Friday, January 27, 2012

Draft of Teachers Letter to President Obama

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



Sue VanHattum said...

I'd like to see something about how merit pay has been shown not to work and shouldn't be pushed.

I'd sign it (with or without that modification).

Mark Collins said...

Where can I put my John Hancock?

Iteach5th said...

Well said, count me in

Holly said...

I'd like to see Common Core mentioned as it is completely developmentally inappropriate for our early childhood learners. Thanks for writing the letter.

Stephen Ressler Neary said...

I would sign it without hesitation.

Michelle said...

I would like to see something stated about how schools are not businesses. Competition will not improve education for all, it will further segregate the haves and have nots. When you have a business and want to build a product, you select the best materials to build with and throw out the broken and damaged. We do NOT do this in public schools! We take them ALL, broken, unwilling, tired, hungry, abused, and disabled. We teach them all. Hold teachers accountable yes, degrade and demoralize, no.

K M Breidenthal said...

This is my signature !

Ring my Bell said...

Consider it signed.

Unknown said...

This should be signed by as many teachers across the United States as possible. I work with 300 teachers in Michigan that would sign this in a heartbeat.

Jerry O'Neil said...

I'm all in

Nomi said...

Perhaps add something about the importance of arts & recess in the schools?

It's a great letter & my perspective now is as a parent (child gets a music class once every six school days....)

Thank you, Mark, I will be sharing this.

Mark Naison said...


An online version of this letter which can be easily signed will be posted some time today by Robert Valiant. I will let everyone know when this is available and will post it on this blog.

Best, Mark

Gina Weir said...

would love to see a petition from people across the country.