"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilisation, it expects what never was and never will be...nor can they be safe with them without information. Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe." – Thomas Jefferson

Monday, July 4, 2011

NEA 'Appalled' with Duncan

The 9000 plus delegates at the NEA Representative Assembly in Chicago have passed a New Business Item directing the NEA President, Dennis Van Roekel, to tell President Obama how much we hate what Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is doing to the public schools of America. That's it...just tell him. The President hasn't listened to teachers during the first four years of his administration. What makes the delegates to the RA so sure he'll listen now?

New Business Item 22, calling for the removal of Secretary Duncan, was defeated.

The delegates cheered loudly when Vice President Biden spoke. Biden talked about working with teachers...and he said that teachers "are not the problem."

The fact is, however, that President Obama, and by his cooperation, Vice President Biden, are not friends of education. They are not working for the good of the students of America. They're working to establish the corporate based privatization of public education through Secretary Duncan.

It's true that the Democrats are against the actions of Republican governors and legislators to reduce the strength of teachers unions, but that's only one part of the problem. The other part is the defunding of public schools for more charters and vouchers, the continued insane dependence on standardized test scores to rank schools, and the use of the same tests to evaluate teachers. That's coming straight from US Department of Education.

The same 13 items listed below in New Business Item C can be said of President Obama. NEA should not endorse him.

...and I'm very disappointed that the call for Duncan's removal was defeated.
NEW BUSINESS ITEM C

ADOPTED AS AMENDED

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 are unproven and have been shown to be ineffective and 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. Failing to respect and 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.

COST IMPLICATIONS

Activities to fulfill the requirements of this NBI can be undertaken within the proposed Modified 2011-2012 Strategic Plan and Budget at no additional cost.
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