Secretary Arne Duncan to Participate in Radio Town Hall Meeting with Nation’s Teachers

Secretary Arne Duncan will take part in a live town hall meeting with the nation’s teachers on Sirius/XM Satellite Radio’s POTUS public affairs channel on Thursday, July 29.

The program will air from 11:00 AM EDT-12:00 PM EDT and will feature a studio audience of teachers from a cross-section of public schools, drawing from a variety of districts, grade levels, and disciplines. Tim Farley, host of POTUS’s “The Morning Briefing,” will moderate the event.

Since his appointment in 2009, Secretary Duncan has spoken with thousands of teachers from around the United States to gather input on the Obama administration’s blueprint for K-12 education reform. As Congress prepares to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, this town hall will provide an opportunity for teachers to voice their ideas and concerns directly to the Secretary. In addition to the studio audience, listeners to the program online or via radio will be able to call in with questions and comments.

The town hall will be broadcast on channel 110 on Sirius Radio and channel 130 on XM. Nonsubscribers may access the program online and free of charge by going to www.xmradio.com and clicking on “Free Online Trial.”

Looking forward to Thursday’s event, we invite teachers to consider some of the questions that the Secretary and the studio audience and listeners will discuss — questions such as…

  • What can we do to enhance the teaching profession?
  • How can we do a better job of encouraging and rewarding excellent teaching?
  • How can we do a better job of measuring success?

Post your comments here. We will highlight a sample of your responses during the live radio program.

83 Comments

  1. As a member of the Texas TAP team for the last three years, we have seen first hand how the collaborative implementation of this systemic change of the relationship between instruction and student achievement not only enhances student success but also provides teachers with a team of colleagues dedicated to the improvement of instruction through in-house professional development that truly meets the needs of the student population. The Master, Mentor, and Career teachers work hand-in-hand to utilize state testing data, classroom student work data, and basic anecdotal evidence to isolate student needs in the classroom as a whole building approach to remedy instructional holes thereby increasing student comprehension and achievement. Teachers work tirelessly to make these gains; however, with the addition of performance pay based on yearly student growth, teachers continually step up their level of expectations. After working as a learning community within our campus as well as on a state and national level with the support of the TAP system, we are eager to see this highly influential and innovative systemic change to education continue to make the students of the future successful members of Texas.

  2. Sec. Duncan: According to the 2009 Annual Report of the Broad Foundation, you were a member of the Broad Center’s board of directors in 2008. This is just one of the many pieces of evidence of close contact you have had with the Broad Foundation and its founder. As you well know, billionaire Eli Broad is one of this country’s most powerful CEO promoters of the “business model” of education reform, which happens to be the model you have adopted. Tom Vander Ark, with whom both you and Broad are well-acquainted, entitled a March 2009 Huffington Post piece “Eli Finally Won,” largely because President Obama selected you to run the Department of Education.

    On behalf of public transparency, would you please elaborate on your close connections with this non-educator businessman (Eli Broad), and tell us more about his influence on your decisions?

  3. I think the TAP System can be a solution to improving teacher quality, raising student achievement and compensating teachers for their hard work. Having worked in low-income, urban schools, I know it’s true that these student populations often have poor quality teachers, brand new teachers, or teachers who only stay in the school for one year. From what I’ve experienced, I truly believe that teacher quality is the most important factor in the students’ success in the classroom. I know that our assessment systems are inherently flawed but there are other measures that should be considered such as value-add models that measure student growth over the course of the year rather than a snapshot at the end of the year. I have worked as a teacher in the TAP system in Texas and found that the teacher evaluation process focuses on improving the quality of teachers and not just evaluating them. By providing targeted and individualized professional development after identifying the teacher need, these teachers have been able to dramatically improve their teaching and are becoming much more effective with their students. TAP teachers I’ve worked with and talked to have said they love that they are getting constructive feedback on their teaching and then getting support in the classroom to improve. Also under TAP, professional development is provided during the school day to target our students’ needs–not just what the district thinks our needs are. In Texas, all of the TAP schools are measuring student achievement not just with the state assessment but also with value-add measures and we’re seeing that our school ratings are improving and our value-add measures tell us that the students in TAP schools are making more than a years growth each year. Our students are creative problem solvers who are achieving beyond just what the state assessment measures. We are so proud of our students and our teachers who are focusing on their teaching practice and refining their skills and our student achievement results prove this! Having worked in TAP schools, I would never want to work anywhere else. This model works because it supports teachers instead of penalizing them and focuses on individual student growth rather than test scores. And it’s not just me who feels this way. Our TAP schools have high teacher retention rates even in the tough schools where most teachers don’t stay longer than a few years. As recognition for the hard work and student achievement results teachers get extra compensation which truly is a bonus in this profession since the best teachers usually get extra responsibility but rarely get extra pay. If I haven’t made it clear in this comment, I think every school should be a TAP school because the TAP system supports teachers, focuses on students, and helps to build a culture where teachers want to work together and stay at their school for a long time. This is the only model that I’ve seen that works consistently and makes teachers feel like respected professionals.

  4. Secretary Duncan, I am Farrah Martin, a Master Content Instructional Specialist in the Algiers Charter Schools Association, a charter school network in New Orleans, Louisiana. I’d like to comment on how we’ve been able to address the specified issues in ACSA. ACSA employs TAP: The System of Student and Teacher Advancement. It is embedded into our charter as the driving force behind recruiting and retaining high quality teachers and ultimately increasing student achievement. It works. In the 2008-09 academic year, seven out of eight ACSA network schools achieved more than a year’s academic growth compared to other similar schools in Louisiana. The eighth school achieved a solid year’s growth.

    To what do I attribute this growth? One key factor is the ongoing, job-embedded professional development from which all teachers in ACSA benefit. TAP restructures the school schedule to provide time during the regular school day to meet, learn, plan, mentor, and share with other teachers. This common time allows us to learn new instructional strategies, to meet INDIVIDUAL student needs and have greater opportunities to collaborate, both of which enable us to become more effective teachers, ultimately benefitting our students.

  5. Let’s get honest about national standards, national curriculum, and national tests.

    The current facade of local control has simply created a facism of confused “reform” and a lot of money for consultants and third-party vendors (who are yet left out of the accountability measures).

    If we’re going to be measured, shouldn’t we all be measured on an equal scale?
    (and why not norm-referenced tests, so we can actually measure progress?)

    And if we’re going to be told what to teach, and be held accountable for teaching it well, can someone, somewhere, please be held accountable for making sure that the standards/curriculum *are* teachable?(including those special populations that are currently burdening our “failing” schools)

    I want to be a good teacher; I want to be measured; but I want a *chance* to succeed.

  6. Let me begin by saying that as a teacher and parent, I believe the national discussion we are having in order to improve student achievement in America is critial to our nation’s future- and high quality schools are the corner stone of our children’s future. However, the current trend of “blame the teacher” is tired, cliche, and counter-productive. Arne Duncan isn’t bringing anything new to the table here- teachers havebeen the blame for lack of student achievement for decades. The assumption that teachers don’t care, or are inept, or both, is just all smoke and mirrors, and punitive measures that seek to fire teachers based upon student scores will not help. It will only discourage teachers and future teachers, as well as prevent them from performing well in the classroom. Here’s the dirty little secret that most people outside of the classroom don’t realize: teachers have very little say in their day to day jobs. We have little to no input on what we teach. The curriculum is set by people at the state or national level who are not, and probably have never been, classroom teachers. Then, the textbooks are selected by the state, and that field has been dominated by just a handful of big publishers for decades. The budgets are also dicatated by the state, and spending is rarely flexible to meet local needs. Spending is further dictated at the district level. Teachers have little or no say regarding what level they teach at. They have no say as to what students are in their classrooms, or how big their class size will be. (Unfortunately, many prinicpals use this fact as a way to punish teachers who don’t agree with them.) Teachers have no say as to the school schedule, or as to classroom intercom interruptions. The principal typically controls this, and it is not uncommon for teachers to have to teach a subject in the 35 minutes between recess and lunch (YES!It happens!) and then continue after lunch. Teachers also rarely have any control over the assessments given. The district will mandate benchmarks that are typically designed by publishers, again, with little or no regard to standards, students, or time constraints. Teachers also have no control over supplies and classroom facilities. Teaching in substandard classroom spaces with insufficient supplies and broken down furniture is not uncommon, particularly in poorer schools. And yet, teachers are in the classroom, day in and day out, with the dedication and energy rarely seen in other professions. Blaming the teachers for low test scores just doesn’t make sense at all. My suggestion is this: make student achievement part of the evaluation for ALL stakeholders, from the national, state, district, and school level down- and include the publishers and students, too. Publishers should have part of their contract be whether or not their product actually improves student achievement. The superintendent should have part of his/her evaluation be whether or not the schools in the district have improved. The principal in turn should also be evaluated based upon whether or not the teachers in that school have been successful in improving achievement. And students should have their grades and/or promotion to the next level be partially based on their achievement on a commonly agreed to assessment. It is only when these ALL key people have a stake in the outcome will we truly see a turnaround in the schools. There will then be motivation for all players to work together on the common goal of increasing student achievement. To only blame teachers in a system where they have little say or control in their workplace is ridiculous, lacking in common sense, counter-productive, and frankly, just plain cruel.

  7. The bottom line aim of educatiing is to improve learner ability to make sense of experience. Scholars agree that sense-making requires integrating knowledge. Why, then, are standards for separate school subjects rather than for what learners are able to DO by integrating those subjects, a good idea?

  8. Mr. Duncan,

    Tuesday at the National Press Club you said “Physical Education is NOT an extra.”

    Though physical education meets the same criteria for rigor that other core subjects in education do, physical education is conspicuously absent from the current list of subjects defined as the core. If you believe that “Physical Education is NOT an extra”
    will the you advocate for the inclusion of physical education as a core academic subject?

    Thank you for responding to my question.

  9. I would like to see our nation teach children for the sake learning, not teach children for the sake of standardized tests.

    It is a frustrating situation to see the natural curiosity of children being held back as teachers many times, must leave one topic of interest and switch gears to allow time to “teach to the test.”

    Can we stop being so focused on scores, and get more focused on well-rounded education where children can find their way? It is imperative for our nation that we stop putting round pegs in square holes. Let’s facilitate better self esteem in our youth, and watch the bullying, gangs and youth crime decease.

  10. How do you plan to guarantee that teacher evaluations will be valid and not simply a tool for administrative headhunting. I had a very bad experience this year with an evaluator who gave me an unsatisfactory rating which was then overridden and changed to “proficient” by an central administration. While I am happy the false evaluation was thrown out, it underscored the fact that it is a political process where the teacher is largely at the mercy of administrators. Adding student performance to teacher evaluations would mean a third party test of every class and every subject which would be incredibly time-consuming and expensive. As long as the important decisions in education are made by people who got out of the classroom as quickly as they could, nothing will change.

  11. How will you ensure that incentives based on student achievement (measured through standardized testing) do not translate to incentives for “weeding out” students least likely to perform well on tests?

    Already in my city, I have watched as charter schools touted as national models have pushed out families whose children have learning disabilities, language-learning needs, or social emotional problems. They create hoops to jump through to even apply for the lottery, like mandatory parent meetings and signing of contracts promising to pick up their child immediately in the case of any disciplinary infraction (including poor uniform). If a parent is willing to research a charter school, set up meetings, and sign contracts, that child already has an advantage other children do not — an engaged guardian who values education.

    Any regular public school teacher will tell you that in a given classroom, you will have three to seven children who create many distractions and require extra supports and attention. Most of these children have parents who refuse contact, who yell at teachers, who resent schools, or who are simply unwilling to get involved. When even ONE of these students is absent, the dynamic of the whole classroom changes palpably. We are able to give so much more, and students are less distracted, more engaged. Simply put, everyone learns more when even one of these students is out just for the day.

    Charter schools already have ways to avoid admitting any of these such students. More and more, I am seeing district school principals shuffle these difficult students to other schools in order to improve test scores.

    How will you ensure that score-based incentives do not create a two-tiered educational system, schools with engaged and dedicated families and schools without?

    How will you recognize the important work we teachers do in educating two generations at once, in engaging resistant parents, work that other schools simply avoid?

  12. I retired after 32 years in the teaching profession. I believe my students were well educated within the confines of the current educational system. By this I mean they could score extremely well on standardized tests, but they had no common sense to do anything else!!!

    Take the pressure off teachers and districts by HONESTLY assessing whether we are keeping up with other countries in the world. Using standardized tests as the ONLY measure of achievement is absurd. Furthermore, the United States educates everyone true enough; however, our young minds are not all the same. Some square pegs won’t go in the round holes we expect them all to be forced into.(forgive the cliche`)We must prepare our future generations to succeed in the 21st century, but that success should not be dictated by someone who has never seen the inside of a down-to-earth classroom.

    Ranting and raving have never accomplished anything. Until we have a different vision of a true, quality education, nothing we say or do will make a difference.In all honesty I doubt seriously that we will be able to alter the course we have chosen when the Department of Education in this country won’t hear the cries of those in the trenches of this war….the teachers.

  13. Sec. Duncan,
    I read your response to the Framework submitted by the national civil rights organizations in your remarks to the National Urban League, but I still cannot follow your logic that the use of competitive grants such as RttT is “benefiting students of color.” Can you give some specific examples of these benefits? What about the students of color in states that “lost” or chose not to apply?

    I’d also like to know how members of the Equity and Excellence Commission will be selected?

  14. Mr. Duncan,

    1) In the District of Columbia, 55% of my teacher evaluation is determined by students’ test scores (50% – my class & 5% – school).

    Assuming all external factors are controlled (the value added model data following the students is calculated accurately, no academic fraud committed by teachers from previous grades, ect) …

    QUESTION: What percentage of teachers’ evaluations do you believe should be determined by students’ test scores?

    2) Additionally, last week our school system fired 300 teachers and put over 700 on notice to be fired next school year if their performances do not improve. If things do not dramatically change, our district will fire approximately 1000 teachers in two years (25% of 4000 total teachers).

    Currently, only grades 3-8 and 10 are testing grades. Thus, only teachers teaching grades 4-8 currently have value added data for their evaluations (55%). Our Chancellor wants to extend standardized testing throughout all grades (K-12) so that all teachers will have value added data considered in their evaluations. Our school system’s elementary standardized test scores dropped over 4% in both reading and math.

    MY ASSUMPTION: If grades K-2 students had taken the standardized tests and performed in similar fashion as their grade 3-5 peers, the K-3 teachers would have received lower evaluations (test scores accounting for 55% of their evaluations rather than just 5%). More teachers would have been deemed ineffective and fired.

    MY QUESTION: If what happens in the District of Columbia becomes the norm around the country, how do you anticipate school districts will respond to their teaching staffs turning over so rapidly? Do you see the rapid turnover helping student achievement? If not now, how long from now?

  15. Dear Mr. Duncan: Others have written and stated “what can be done to enhance the teaching profession?” and “what about compensation for teaching?” I am only adjunct faculty for the past three years for Tarrant County College District in Fort Worth, Texas. As an adjunct, with a full-load of teaching, I make less than $1200. per month. Yes, that is what I said. During this past summer, for three months, I have not had a paycheck because my one and only class was canceled. I do not know if I will ever be hired as full-time faculty, although this is my dream. I have a stellar teaching record and my students love me. So, why can’t I obtain full-time employment as a teacher and be able to sustain myself financially, instead of having to work two jobs as I continue to complete my dissertation and my PhD Program of Study? For every full-time Psychology position posted, there are at least 300 people who apply for that position where I work. Most are not qualified. The one person hired last year only had a master’s degree and all who were in the final interviews, have no desire of getting their PhD. Does my higher education pay off in the long run? Who will help me pay back the U.S. Government this student loan that is now $100,000. when I cannot even work full-time for the school I so dearly love? Believe it or not, some of us continue to take the part-time left-over teaching positions because we love teaching. For me, I continue to do this because I know I am making a difference every time I walk into the classroom or have email correspondence with a former student of mine. I am changing lives, one student at a time. That sustains me, as I wait for the full-time placement in this job that I love.

    How about a story of wonder and kindness that is happening right here in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area? I believe this woman is an angel sent from heaven, but she says her name is Ginabeth Osgood and that she is just a “normal” person. What is normal? I ask my students this all the time.

    I am an adjunct instructor of Psychology for Trinity River Campus in Fort Worth Texas, under the direction of Dr. Lori Fowler as my Department Chair. This past Spring, I taught three Psychology Classes and all of them were “Service Learning” Courses. What this means is hands-on learning, applied outside of the classroom in a real-life setting, and then brought back into the classroom through keeping journals, discussion groups, presentations, or some method of assessing the learning outcomes academically. This was my first semester to give Service Learning a ‘try’ and I designed my own projects for my students in all three classes. I was eager to do this, as I have volunteered and dedicated my life to helping others. What we learned has changed the lives of many. My students’ reflection papers were so moving that I sent some of them to the President of our Campus, Dr. Tahita Fulkerson, along with a letter from me and a disc of the best final presentation delivered by two of my students. Dignitaries were invited to attend this class and hear the presentation, along with participating in the question and answer session immediately following. I am getting ahead of myself and the story. Here it is:

    Presbyterian Night Shelter was our agency for two of my three classes. I met Ginabeth the day before Palm Sunday, on 3 April 2010. She had asked for an iron and an ironing board. Now, this may not seem like a strange request, except that Presbyterian Night Shelter feeds and houses 705 people nightly. They had to search to find an iron and an ironing board for Ginabeth. This is not something normally requested for a person living at a homeless shelter. Yes, that is what I said. Ginabeth was not at Presbyterian Night Shelter just to be served a meal and spend one night – she was living there and had been doing so for the past four years. The woman caught my eye, in the midst of all others, because right there in the middle of the walkway, she was standing there ironing every single wrinkle out of her dress for the next day, Palm Sunday. I cautiously approached her and asked if I could speak with her. You see, my group of Psychology students were at the Shelter to serve the homeless. They were conducting their second Service Learning visit and part of their mission was to serve food to the hungry and then to interview the homeless, if allowed to do so. The previous night, I had escorted and worked with 25 of my students (a different Psychology class) at the same Shelter and had a professional photographer with me. Students were also informed of who, how and when they could take photographs and were advised to ask residents of the shelter to sign release of image forms before doing so. Ginabeth told me she was upset that a picture of “her bed” was snapped the night before and she did not appreciate that because her bed was untidy. I apologized for that and once we got past that, she asked me what we were really doing at the Night Shelter. I asked if I could interview her and Ginabeth said, “Yes, I would like that.”

    My interviewing skills are excellent because of past employment, so I immediately put Ginabeth at ease by asking her about the dress she was ironing. I asked if that was necessary, since she was at the Shelter and she stated, “Yes, it is Sunday tomorrow and I must look nice.” I told her that I understood. We talked about simple things for a couple of minutes and then I asked Ginabeth why she was staying at the Shelter and she told me, “This is where God wants me to be.” I said, “Why don’t you go home?” Ginabeth said, “This is my home.” I asked how long she had been living at the Shelter and she stated it had been four years. I asked Ginabeth why she did not work so that she did not have to be at the Shelter, and again she looked perturbed at me and stated, “I do work. This is my work. I work here at the Shelter.” Now, I have almost completed my doctorate, consider myself to be somewhat intelligent, and yet, must admit that I felt very foolish that it was just now beginning to sink in that Ginabeth WANTED to be in this noisy, dirty, open living environment because it was her calling. Living at the Night Shelter was and is her calling from God. Ginabeth told me that she ministers to people when they come to the shelter, and I am certain she does this in a very nurturing way. She is soft-spoken. Her eyes dance when she speaks of God.

    Ginabeth started quoting bible verses to me when I began asking her about the operations of PNS and people affiliated with PNS. This was her way of making herself comfortable with the uncomfortable questions I was asking. Ginabeth would not say a bad word about anything or anyone. She did confirm my thoughts and suspicions, however. Ginabeth also told me who I could speak with for more information, and I did just that before leaving my last time there.

    I asked if I could have a picture taken of her and asked if I could tell her story to my students and share it with others. She told me, “Yes, but only if you will let me go and fix my hair, change my shirt, and be in the picture with me.” I truly believed that Ginabeth was disappearing so as not to have her picture taken, but ten minutes later, she came back with her hair up, a sweater on, and a great big smile on her face. I put my arms around her and informed Ginabeth that I would tell her story. She said, “When will I see you, Gayle Hall, again?” I told her that it would not be until the fall. It was then that Ginabeth told me she would be leaving the first part of August. I asked her why she was leaving, after living at Presbyterian Night Shelter for four years. She told me that it was her time to go. I asked her where she was going and she said that she could not tell me. Much to my surprise, she asked me if I had email. I was shocked, laughed, and told her “yes” and we exchanged email addresses. I do not know where Ginabeth is going. I even asked how she was getting there and she would not tell me. I believe she is flying first class, because she has hidden wings. Ginabeth is an angel among us here on Earth.

    Not all of the stories from Presbyterian Night Shelter were happy ones and many were so sad that we cried as a group after writing and reading our reflection papers. My students were instructed to learn out in the field first-hand, what they had been taught in the classroom; Social Psychology, including conformity, stereotyping, obedience, prejudice, aggression, and discrimination. Students were instructed to interview the residents who would allow them to do so and determine personality theory and psychopathology. My students were strictly advised not to diagnose anyone. This was not the focus of our Psychology Class. In our Service Learning Psychology Class, the intent was to learn what it is like to be viewed as a homeless person in society, what it is like to be hungry, what it is like to be viewed as a second-rate citizen, and the psychological impact of being homeless.

    My students final project was a 2-4 person team effort of designing a program to benefit the homeless population. One of my classes just “wowed” me. I knew they were going to hit the high mark because of their interest and enthusiasm, so I invited an official from the Court System, an official from the Homeless Coalition, and an official from the Federal Government to sit in and join our class for the final presentations. They applauded my students. I was so impressed that I took the professional media/video disc (video made by Mr. Michael Saunders of TRC) and added photos, taken by my students and by the photographer, and combined all into one presentation and titled it, “Homelessness-the Invisible World” and sent it to the President, Dr. Tahita Fulkerson, of Trinity River Campus (Tarrant County College District). The work was done by my students. The heroes are the ones who help the victims of the homeless, like Ginabeth is doing. I compare her with Mother Teresa. Ginabeth is not just talking about doing something helpful. She is living with the homeless.

    Service Learning – does it change a student’s way of thinking, learning, or living? You tell me. I personally cannot think of a better way of teaching critical thinking skills than to learn knowledge and comprehension in the classroom through small group work after lecture and debate or films and discussion, apply what is learned by going to an approved agency and conducting service learning work as directed by the instructor, and finally, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating what has just been learned through the final project for academic purposes. Not only did my students learn from this experience and their Service Learning trips, I learned so much from my students. Thank you to the Hall Psychology Students from Spring 2010. Godspeed to Ginabeth Osgood as she makes her mission to spread the word. Please keep her safe.

    Thank you for allowing me to share my story with you. For those teachers who do not like their jobs, please leave. Students can tell if you like being in the classroom or not. Some of us truly want to teach.

  16. As a candidate, President Obama promised funding for repairs to school buildings and a return to a curriculum that included the arts and humanities.

    What happened to these promises, which have NOT been delivered? Schools are still in poor repair and the curriculum has been reduced to standardized test-preparation– while the arts, humanities, and physical education have been slashed in too many districts.

    In addition, Mrs. Obama is emphasizing nutrition and physical activity for American children. Yet, the school breakfast and lunch programs are saturated with unhealthy foods, while phys. ed. and recess have been cut to schedule more sedentary rote learning (for standardized tests). How is this in any way conducive to improving our children’s health?

    Finally, when will you actually *pay attention* to teachers and educate yourself about what is really best for American schools and students?

  17. Mr. Duncan,
    I teach 3-5th grade students with severe/profound intellectual disabilities. They require diapering and feeding, usually do not walk, and cannot speak. Most do not even know their own name. They can’t hold a pencil, do not know the purpose of a book, and have no understanding of anything academic. Mentally, they are functioning at about 6-18 months. NONE have mastered any preschool goals, yet NCLB has us teaching and assessing them on K-12 goals. It is absolutely insane!
    We feel as if not one politician who voted in NCLB knows anything about children who have IQs below 30! If they did, there is no way they would expect us to have these students work on map reading, butterfly lifecycles, or math computation!
    PLEASE tell us the Department of Education is looking into this injustice and giving us a more appropriate choice for these very low functioning, but lovable children. Somebody, somewhere, has got to see that what is going on with our severe and profoundly disabled students regarding assessments, is much like trying to teach calculus to a kindergartner; it’s just plain wrong. We need your help! Thank you for reading this.

  18. •What can we do to enhance the teaching profession? As national standards become the norm the next step is national standards for teaching and leading. National Board for Certified Teachers and National Board for Certified Principals must become the backbone for a career management system similar to military officers. Officers are commissioned, complete officer basic, the career course, followed by command and general staff college and finally war college…..assignments managed by feds and states round out a professional’s career. Today, administrative licensure is a single credentialing event followed by a series of field experiences……until American can professionalize its teacher corps and administrative corps we will continue to drift……we cannot drift into excellence.

    •How can we do a better job of encouraging and rewarding excellent teaching? Here in Central Louisiana we are implementing a rural teacher residency program funded by U.S. Department of Education Teacher Quality grant. We are very proud of our 150 some schools in nine rural parishes streching from Mississippi to Texas. Our flagship university Louisiana State is providing a content masters in math and science. The residents co-teach 4 days a week in various math and science classrooms and on the fifth day they take graduate courses. This highly successful way of producing teachers has exceeded our expectations just as Boston has succeeded with its urban teacher residency program. The program sets the standard for how teachers should be prepared and how they should be supported over time…..programs such of this were a wise investment Mr Secretary…thank you. Now help us certify leaders to enable them to create the conditions for success. We have partnered with National Board for Professional Teaching Standards to implement their new National Board for Certified Prinicpals. We applied and are anxioiusly awaiting your award of a School Leadership Program grant to enable us to certify sitting principals and assistant principals of low achieving schools. These same schools will get 60 rural residents over the next 5 years. The residents and the prinicipals and assistant prinicipals will work togther with coaches to tune up their curriculum, assessment, adn integrate 21st Century Skills into their curriculum. By the way Louisiana is one of only a few states with a robust Longitudinal Data Tracking system and one of a few states to adapt the Milliken TAP program. Mr. Secretary, we welcome your support and encourage you to visit us to see first hand how we must encourage and support teachers and leaders.

    •How can we do a better job of measuring success? First we must move to include students in the assessment equation. Assessment for Learning (AFL) is no longer just a gtood idea….it has been integrated into NCTM. Yet we continue to rely on summative data to sort students. Our teacher residency program uses assessment for learning and Louisiana’s Longitudinal Data Tracking Sytem to ensure students are developing their own rubrics, goals, and that teachers learn how to give decriptive feedback. One can expect effect size of .04 to .07….. Second, we must embrace intrinsic motivation as called for in Deci and Ryan’s Self-Determination Theory…..when a child’s need for autonomy, competence and relatedness is met we get the holy grail…..active engagement.

  19. In Florida, the teachers are already so stressed about the FCAT (standard state-wide) that they keep children from exercise, recess, and PE in favor or more and more drills. It seems that RttT will only make the problem worse, especially when it comes to fighting childhood What are you doing to make sure that testing, worksheets, and drills don’t overshadow a well-rounded education in the art, music, and PE?

  20. What evidence do we have that charter schools improve achievement and outcomes? Recent studies in the US are inconclusive at best, and no comparable systems in the entire world are deregulated. In fact, systems most often invidiously compared to ours are more regulated (e.g., Japan, Germany, China, India, Finland). Are charter schools just another wild leap of faith?

  21. What do you think is a reasonable amount for teacher compensation?

    Make the assumption that the teacher is the ideal teacher therefore deserving of top pay. Keep in mind the teacher has paid for or will pay for a minimum of a master’s degree. Also the teacher will pay out of his/her own pocket for yearly trainings. Also the teacher will pay for 100% of supplies used during the year including pens, paper, staples, tape, white board markers etc. Also the teacher will purchase curriculum and supplies for students including notebooks, pencils, books, lunch money, shoes etc.

    I love my job and I love my students. However when I compare my income to the income I could be earning with a similar amount of education, it makes it hard to justify remaining in the teaching profession. When I counsel my students into choosing a profession of their own, it is increasingly difficult for me to suggest they become teachers. It is not financially logical to become a teacher as it is.

    I think there is a point of view that teachers are one step above volunteer workers. That all the unpaid time good teachers put in is expected. That teachers should not expect to get paid well, have job security or decent benefits. The reality is teachers are supporting families and are very active in their communities and until the pay matches the job, it will be very difficult to attract the best teachers and retain all of the great teachers who are already in place fighting daily for the improvement in learning for their students.

  22. When this nation, as a whole, values education…then we will be going somewhere. Look at any other country outside of the United States–teachers are given so much respect and appreciation. In the United States, teachers are the scapegoat for the downfall of society. I am a teacher who has a Masters degree, and is halfway through an Ed.S. degree as well. I have spent over half of my “summer vacation” doing various kinds of professional development. I believe in year-round schooling, but who will fund it?
    Frankly, all of the negativity surrounding education makes me wish I had majored in something else. I could have been a doctor, if I had wanted to be, but I saw more value in educating children–after all, no one would be in the jobs they have today–not even doctors, if there were no teachers.
    I wouldn’t even mind working for the meager salary I make if I was at least given an ounce of respect by the media and by the rest of the nation.
    Secretary Duncan, I have read every post on this page so far, and I sincerely hope you consider the value of the comments written here, particularly those written by “Kelley”, “Mister”, and “Harold”. Believe it or not, there are plenty of truly dedicated educators out here in the world, trying to make a difference every day. Please focus on us, and focus on the students, instead of on the negativity.

  23. Mr. Duncan,

    Tuesday at the National Press Club you said “Physical Education is NOT an extra.”

    Though physical education meets the same criteria for rigor that other core subjects in education do, physical education is conspicuously absent from the current list of subjects defined as the core. If you believe that “Physical Education is NOT an extra”
    will the you advocate for the inclusion of physical education as a core academic subject?

    Thank you for responding to my question.

  24. Why are testing scores seen as the end goal. Have you explored other ways to measure performance? So many important skills are left out for students when teachers need to teach to a test. Demographics needs to be considered as well as the structure of the students in a particular class. Look at it this way, a doctor is a good doctor and the word spreads. He gets many sick patient because of his caring manner and ability to help people who are sick. Many are not cured, perhaps they worsen and die. Does this count against that doctor, should he be fired because all patients do not respond to treatment? Teaching is an art, not a science that can be solely measured by testing scores. As teachers we need to help students think and want to learn on their own, their own way. Tests do not measure these things. This needs to kept at the front of the discussion.

  25. Why should teachers enter into a conversation with you in a blog format or in a radio town hall meeting format?

    Clearly you do not value them.
    Clearly you have no respect for them.

    Your public statements and policy initiatives blame and diminish their work.

  26. 1. From your perspective, what is the purpose of education? Some believe it is to create the next generation of workers; others believe it is to create a democratic citizenry; still others say we should do both. What do you believe? What actions have you taken that support your beliefs?

    2.Do you value teachers? What have you done in your role as US Secretary of Education to send a message to this country’s teachers that they are valued?

    3. How do you define a “good” teacher?

  27. Students in Special Education need to be included in all aspects of the educational system and higher expectations need to be set. Too often they are set up on the “special diploma” track since it is easier to pass the child through the system. Also students need to be given support with mental health professionals and behavior specialist that are in the classroom working with the student and teacher on a daily basis. The use of Baker Acts and juvenile detention centers are overused especially with our minority students. Many of these students have great potential if the proper support systems are put in place to address their academic, social, and emotional growth are developed Birth through 12th grade.

  28. 1. What can we to to enhance the teaching profession?

    Respect us. Do not treat us like lab animals by threatening us with dismissal or offering paltry rewards.

    2. How can we do a better job of encouraging and rewarding excellent teaching?

    Respect us. Admit that 95% of teachers work hours beyond the school day, give up vacation time and weekends for professional development, spend on average $1000 of our own money on our classrooms each year, worry about our students and their families, and change our practice on a continual basis in order to meet our students’ needs. Admit that any professional who does these things must be exceptional.

    3. How can we do a better job of measuring success?

    Success in the classroom is not measured while students are sitting there. It is especially not measured by high-stakes tests. Students have succeeded when they leave school, obtain fulfilling employment, and contribute to their families and society positively. In other words, you know a student has succeeded when she or he succeeds at life.

  29. Mr. Duncan,

    How will the government work with school districts to address the non-academic barriers to learning?
    These barriers include poverty, violence, and a lack of positive adult role models.

    There is plenty of evidence to indicate that stressed, un-healthy students will not be motivated and able to learn (See recent research by Charles Basch, March 2010). These findings apply to all communities, not only the urban school districts.

  30. Can monetary resources be made available ASAP to both public and private schools to have the ability to offer after school enrichment / tutorial programs for any interested student who wants assistance with Math and Reading improvement? Our young boys and girls struggle in these areas most and without help they are guaranteed to spend their entire school life stressed out and unencouraged about learning.

    It’s a terrible feeling to have your heart rate increase, sweaty palms, and sheer nervousness when test time comes because you’re not comfortable with Math or Reading. When you understand a subject and are profecient in that subject these feelings of stress are much less powerful.

  31. In our district there is a clear division in the test scores of schools in the more affluent part of the district and those in the more impoverished areas. Does Mr. Duncan feel that those results are because the better teachers are at the more affluent schools? If you want to characterize education as a race, as he does, the starting line for the impoverished schools is far behind the schools in the more affluent communities. As a parent once told me, “Anyone can teach students who come to school each day with all of their needs met.”

    Education should not be a race to the top. There are so many detours learning should take that may not equate to higher test scores. I see education as a journey or an adventure. As we “race to the top” we are missing the truly important life lessons our children need.

  32. While corporate partnerships with public schools have been known to provide students with genuinely constructive learning opportunities (see Springfield, Missouri’s City Utilities/Central HS, ca. mid’90s for an exemplary partnership), big business continues to squeeze the soul out of the enterprise your department is charged to supervise.

    Drawing from Dickens’ mid-19th century satire Hard Times, what have you done/are you doing to ensure that the personal and institutional Gradgrind’s and Bounderby’s of the modern era keep a suitable distance from our schools?

  33. - How do we ensure that those schools that ‘Race to the Top’ are not hiding behind a charter status and was able to select a student body that excluded children with learning disabilities, low performance and or those learning English as a second language? The trend is worrisome.

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