We, the undersigned, a cross section of the nation’s educators, want to express our extreme displeasure with the policies implemented during your administration by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Although the majority of us campaigned enthusiastically for you in 2008, we are reluctant to do so again unless we see some modification of the following three dimensions of your administration’s education initiatives:
1. The exclusion of teachers from policy discussions in the US Department of Education and from Education Summits called under your leadership
2. The use of rhetoric which blames failing schools on "bad teachers" rather than poverty and neighborhood distress
3. The use of federal funds to compel states and municipalities to use student test scores in the evaluation of teachers and as the basis for closing low performing schools
Because of these policies, teachers throughout the nation have become discouraged and demoralized, undermining your own stated goals of improving teacher quality, upgrading the nation's educational performance, and encouraging creative pedagogy rather than “teaching to the test.”
We therefore recommend the following measures to put your administration’s education policy back on the right track and to bring teachers in as full partners in this effort
1. The removal of Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education and his replacement by a lifetime educator who has the confidence of the nation’s teachers.
2. The incorporation of teachers in all policy discussion taking place in your administration, inside and outside the Department of Education.
3. .An immediate end to the use of incentives or penalties to compel states and municipalities to use student test scores as a basis for evaluating teachers.
4. An end to policies that use incentives or penalties to encourage states and municipalities to prefer charter schools to existing public schools.
5. An end to federal policies that require the closing of low performing schools based on student test scores and the creation of a National Commission, in which teachers and parent representatives play a primary role, which explores how to best improve the quality of such schools.
We believe such policies will create an outpouring of good will on the part of teachers, parents and students which will promote both creative teaching and educational innovation, leading to far greater improvements in the nation’s schools than policies which encourage a proliferation of student testing, could ever hope to do