13 things the NEA hates about Arne Duncan

According to Education Week, this resolution was  approved with a few minor changes by the National Education Association’s Representative Assembly today; cross posted as item C here.

The NEA Representative Assembly directs the NEA President to communicate aggressively, forcefully, and immediately to President Barack Obama and US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan that NEA is appalled with Secretary Duncan’s practice of:

  1. Weighing in on local hiring decisions of school and school district personnel.
  2. Supporting local decisions to fire all school staff indiscriminately, such as his comments regarding the planned firings in Central Falls, RI.
  3. Supporting inappropriate use of high-stakes standardized test scores for both student achievement and teacher evaluation, all while acknowledging that the currently available tests are not good.
  4. Failing to recognize the shortcomings of offering to support struggling schools or states, but only in exchange for unsustainable state ‘reform’ policy.
  5. Focusing too heavily on competitive grants that by design leave most students behind—particularly those in poor neighborhoods, rural areas, and struggling schools—instead of foundational formula funding designed to help all the students who need the most support.
  6. Not adequately addressing the unrealistic Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) requirements that brand thriving or improving schools as failures.
  7. Forcing local school districts to choose from a pre-determined menu of school improvement models that bear little resemblance to the actual needs of the school that is struggling.
  8. Focusing so heavily on charter schools that viable and proven innovative school models (such as magnet schools) have been overlooked, and simultaneously failing to highlight with the same enthusiasm the innovation in our non-charter public schools.
  9. Failing to recognize both the danger inherent in overreliance on a single measurement and the need for multiple indicators when addressing and analyzing student achievement and educators’ evaluations.
  10. Failing to recognize the need for systemic change that helps ALL students and relies on shared responsibility by all stakeholders, rather than competitive grant programs that spur bad, inappropriate, and short-sighted state policy.
  11. Failing to recognize the complexities of school districts that do not have the resources to compete for funding, particularly in rural America, and failing to provide targeted and effective support for those schools and school districts.
  12. Disrespecting and failing to honor the professionalism of educators across this country, including but not limited to holding public education roundtables and meetings without inviting state and local representatives of the teachers, education support professionals, and faculty and staff; promoting programs that lower the standards for entry into the profession; focusing so singularly on teachers in the schools that the other critical staff members and higher education faculty and staff have been overlooked in the plans for improving student learning throughout their educational careers.
  13. Perpetuating the myth that there are proven, top-down prescribed ‘silver bullet’ solutions and models that actually will address the real problems that face public education today, rather than recognizing that what schools need is a visionary Secretary of Education that sets broad goals and tasks states, local schools districts, schools, educators, and communities with meeting those goals.

Further, the NEA Representative Assembly directs the NEA Executive Committee to develop and implement an aggressive action plan in collaboration with state and local leaders that will address the issues above.

Starting November 2011, the NEA President will provide regular updates to the delegates on the progress of this plan throughout the year.

The Secretary is accessible to NEA, is a strong advocate for poor children and additional funding for public schools, and has been outspoken in support of collective bargaining rights, but too many NEA members have been alienated by his actions.

Submitted By

NEA Board of Directors

Posted on by admin Posted in Uncategorized

5 Responses to 13 things the NEA hates about Arne Duncan

  1. Michael Paul Goldenberg

    Secretary Duncan is ill-equipped to be the head of the US Dept. of Education. He should resign effective immediately. Further, if President Obama expects to have the support of many of those who backed him in 2008, he’d be wise to put an experienced educator who has worked in classrooms, with teachers, with administrators, and most of all with students and parents. There are many such people who understand the issues that are of importance to improving teaching and learning. They are not in favor of destroying public education, of selling our public schools to private, moneyed interests, or in allowing those who ARE so inclined to game the system. Such people understand the vital role of FORMATIVE assessment in education and the relatively meager importance of summative assessment. The latter primarily is a political tool that benefits corporations and universities, whereas the former is used to benefit students and educators, to improve learning and teaching, and not as a political football for members of any party or special interest.

    Until President Obama comes to grips with the fact that his continued tacit support of NCLB and explicit support of the coercive and divisive (and, likely, unconstitutional) Race To The Top policies are harming, not helping, US students, that his support for privately-managed, for-profit charter schools and the inevitable vouchers that will follow their spread, serves only the privileged and those who seek to profit from poverty and the propaganda that is being made from predictably low standardized test results in our neediest communities and schools. Such policies are NOT what most Americans believed they would get from an Obama presidency, and his failures in education policy have been particularly egregious and obvious. I would remind him, should he seriously doubt the possibility that he will lose wholesale support of educators and concerned parents because of his awful educational policies, I have two words and a year for him: Jimmy Carter, 1980.

    • Donna Dachs

      Based on what I’ve read about Arne Duncan, I would like to suggest that he be replaced. As a retired teacher, I honestly feel that Pres. Obama would attract more votes from educators and retirees if Mr. Duncan gets reassigned to a different position or simply returns back home. Too bad Mr. Duncan is a piece of the package, endorsing Pres. Obama. Mr. Duncan just isn’t cutting it for me.
      Donna Dachs
      Retired Educator

  2. Mike Archer

    I am a teacher who walked and talked for President Obama’s campaign. I will not do so in 2012. The 13 criticisms above are not union sloganeering. They are deeply felt by rank and file teachers and school principals across the country. Support for President Obama’s re-election is fading fast among educators, their friends, and families. Of course the Republicans don’t look any better. That’s not the point. The point is, President Obama said he would listen to educators and act in the interests of students. Instead, he acted only in the interests of corporations.

  3. jt

    Obama and Duncan have destroyed
    and corrupted American
    education. I fear it will never
    recover. No educator, parent
    or concerned citizen will vote
    for this president after what he has done.
    They say America was down on the list
    of countries concerning education
    watch how far we will drop now.

  4. Rachel Leinweber

    First, the Bush Administration put this upsurd set of laws (NCLB) into motion.. furthering the mediocre methodologies for educating our kids. Then, the Obama (and Duncan) administration have surprisingly took the NCLB package and they have kept it going… they have made zero attempts to make anything in our schools better, decidedly NOT moving away from the useless billions spent just to create and support more testing and scoring of our kids… such a disappointment really, unbelievable, and so very much a sign of what the current Education Chief in Washington (and his boss) continue NOT to learn about what it truly means to educate, to teach thinking and learning … our schools are at a crossroads and it’s as if Arne Duncan is the symbol for what we mistake for an educator.. no wonder schools such as in NYC are continuing to be run by people who know NOTHING about education. Washington sets the standard for what is MISSING…. what a shame.