NEA Boos Obama’s Ed. Secretary

Education Secretary Arne Duncan was in Los Angeles to speak to an NEA convention.

Teachers booed and hissed today as Education Secretary Arne Duncan urged the nation’s largest teachers union to change its view of merit-based pay and incorporate student achievement into teacher evaluation and compensation.

Ah, so professional. I’ve been to many engineering conventions where a speaker is booed and hissed for suggesting stricter accreditation standards or the like. NOT. Here’s some of what Duncan said that them so upset. First, he addressed teacher accountability and assessment:

Our challenge is to make sure every child in America is learning from an effective teacher, no matter what it takes….So today, I ask you to join President Obama and me in a new commitment to results that recognizes and rewards success in the classroom and is rooted in our common obligation to children….I understand that tests are far from perfect and that it is unfair to reduce the complex, nuanced work of teaching to a simple multiple choice exam….Test scores alone should never drive evaluation, compensation or tenure decisions. That would never make sense. But to remove student achievement entirely from evaluation is illogical and indefensible.

Then he addressed the way that bonuses are earned by teachers (advanced degree and longevity bonuses, for instance), which may not be the most effective at rewarding good teachers:

School systems pay teachers billions of dollars more each year for earning credentials that do very little to improve the quality of teaching….At the same time, many schools give nothing at all to the teachers who go the extra mile and make all the difference in students’ lives. Excellence matters, and we should honor it — fairly, transparently and on terms teachers can embrace.

Duncan also explained why the model of public education is outdated and outmoded:

I believe that teacher unions are at a crossroads…These policies were created over the past century to protect the rights of teachers, but they have produced an industrial, factory model of education that treats all teachers like interchangeable widgets.
When inflexible seniority and rigid tenure rules that we designed put adults ahead of children, then we are not only putting kids at risk, we’re putting the entire education system at risk….We’re inviting the attack of parents and the public, and that is not good for any of us.

No it’s not. The NEA has proven time and again that they aren’t going to go along willingly with this kind of “change”. Unfortunately, Duncan’s explanation about outmoded factory models will fall on the deaf ears of those who think that mid-20th century factory models are the ideal to which we should all strive, in perpetuity, regardless of their practicality in the modern age.

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Tom W
Tom W
14 years ago

Oh so many thoughts.
“They booed for the children” … or so they would claim.
The teachers unions are showing their true colors.
OMG, I actually agree with something that someone in the Obama administration is saying … but am also cognizant of the fact that this same administration just allowed the elimination of Washington, D.C.’s voucher program:
As seen on a t-shirt for sale on Cafe Press: Edophiles – Teachers Unions Exploiting Children for Monetary Gratification.” That statement would seem to sum up the net impact and teachers unions.
The Democrat General Assembly could free Rhode Island of teachers unions and their intransigence, strikes, work to rule, tenure and seniority with just one legislative enactment. That they won’t shows that the Democrat General Assembly (and “Republican” Jack Savage for that matter) are themselves “Edophiles” – or at least “Edophile” enablers.

14 years ago

Amazing that such a reasonable suggestion would be met by this response.

Tom W
Tom W
14 years ago

>Amazing that such a reasonable suggestion would be met by this response.
Monique, I’m surprised that you’re surprised.
After all, let’s not forget the show that the locals put on at the East Providence School Committee meeting a while back.
What we saw on display at the national convention – this display of “professionalism” – was entirely consistent with what we’ve seen displayed at the local level by these “professionals” and the leadership of their “professional association” (they themselves often try to avoid using the term “union” to describe themselves).
Which begs the question: how many of the attendees at the national convention were in duck-costumed (or similar) regalia?
Were there giant inflatable rats in the lobby, or outside the building?
How many of the attendees (or their spouses) also “serve” on school committees?

14 years ago

Not surprised by Duncan’s comments, or the NEA’s response. But did you see what Boston’s Mayor Menino said this week? Wow!

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