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Topic: [ncsm-members] Arne Duncan tries to smooth relations with teachers
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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 16,576
Registered: 12/3/04
[ncsm-members] Arne Duncan tries to smooth relations with teachers
Posted: Oct 3, 2012 5:45 PM
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From The Washington Post, Tuesday, October 2, 2012. See
Arne Duncan tries to smooth relations with teachers

By Lyndsey Layton

Education Secretary Arne Duncan made a careful effort Tuesday to
smooth relations with teachers, saying the Obama administration
understands that many educators feel besieged by the national push
for new evaluations and faster improvements in student achievement.

"I know some educators feel overwhelmed by all of this change,"
Duncan said during a wide-ranging speech at the National Press Club
in Washington. "Teachers always, always support accountability and a
fair system of evaluation. They want the feedback so they can get
better. But some of them say it's happening too quickly and not
always in a way that is respectful and fair."

Teacher evaluations, which were a central issue in a recent seven-day
strike by the Chicago Teachers Union, are being implemented across
the country as a result of President Obama's Race to the Top grant
program and his decision to issue waivers to 33 states to exempt them
from No Child Left Behind, the 2011 federal education law that, many
say, is overdue for a rewrite.

The Obama administration wants good teachers to be rewarded with
merit pay, promising teachers to get support to improve and weak
teachers to leave the classroom. But figuring out how to measure the
quality of a teacher is difficult, and many states are struggling to
determine the best methods. Some teachers worry that they are being
blamed for the weak academic performance of students struggling with
poverty, homelessness and other social ills beyond the control of a
classroom teacher.

"They want an evaluation system that recognizes out-of-school factors
and distinguishes among students with special needs, gifts and
backgrounds," Duncan said. "They certainly don't want to be evaluated
based on one test score - and I absolutely agree with them."

During his speech, Duncan nodded to a seat occupied by Dennis Van
Roekel, president of the National Education Association, and referred
to him as "my good friend." The nation's largest labor union, the NEA
is a major Democratic donor.

Duncan said the country needed to "rise above the partisan politics -
we have to set aside the tired debates pitting reformers against
unions - we have to discard the ugly and divisive rhetoric of blame."

He talked repeatedly about the need for cooperation between the
parties. But he also slipped in a campaign message dinging Republican
presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan
of Wisconsin. [See

"They fundamentally see education as an expense and the president
sees education as an investment, "Duncan said, referring to the GOP
ticket. "Congressman Ryan's budget would mean 200,000 less kids in
Head Start, potential massive cuts to Pell grants. None of that leads
us in the right direction."
PHOTO SIDEBAR: U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks next to
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan about providing states flexibility
under No Child Left Behind in exchange for reform at the White House
in Washington February 9, 2012. YURI GRIPAS/REUTERS -
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

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