The Math Forum

Search All of the Math Forum:

Views expressed in these public forums are not endorsed by NCTM or The Math Forum.

Math Forum » Discussions » Education » math-teach

Notice: We are no longer accepting new posts, but the forums will continue to be readable.

Topic: An Open Letter to Arne Duncan
Replies: 10   Last Post: Mar 25, 2010 8:56 PM

Advanced Search

Back to Topic List Back to Topic List Jump to Tree View Jump to Tree View   Messages: [ Previous | Next ]
Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 16,576
Registered: 12/3/04
An Open Letter to Arne Duncan
Posted: Mar 23, 2010 3:40 PM
  Click to see the message monospaced in plain text Plain Text   Click to reply to this topic Reply
att1.html (3.4 K)

From Education Week (Online) [American Education's Newspaper of
Record], Monday, March 22, 2010. See
An Open Letter to Arne Duncan

By Walt Gardner

Dear Mr. Secretary,

You are at the helm of a ship that is entering uncharted waters.
Whether the voyage is successful depends in large part on your
judgment. The eyes of the nation are on you as you attempt to

I'd like to remind you that the morale of teachers plays an
indispensable role. But unfortunately I don't think you appreciate
the harm you've done by inordinately focusing on the failures of
schools. Your remarks leave taxpayers with the distinct impression
that teachers are not doing their jobs and that schools are
shortchanging their students.

There are 3.2 million teachers who teach 50 million students in
98,000 public schools, according to Education Department data. Some
are unquestionably guilty as you charge. But countless schools are
world-class. Why don't the latter deserve as much praise as the
amount of condemnation you heap on the former? By refusing to provide
balance in your comments, you unwittingly undermine your agenda.

The countries that outperform the U.S. on tests of international
competition take a totally different approach to school reform. They
know that teachers are not miracle workers. No matter how dedicated,
knowledgeable and trained, they cannot possibly provide a quality
education for their students by themselves. That's why these
countries view educating the young as a collaborative effort by
teachers, parents and the community.

Business leaders certainly have the right to make their voices heard
in the ongoing debate. But public schools do not exist exclusively to
meet their needs. The crisis they have manufactured to justify their
criticism is nothing new. To understand the basis for this
assessment, I refer you to my op-ed that was published in the
international edition of the New York Times on Jan. 14, 2008 ("The
'crisis' of U.S. education" -- see

I hope you will seriously consider my views at this crossroads in
educational history. Without the support of teachers, you will
squander the unprecedented opportunity you have. That would be a
tragedy for the nation.


Walt Gardner
Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
625 Wham Drive
Mail Code 4610
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610
Phone: (618) 453-4241 [O]
(618) 457-8903 [H]
Fax: (618) 453-4244

Point your RSS reader here for a feed of the latest messages in this topic.

[Privacy Policy] [Terms of Use]

© The Math Forum at NCTM 1994-2018. All Rights Reserved.