Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Origins of the "Dump Duncan" Petiton Drive

Most teachers in the US not only voted for President Obama, they spent considerable time and money campaigning for him. Like many other Americans, they thought the Obama presidency would bring new initiatives to help working families and help people rise out of poverty after 8 years of policieswhich favored large corporations and concentrated wealth among top earners. However, they were shocked when President Obama appointed Arne Duncan, a man who had never been a teacher, as Secretary of Education,and when policies began emanating from the new administration favoring
charter schools over public schools, requiring student test scores as a basis of teacher evaluation, and encouraging "school turnaround"strategies which led to mass firing of teachers. Worse yet, the rhetoric emanating from Mr Duncan often portrayed "bad teachers" ratherthan deeply entrenched poverty, as the reason for race and class inequities in educational achievement, and for poor US performance
globally on standardized tests, a concern heightened when Mr Duncan praised the mass firing of teachers in Central Falls Rhode Island and called Hurricane Katrina " the best thing that had happened to education in New Orleans" because it allowed local officials to replace public schools with charter schools

Over the last three years, teacher concern about the education policies of the Obama administration only continued to heighten as The Department of Education used the lure of Race to The Top Funding to try to lure, and eventually compel states to ratchet up the number and importance of standardized tests and use them as a basis to evaluate and reward teachers. Discontent with administration policies led teachers to organize the Save Our School March last summer and inJanuary of this year launch a petition drive to have Arne Duncanremoved as Secretary of Education and a lifetime educator put in his place

The campaign was jointly launched by two veteran educators who had never met in person, Robert Valiant of Eastern Washington and Professor Mark Naison of Brooklyn New York. Both had not only spent a life time teaching and working in schools,they were in regular contact with large groups of teachers and administrators who felt betrayed by the policies of an Administration they had worked so hard to elect. Very quickly, this campaign drew support form teachers all over the country,along with parents and other concerned citizens, in rural, small town and big city districts, from kindergarten to college. But their campaign has thus far been ignored by major media outlets and even bypublications which cover education. In a nation where teachers voices are largely excluded from education policy, this exclusion further
damages the morale of the nation's teachers, already the lowest in recent history

"If you Want to Save America's Public Schools: Replace Secretary of
Education Arne Duncan With a Lifetime Educator."

1 comment:

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