the administration over other issues ranging from its support of charter schools to its push to use student test scores as part of evaluating teachers.

The vote is a “venting of frustration of too many things that are wrong,” said Dennis Van Roekel, the outgoing president of NEA. He said it wasn’t directed at Duncan personally, but was about teachers wanting what is best for students.

Duncan wouldn’t comment Monday to reporters at the White House, but said he wished the NEA’s new president “the best of luck.” Van Roekel’s term ends Aug. 31. He’s to be replaced by Lily Eskelsen Garcia, an elementary school teacher from Utah.

“I always try to stay out of local union politics. I think most teachers do too,” Duncan said.

Duncan said the Education Department has had good relations with the NEA in the past, noting that they’ve teamed up every year to put on a national summit.

The business item passed said it was necessary to call for Duncan’s resignation because of the “department’s failed education agenda focused on more high-stakes testing, grading and pitting public school students against each other based on test scores, and for continuing to promote policies and decisions that undermine public schools and colleges, the teaching education professionals, and education unions.”

via National Education Association wants Duncan’s resignation | Early & Often.

Open letter to Arne Duncan from Chicago teachers

16 Feb

A coalition of teachers from public and private schools — including the school that Education Secretary Arne Duncan attended as a child and where President Obama’s daughters were enrolled before they moved to Washington — are releasing an open letter to Duncan expressing concerns about department policies that they say promote the overuse of standardized tests. Among the signees are teachers from the Ariel Community Academy, a public school that was founded by a team of people that included Duncan. More…

via Open letter to Arne Duncan from Chicago teachers.

Education Week: Arne Duncan Sketches Out ‘Long Haul’ Agenda

5 Dec

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who says he plans to serve in the Obama Cabinet for the “long haul,” has begun sketching out his priorities for the next four years. They include using competitive levers to improve teacher and principal quality and holding the line on initiatives he started during the president’s first term.

The secretary is also making clear what he won’t do: devote a lot of energy to a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act if Congress doesn’t get serious about rewriting the current version, the No Child Left Behind Act.

“We will lead, we will help, we will push, but Congress has to want to do it,” Mr. Duncan said in remarks last month to the Council of Chief State School Officers. More…

via Education Week: Arne Duncan Sketches Out ‘Long Haul’ Agenda.

Jeb and Arne, together again

17 Nov

Several months ago Jeb Bush publicly praised President Obama for selecting Arne Duncan as education secretary. “I think Arne Duncan has done a good job,” the former Florida governor said in this CBS interview. Perhaps to return the favor, Duncan is now scheduled to deliver a keynote address at Bush’s fifth annual Excellence in Action Summit later this month in Washington.

There’s no real surprise in the Jeb and Arne show. Duncan has spoken at earlier Bush summits. Obama himself stood on a stage with Bush — the architect of Florida’s damaging corporate-style education reforms, which have become a model around the country — and called him “a champion of education reform.” This while Wisconsin teachers were protesting for their collective bargaining rights last year. And I wrote a few days ago that Bush’s summit had also booked as a keynote speaker John Podesta, founder and chairman of the Center for American Progress, who was president Bill Clinton’s chief of staff and and co-chair of Obama’s 2008 presidential transition team.

More…

via Jeb and Arne, together again.

Parents United for Responsible Education » Guess what Arne’s lying about now

19 Aug

We’ve caught him lying about turnaround schools and charter schools, and his overall track record.

But apparently this bad habit has former Chicago Public Schools CEO and current Education Secretary Arne Duncan mythologizing himself, too. A friend alerted me to this recent New Jersey Star-Ledger interview where Duncan makes this claim:

When I was in high school in the South Side of Chicago, my friends could drop out and get a decent job in the stockyards or steel mills, and own their own home and support a family.

For those who may not be aware, Arne attended the very expensive, very exclusive University of Chicago Laboratory School, where President Obama’s daughters went to school and Mayor Rahm Emanuel currenlty sends his children.

The Lab School is in Hyde Park which, while it is indeed located on the south side of Chicago, is generally not considered “the South Side of Chicago.” You know, where Big Bad Leroy Brown lived.

Arne was 7 years old when the stockyards closed.

Read the rest of the article, if you can stomach it – he’s still lying about school reform, too.

via Parents United for Responsible Education » Blog Archive » Guess what Arne’s lying about now.

Arne Duncan Photo Op

6 Aug

Notice the smiles on the children’s faces. Arne really knows how to make reading fun!

How Should We Support New Teachers? Arne Duncan Hears From NEA-Student Members | NEA Today

11 Jul

How can this nation do a better job of attracting, supporting, and learning from great teachers? U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan really wants the answer to that question—the country really needs the answer to that question, he said—and he got it on Monday from a group of NEA-Student members.

These future teachers were frank: They want to be respected for their choice to serve students, schools, and communities, they said. And they want to be better supported as they make the transition from student to teacher. Continue reading

Hmmmmm

26 Jun
FROM TWITTER FEED: VEA: NEA President asks NCUEA/NEA delegates not to throw Arne Duncan “under the bus” at this year’s Representative Assembly.
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