In Honor of Teacher Appreciation Week: An Open Letter from Arne Duncan to America’s Teachers

I have worked in education for much of my life. I have met with thousands of teachers in great schools and struggling schools, in big cities and small towns, and I have a deep and genuine appreciation for the work you do. I know that most teachers did not enter the profession for the money. You became teachers to make a difference in the lives of children, and for the hard work you do each day, you deserve to be respected, valued, and supported.

I consider teaching an honorable and important profession, and it is my goal to see that you are treated with the dignity we award to other professionals in society. In too many communities, the profession has been devalued. Many of the teachers I have met object to the imposition of curriculum that reduces teaching to little more than a paint-by-numbers exercise. I agree.

Inside your classroom, you exercise a high degree of autonomy. You decide when to slow down to make sure all of your students fully understand a concept, or when a different instructional strategy is needed to meet the needs of a few who are struggling to keep up. You build relationships with students from a variety of backgrounds and with a diverse array of needs, and you find ways to motivate and engage them. I appreciate the challenge and skill involved in the work you do and applaud those of you who have dedicated your lives to teaching.

Many of you have told me you are willing to be held accountable for outcomes over which you have some control, but you also want school leaders held accountable for creating a positive and supportive learning environment. You want real feedback in a professional setting rather than drive-by visits from principals or a single score on a bubble test. And you want the time and opportunity to work with your colleagues and strengthen your craft.

You have told me you believe that the No Child Left Behind Act has prompted some schools—especially low-performing ones—to teach to the test, rather than focus on the educational needs of students. Because of the pressure to boost test scores, NCLB has narrowed the curriculum, and important subjects like history, science, the arts, foreign languages, and physical education have been de-emphasized. And you are frustrated when teachers alone are blamed for educational failures that have roots in broken families, unsafe communities, misguided reforms, and underfunded schools systems. You rightfully believe that responsibility for educational quality should be shared by administrators, community, parents, and even students themselves.

The teachers I have met are not afraid of hard work, and few jobs today are harder. Moreover, it’s gotten harder in recent years; the challenges kids bring into the classroom are greater and the expectations are higher. Not too long ago, it was acceptable for schools to have high dropout rates, and not all kids were expected to be proficient in every subject. In today’s economy, there is no acceptable dropout rate, and we rightly expect all children—English-language learners, students with disabilities, and children of poverty—to learn and succeed.

You and I are here to help America’s children. We understand that the surest way to do that is to make sure that the 3.2 million teachers in America’s classrooms are the very best they can be. The quality of our education system can only be as good as the quality of our teaching force.

So I want to work with you to change and improve federal law, to invest in teachers and strengthen the teaching profession. Together with you, I want to develop a system of evaluation that draws on meaningful observations and input from your peers, as well as a sophisticated assessment that measures individual student growth, creativity, and critical thinking. States, with the help of teachers, are now developing better assessments so you will have useful information to guide instruction and show the positive impact you are having on our children.

Working together, we can transform teaching from the factory model designed over a century ago to one built for the information age. We can build an accountability system based on data we trust and a standard that is honest—one that recognizes and rewards great teaching, gives new or struggling teachers the support they need to succeed, and deals fairly, efficiently, and compassionately with teachers who are simply not up to the job. With your input and leadership, we can restore the status of the teaching profession so more of America’s top college students choose to teach because no other job is more important or more fulfilling.

In the next decade, half of America’s teachers are likely to retire. What we do to recruit, train, and retain our new teachers will shape public education in this country for a generation. At the same time, how we recognize, honor, and show respect for our experienced educators will reaffirm teaching as a profession of nation builders and social leaders dedicated to our highest ideals. As that work proceeds, I want you to know that I hear you, I value you, and I respect you.

Arne Duncan is the U.S. Secretary of Education.

Cross-posted from Education Week.

160 Comments

  1. Mr. Duncan,

    As a result of your policies, an urban high school I helped start in Providence, which had closed the achievement gap in both reading and writing, beating the state averages in RI, NH and VT, and with the highest rate of college enrollment and retention among neighborhood high schools in the city, was named “persistently low performing” and closed last year.

    Your actions speak MUCH more loudly than than your words.

    • Tom, I taught at UCAP in Providence and know that the small schools were doing the best work in Rhode Island with the toughest students. I’m so sorry to hear that your school closed and I too wonder when we can expect real leadership in positive directions. Certainly not from Arne Duncan.

  2. Dear Mr Duncan,

    We are very disappointed in your performance. I give you a big fat “F” as Secretary of Education.

  3. What is overwhelmingly clear is that the largest factor in student underperformance is poverty. You are holding teachers responsible for overcoming the multiple effects of poverty under the guise of holding teachers responsible for performance. As a teacher who works in a high achieving and wealthy school district, I find your tactics to be profoundly unfair to the teachers (and, as a result, the students) in the poorest of of communities. You are not hurting me. You are hurting the communities working under the hardest of conditions by demoralizing teachers (often those just starting out), causing a teacher turnover that does dis-service to the students, and really is there to serve politicians rather than kids learning. Your policies in this area are among my biggest disappointments of the Obama administration, which I largely stand in support of. This rhetoric sounds good, but does not make up for the damage done by your policies.

    • Dawn – I want to applaud your speaking truth to power. You are right. Teachers and leaders in high poverty districts like mine are being punished just in the way you mention. We are given neither financial nor technical support from the experts who come and judge our work in continual drive-by evaluations conducted by retired authorities who presume to have all the answers on paper but give us nothing to make their suggestions possible. Demands for accelerated improvement plans are as full of empty rhetoric as Secretary Duncan’s letter to teachers. The real cultural heros in education are the tireless teachers and underpaid paraprofessionals who see their work as true vocation and keep giving to the children and parents in their communities year after year no matter what. I, too, am a big Obama supporter and deeply disappointed that the administration’s policies are driving a deeper divide in public education between rich and poor.

    • You are exactly right, Dawn. Teachers cannot overcome the poverty in students’ lives under the current conditions (or pretty much any other), but with proper support, not penalties and punishments, things could be a lot better.

      Get Bill Gates, Michelle Rhee, Eli Broad, and the like out of our schools. Help the teachers who are struggling with ever-increasing workload, backwards steps in salary, and vitriol from the public.

      While I, too, support Obama, I am disappointed in what has happened on his watch with Secretary Duncan.

  4. Actions speak louder than words ever do Duncan. Are you just blowing smoke or flat out lying? I would say more but I’m not tenured, although if you have your way that I won’t ever have to worry about tenure, will I?

  5. Dear Secretary Duncan,

    I can’t imagine what it must be like to have your job. In the politically divisive times in which we live, education may be one of the few areas where everyone can actually find some common ground. Too often though, as clearly demonstrated by the majority of the postings here, that common ground is frustration, confusion, and anger. Outdated legislation, party politics, a struggling economy, and a national media that seems to thrive on reporting overwhelmingly negative stories (usually with inflammatory rhetoric designed to increase ratings and viewership) continue to fan the flames of the great fire that stands in the way of forward progress.

    As a public school teacher at a “failing” school (based on AYP) I’ll readily admit that I get pulled into the fray too. It’s hard not to feel that way. I work very hard. My career choice consumes the majority of my day, extending far beyond “contract time,” leisure time, and even bedtime. Teaching is the most difficult and challenging job I have encountered. Even my close friends don’t realize understand how a modern school functions or what I do on a day to day basis. This is a problem.

    I had a corporate career first and chose to become a teacher, even though it entailed night school, graduate school debt, and of course, a reduction in pay. It’s been nearly four years now and I am still happy about my choice despite the challenges. I am uncertain about the future, but I know that I love working with students. For every negative report about the state of the quantitative data collected I can probably counter it with stories of hopeful students who crave success. I am not alone, my school is filled with colleagues who can do the same thing. I know this sounds Pollyanna but it is the truth.

    I don’t have any magic bullets for the many problems that plague our profession. However, I do believe that we need to change the tenor of the stories being reported in the news. I am impressed with the outreach the Obama administration is doing, particularly with regard to social media. There are so many hidden gems out there. Keep seeking them out and let the public know! Teachers love to share, seek new ways to let them.

    I encourage you to double and triple your efforts to highlight positive stories, encourage community participation, and draw constituents into the fold. Without public support, a legislative solution to our problems will never happen.

    Change never happens overnight but I feel that the public, and this teacher, is hungry for some good news and I know it is out there.

    One last thing, I was a little hesitant to submit this post for fear of negative comments. However, I need to walk my talk and try to highlight something positive so here you go.

  6. Secretary Duncan:

    Thank you for your best wishes on this Teacher Appreciation Day. Please forgive me, however, if your message rings a bit hollow in my ears.

    I have chosen, you see, to devote the entirety of the past ten years of my teaching career serving at-risk adolescents and young adults. My vocation is to serve at a high school situated in the poorest neighborhood of the poorest city in the poorest part of California. None of the realities I face on a daily basis would cause surprise, or at least they shouldn’t, so I will no go into the details. I will stress, however, that I see what I do as service, not work or mere employment.

    I wonder how many of teachers at my school site who were laid off in March also saw their jobs as a service to some of our nation’s poorest students, their families, and our future generations. How many of the 250+ teachers in my district who lost their jobs at the same time also saw what they do daily as a vocation, not an occupation? Granted California has created, in a variety of ways quite beyond the scope of this thank you note, the fiscal mess it’s in. But I have to wonder if perhaps these lay-offs could have somehow been avoided with a little help from the politicians who value and respect us oh, so much, in Washington D.C. Perhaps if we had been allocated even a smidgen of the USD 4,000,000,000 in tax subsidies granted to the oil and gas industry, these teachers might have be able to continue to serve their impoverished community in the coming school years, no?

    For that matter, I am sure that more than a few teachers fired at Central Falls High School in Rhode Island also saw their teaching as their vocation as well. (In case you’ve forgotten, allow me to trip your memory – both you and President Obama cheered their March 2010 firings, with Obama releasing a press statement saying in effect that those teachers were finally being held accountable for failing to do their jobs year after year.

    And just 14 months later, here you are telling me that you appreciate and respect all that I do, day after day, for my students. Forgive me if I can’t seem to find the words to thank you enough for this sentiment, seeing as both you and the president you serve have done little more than metaphorically slap my face, day after day, since 2009.

  7. You have to be kidding Mr. Duncan. This letter means nothing after what you have done.

    You cannot claim to respect teachers when your policies have been hostile to teachers. Yes, I meant hostile. We cannot think of educational reform when you scapegoat teachers knowing full well that many of the problems of education are way out of a teacher’s control.

    To begin with, we are limited by our administrator’s decisions at all levels. Our school boards at local and state levels have been run by business people. Even LAUSD’s Ramon Cortines said, “I run school like a business”. With such leaders it is no wonder schools are failing. Business people are trying to run the school for which I work and I get poor quality pencils that rip apart when you sharpen them all to save a buck. How can you expect students to learn like this? In order to be able to finish the curriculum in time for the standardized test I am not allowed by my principal to slow down regardless of whether the students are learning or not yet your “reform” punishes me. I teach third grade, yet I have 3 students who cannot read at a first grade level, yet you expect me to be able to make them score proficient? You are a clown by talking to us in such a way after all that you have done.

    Furthermore, your RTTT runs so counter to the research on learning. The schools that are actually failing are those that are underfunded, yet you deny them the funding they need for good materials. Schools that are performing well are usually in wealthier districts yet these are the ones getting more funding.

    You have asked for our help in reform, we will see how well you mean it by your next steps. Here is my view. We teachers are not opposed to reform, we are opposed to having bureaucrats and businessmen having more clout than us teachers.

    For a school to be successful it needs appropriate, well managed funding; support; time; appropriate training; necessary resources. Schools today don’t have these. Let’s take a look at them. To begin with, the funding. The politicians at the federal and state levels keep slicing the budget in education, yet you expect us to work wonders. Your RTTT, for example only provides funds to schools that are already performing well. There is little motivation for failing schools to improve. The California legislature attacks school funding first whenever they miscalculate their economic plans. Budget cuts to education means less teachers. Less teachers means larger class sizes. Larger class sizes means that students fall through the cracks and this means a compromised quality of education. You want to improve education, hold politicians accountable for maintaining appropriate school funding. Unfortunately the little bit of money that comes into education is mismanaged by school boards and cabinets. The Compton Unified School District pays its superintendent and its cabinet a phone allowance, a car allowance and an insurance allowance. In other words, their personal car, their personal cell phone and their personal car insurance gets paid with district funds. How does this lead to student achievement? This is such an outrage considering that this is in addition to their already high salary! The member of the cabinet who makes the least already earns $180,000 not counting these perks I mentioned. If you want to reform education, stop putting the burden on teachers alone and hold these administrators accountable for such scandalous misuse of funds.

    NCLB has taken a lot of support from our schools. The current attempts by those who call themselves reformers have taken support out of our school. The mere elimination of tenure going on in many states is in and of itself an elimination of the support teachers need. Tenure needs to be in place for the good teachers to be protected from bad administrators. There are many charter schools where bad administrators have let untenured teachers go for ridiculous things. I worked in one where I was let go because I confronted the principal for forging teacher signatures on state documents. Teachers need to be supported in their efforts to address the needs of all students in the classroom. The current flawed systems of evaluating schools based on scores (I’m talking about AYP and API) has led to some administrators to focus on a limited gamut of students while forsaking others. My principal has actually told me to focus on those students who are a few points away from making it from Baic to Proficient on the CST’s and on those who are so close to dropping from Proficient to Basic. It has gone to the point where I have actually been told to put less effort on those students who score Far Below Basic. All in an attempt to get your precious RTTT.

    Time, I don’t have much to say. We do have plenty of time to achieve success if we have all other elements in place. On second thought. We don’t have the time to catch up students who should have been held back. As I stated earlier, I have 3 students who can’t read at a first grade level. What are they doing in my class? They should have been held back until they are ready to learn what I am suppose to teach. Do you really think that in this one year that I have with them I can teach them everything that they were supposed to learn for the past three years? If they were not able to keep up one year at a time, you must be joking if you think they can catch up on all that time in this one year that they have with me. Why punish me because the school or the parents have refused to hold a child back?

    I have lately heard that a lot of the reform has been done by TFA who ony train their teachers for several weeks. Do you really think that this limited teaching will be better than the two years training that teachers already have?

    Necessary resources are lacking mostly because the lack of funding we have already spoken off.

    Duncan the time has come for you to put the proverbial money where your mouth is. If we are to truly reform education we must listen less to the crazy nuts who have little or no experience in education and focus more on the teachers. If the reformers don’t have at least ten years teaching experience don’t listen to them for they don’t know what they are talking about. School is failing because leaders such as yourself have been listening to businessmen who don’t have teaching experience and all they care about is a quick buck and not about the children. Focus on those who are in the classroom. Those of us who teach know what really happens in education and what we really need to promote a successful educational school.

    Good administration-(Gates+Rhee+ Ben Austin+Walton’s) X ample teacher support= a successful child.

    • BRAVO!!! BRAVO, VICTOR!!! Your message perfectly captured how every single teacher feels at this very moment. There is a lot of double talking and hypocrisy going on here: the incestuous business practices in school districts that prevent money from trickling down to the classroom, the empty logic of using standardized test as a means of assessment when curriculum stresses teachers to emphasize the use of higher order thinking skills and inquiry, holding teachers accountable for students’ growth even when parents refuse to monitor their child’s progress and continue to push their child through the system…

      Mr. Duncan you have visited our school district several times and you have congratulated our superintendent for installing “pay for performance” (which will only bring more testing to our school– including K-2 testing, art, music, special education, gym, drama and dance standardized testing), and cutting our budget when he has let go of thousands of valuable teachers and support staff, only to replace them with “Teach For America” “play” teachers(AKA a school district’s alternative name for “outsourcing”), and keep higher paid administrators on payroll. How is this an example of progress? How have you shown to be an educational advocate?

      Teacher morale is so low you have teachers leaving their classrooms in the middle of the day and quitting on the spot. Those of us with higher degrees and special talents cannot afford to stay in this profession for the long haul, as long as you denounce our master’s degrees and advanced certificates. We WILL find other occupations that may not be as fulfilling, but at least we would be able to make a living again, and hopefully help to pay off our student loans! In the end, America will be left with underqualified “play” teachers like those from “Teach for America.”

      You should be ashamed of what NCLB is doing to education and for letting big business get involved in education. Save capitalism for Wall Street- not for the classroom!

  8. Arne Duncan, your actions are so loud that your words mean nothing. You have done everything in your power to destroy public education and the stalwart teachers therein. As in every profession, there are some teachers who are lousy, but most of us are terrific. And your Race to the Top, standardized test mania, Common Core, value-added pay, and every other directive you’ve put forth have all demeaned teachers and done grave harm to our kids. Shame on you. If you want to honor teachers and kids, then leave education, forever.

  9. Let’s see, today I watched as a student was suspended for 10 days for punching the wall of a hallway after being told to put his cell phone away while he was breaking up with a girlfriend. I stopped to write a report while my students waited. I listened as 4 or more students asked me if I had any extra food from lunch since I know there is probably not much at home since both parents lost their jobs. I answered a couple of emails from concerned parents about why their students are skipping school. I listened as a frustrated teacher was told by a “out of classroom ” peer teacher coach to watch out for her job because her reading scores weren’t high enough. (Yes, we just love those “master teachers” who know everything about our teaching styles. I listened intently at lunch as 4 highly qualified long time teachers have decided to leave the profession because of the almost %10 percent paycut our legislature has pushed through in various teacher bashing initiatives. And…yes, I taught to our numerous state mandated tests all day long…eerr, sorry the proper word isn’t taught anymore…it’s “prepare.” Yet, what a wonderfully contrived self-serving condescending, politically self aggrandizing letter from a director who goes silent on the real front line issues we face everyday in the classroom. I need to wash my hands. I’m feeling publicly “used” again. A better letter would have been to publish the “appreciative, supporting” one you should have written to ours, Governor Scott, those other “blame labor” governors who have stripped us of pay and benefits, and are trying to destroy our free speech rights and workplace conditions. Where was that letter (and the one from your boss who claimed he would put on his boots and help us.)

  10. “Happy Teachers Day” from Arne Duncan. Ha ha ha ha ha.

    Duncan proudly embraces a particularly toxic brew of ed “reforms.” He’s done just about everything he could to ensure that the morale of public school teachers is in the dumps.

    The best thing teachers could do for themselves this summer is to read “Shock Doctrine” by Naomi Klein. They need to learn what “neo-liberal” reform is all about and how Duncan’s approach is actually about the killing off of public ed.

  11. Why do teachers need a week to be celebrated?? Our children are falling behind children in other countries in education, yet we waste more time celebrating teachers for a week. Teachers work for one half of the year, yet we celebrate them for a week, I just don’t get it.

      • I live in the United States where teacher’s contract call for them working 180 days. As for working nights and week-ends the teachers I know are home by at 3:30pm and their contract states they only have to stay at school one night a year to meet with parents. Where do you live that it is different?????

        • Dear Jill,
          I am sorry to inform you that there are NO teachers that leave at 3:30pm MOST stay until 6pm in North carolina to make sure THEIR STUDENTS ARE Prepared. Are you a teacher? Where Do you work?

        • Jill. Do you get a weekend? There are 52 weeks in a year. So that is 104 days that you get off. Add in a week of vacation. 111. A three day weekend here and there like memorial day or veterans day or new years and any number of other days. 120. And you have about a third of the year off yourself. So please don’t feed me anything about how we only work half the year.

          I started my work day at 7:30 this morning. Won’t be leaving til 5. What time did you get to work this morning?

          During production weeks I will do three shows in a weekend and pull even later nights sometimes working on sets til 9:00 or 10:00pm.

          Also, most teachers go home with at least an hour or two of planning and grading to do each night. Most people get done at 5 and don’t need to bring their work home with them.

          So please. Understand before attacking.

          • Well said, Joe! What teacher does ANYONE know who also only works 1 job? I work 3 to pay off my master’s degree, which ironically, the Department of Education has made meaningless. We don’t get the summer’s off!! The summers are when we work our minimum wage jobs!

            I’m up by 5, get to school by 6, leave school by 4pm and then still have 2-3 hours of papers to grade, lesson plans, and emails to answer. Then tutoring on the side, and working part time as a caterer…That’s at least a 15 hour work day, Jill.

            Who do you know that works 15 hour work days and gets paid $25 per hour? If you said teachers, you’re right!

            Oh– forgot to mention– we have to pay for our classroom supplies too. Last year I spent $4,700 to supply my students, my classroom, and to pay for professional development. What were you saying about teachers, Jill? We shouldn’t appreciate them because…..

    • Sure, teachers work “half of the year”… if you include the fact that school isn’t in session on Saturday and Sunday and exclude the fact that most teachers are busy working in the evenings, on weekends, and, yes, during the summer. (All those federal holidays aren’t days off — they’re days they can get work done from home.)

      As for this business of “falling behind:” by what standard are you measuring that? Even among those students who are struggling, is it because of teachers… or perhaps because the U.S. has the highest child poverty rate in the industrialized world…?

    • True, I don’t get it either. Teachers are the hardest working people there are. We put up with students who should have been held back but weren’t because of ridiculous policies. We put up with some irresponsible parents who only show up to school to scream at a teacher who tries to establish some discipline so that he or she can help strugglilng students catch up. We put up with pseudo reformers like this nut, Gates and Rhee. We even put money from our pockets to feed lower income students. We put up with the poor decisions of our administrators at the local, state and federal levels and get blamed for their mess and all we get is one week.

      • Not sure why Jill thinks that American students are behind. But here’s something to think about: As “great” as America seems to be, there are many children born to young people (under 21) who are ill-equipped to prepare them for school or life in general. Parents are on welfare and stay there…for generations. Add to this segregation in housing, schooling and community programs. Add to this, the insane gap between the have and the have nots and their access to a better education. Add to this multiple choice tests-many countries who are ahead require students to write their answers, not merely bubble in a circle. Add to this the amazing cost of building and operating prisons that would be better spend building and operating schools. Just some food for thought!

    • Seriously? You need to read this article, Jill: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/01/opinion/01eggers.html?_r=1

      I have been teaching for over 17 years now. In that time, my husband and I have gotten married, acquired three masters degrees, conceived and raised three children and worked full time. Does your job require you to be a mother/father figure, nurse, psychologist, referee, waitress, chef, recreation director AND fulfill the duties you were hired to? I can answer that….probably NOT! Have you ever gotten a phone call from a parent at 6:00 in the morning wondering if their child has a snow day or not? Have you ever witnessed a child come to you so obviously physically or mentally abused and have to deal with the fact there is NOTHING you can do about it due to a failed Social Services system that has too many hoops to jump through…only to have said family move out of your district JUST as help was on the way…only to have the new school district have to start the process all over again? For goodness sakes, dogs and cats have more rights than some of our children do. Do you take your work home with you to complete during what should be your family time? I could go on and on and on, but I know people like you…no matter what anyone says to you, it will not convince you otherwise. THAT is what is wrong with our schools today…people with the SAME attitude as you. Teachers make all other professions possible, including yours!! Gnaw on that! Thank goodness you are not a teacher!

    • “Our children are falling behind children in other countries in education”

      Were you aware Jill that the US is #1 in the world in the PISA tests if one considers schools with less than 10% poverty? It’s the fact that we have so much poverty in this country that is the problem. Why are we not addressing the real problem?

    • I appreciate your comments and know that since you feel so passionately about this you will go to your nearest school and begin volunteering to support teachers and students next school year. Maybe you can organize a tutoring group or read to students or mentor a high school child with nothing at home giving her hope for her future. They will need caring, passionate, involved people like you greatly.

  12. I call for the resignation of Arne Duncan and the dissolution of the Department of Education. Let’s put education back into the hands of local communities and professional educators. Education is no longer about doing what’s best for children. It’s become about standardized tests and money. It’s time to stop the insanity.

    • The problem with this is that local control leads to local improvements.

      I whole heartedly agree that we need national standards. But these standards should be used as a GUIDE, and not the in-class bible.

      Local control only puts more resources in the hands of the affluent, and less in the hands of the poor.

      What we need is fair and balanced funding. We need someone at the top who is not afraid to, for lack of a stronger phrase, piss people off – but the right people.

      Instead of protecting self-interest, and padding the pockets of friends, whoever is at the top needs to look out for the interests of his/her constituents (novel idea?).

      But, it is a governmental position, so business as usual shouldn’t be a surprise. Can anyone answer the question of how text-books are chosen, and who really decides what our children learn?

      • Textbooks are vetted by state departments of education as to whether or not they meet curriculum standards. Then, local schools/districts get samples of the available options and make a choice to purchase based on criteria they have developed along with curriculum standards.

  13. Mr. Duncan – Thank you for the kind words of seeming respect toward teachers. Sadly, as many note in this comment section, your actions and your words are divided by a grand canyon. The discursive rhetoric used by President Obama’s administration only serve to confuse and soften long term damage to public education. Anyone who follows closely this president’s policy on public education discerns a clear intent to dismantle unions and to ensure profit opportunities for the likes of Eli Broad, Bill Gates, and the Walton family.

  14. Dear Mr. Duncan,

    I would like to believe that your words are honest reflections of your beliefs, however, the previous actions of you and your administration speak much louder than what I’ve just read.

    If you are sincere, then create a fair and equitable evaluation system in which teachers have a real voice in the evaluation of their administrators. Too many administators are neglecting their own duties while working so hard to discredit and distroy the careers of their teachers through the evaluation process. By the way, are you aware of how much corruption there is in the public school system? If you really want to do something to help students and taxpayers, start by “cleaning house” of administrators that continue to support corrupt financial practices in our public schools.

  15. Dear Mr. Duncan.
    No, no, no, no, no. You don’t get to serve platitudes that easily. How about some backbone with that lip service? Do some “Undercover Boss” action. Disguise yourself, and sign up to substitute for one week in an inner-city urban school, one week in an affluent suburb, one week in a rural school, and one week at a school with a high proportion of children of hard-working migrant workers. Then you will truly know how to not only RESPECT the job, and respect the people who choose to do it, you will also SEE the true challenge of one-size-fits-all testing. And for good measure, after those four weeks, sit in on a school board meeting and determine exactly how much those talking head administrators and superintendents are actually listen to you as if they are hearing you. Get your hands dirty, buddy. You know exactly nothing, so far.

  16. I guess teachers aren’t buying what you’re selling, Arne. Time to change course?

  17. Overall, I would call this an inspiring letter. In response to “Inside your classroom, you exercise a high degree of autonomy. You decide when to slow down to make sure all of your students fully understand a concept…”, I would say that in my state, rated highly nationally, teachers are required to cover a crowded curriculum (that’s alliteration) on pace in order for students to score well on quarterly county tests. We don’t have much autonomy. In high poverty, immigrant schools like mine, our lessons are scripted. We’re told to teach, reteach, and teach groups of slower learners. But given a new topic to cover each day or every two days, this is not possible. Needy children need more time to learn, and a curriculum less crowded with topics so that pacing is reasonable.

  18. Mr. Duncan,
    Your words were definitely encouraging, and I thought it was gutsy of you to use the phrase “paint-by-numbers.” All public school teachers with a soul have felt that way. I would love to hear the specifics of your plan.
    I dream of a future in which testing does not determine funding, in which we spend more more on the needs of our people at home (education, healthcare, social services, etc.) than on war, and a world in which NCLB is trashed.
    I hope that one day, having a credential, a masters, and extensive teaching experience will mean I do not have be babysat by paranoid administrators. I hope that I will be trusted to deliver the standards myself without my children being tested by the state. I promise that if I test them myself, I won’t be helping them cheat. And no one would find me reclining, saying lazily to my students, “Well, we’re not going to be tested by the state, so let’s all just do what we want. Hell, let’s turn on the t.v. and have ourselves a time!”

  19. To whom it may concern:
    My vision is education as a “service” to the local community not as a “business” opportunity for investors or as an enterprise to be controlled by “special interests”. Before teachers had the right thru law to “collective bargaining”, the B of ED consisted of elected community members with little or no other agenda except insuring a quality education for out city’s children. In 1966 the superintendent was a former principal from the inner city high school where I am still teaching.
    Currently at this school all of our upper division college prep and AP classes have lost 25% of their class time. The students in these classes are all being left behind, so that we will have a few more students pass the minimal competency exit exam.
    Reading about the new 2011 “down town” administration team, I feel they have a very different vision from mine, and that it will be detrimental to the goal of a quality “education” for all.
    I would like them all to “resign” and be replaced with educational leaders that understand the real difficulties faced by the communities they are pledged to serve.

    Sincerely,
    Teacher-Math
    Fremont HS

  20. Mr. Duncan,
    Since every one of the reforms you support (Merit pay, charter schools, high stakes testing) have been thoroughly discredited as having any positive effects by all current research, it is unclear whether you are ignorant, a dupe, or just dishonest about your actual agenda.

    It is clear to many of us that the real agenda here is to destroy public education, unions, and replace it with a privatized form of schooling, one that does not have to answer to the public, and the does not have to respect the rights of the empolyees.

    We see how such private sector solution have worked for the poor in other sectors, such as health car3 (the US has the worst recored of Health Care for the poor of any democratic industrialized nation).

  21. Dear Mr. Duncan,
    I have been in education for many years, and am now facing the end of my career. I feel that it was a calling on my life. I have thoroughly enjoyed my profession. I feel that it is a noble profession. Everyone has been taught by a teacher! Most of us have been inspired to pursue a career or activity because of a teacher who gave us words encouragement, or took the time to motivate us to learn. Unfortunately, I have seen how education has changed over the years, and in many ways, not for the betterment of our children. The one main area that I see that has changed is that we do not value education in this country. As the scriptures tell us, “where your treasure is, there is where your heart will be”. We worship professional sports, look how overpaid they are. What resources we do have in education we do not spend wisely. You mentioned in your letter about “investing” in education. Where is the true investment? Our whole approach to education needs to change. We should run it like a business trying to make a profit. We should encourage competition, and provide vouchers for families to use to send their children to good schools. This would improve the standard. Until everyone buys in to the fact that education is important for every child, we will continue to fail and lag behind other countries. Teachers are professionals, we have multiple degrees, but rarely are we treated as professionals, and many of us are certainly not paid as professionals! Maybe that is the solution! Pay teachers what they are worth, then the ones who don’t do very well will be weeded out by competition. We have to manage our career, and our classroom, like a highly efficient business. Why don’t we run education in this country the same way. Just my two cents! I have enjoyed my career! I didn’t enter the field of education for the money, and there certainly isn’t much to be made in education. I became a teacher to make a difference! I feel that I have. Many former students tell me how they were personally influenced by my teaching. That is the reward I receive, and it is a great reward indeed!
    Thanks,
    Ron

  22. Interesting…yesterday my comment sat in “Awaiting moderation status” for 1/2 the day, and now it has vanished entirely. It was respectful, I made some good points, didn’t use any inflammatory language and didn’t insult anyone.

    Oh, well…guess it didn’t pass filter. But, if you want the gist of it, feel free to visit: http://socialsmarts.wordpress.com/2011/05/02/an-open-response-to-arne-duncans-open-letter-to-americas-teachers/

    I’d love to be able to have a serious dialog about how we can stop placing blame and start seeking solutions. Our teachers need our help; our kids depend on it. Education doesn’t have to continue to be such a struggle if only we’re willing to look at a slightly different way of solving 40 years worth of problem.

  23. There must be a hundred replies to this letter just on this website page. Why don’t we all write to the White House and suggest a new Secretary of Education?

  24. Mr. Duncan, you apprecitate us so much that you just sold our souls to Gates and Pearson for the common core curriculum work. So much for listening to teachers. What is your cut?

  25. I’m sorry, Arne – your actions speak so loudly, I cannot hear your words.

    Your arrogance is astounding. “Not too long ago, it was acceptable for schools to have high dropout rates, and not all kids were expected to be proficient in every subject.”

    Really? Since when were high drop-out rates acceptable? You and your cronies act like you invented caring about students and the schools they attend.

    I agree with the previous comment. Just. Go.

  26. Secretary Duncan and the rest of the administration have a great plan. It will take well educated teachers to carry out their part of the plan. Dedication and passion is not enough and that’s what most teachers claim to have. These attributes are not enough when understanding and application Educational foundations is marginal.

    A teaching certification is not nearly enough to educate former, present or future generations. The Bachelor degree is helpful, but in today’s Schools of Education the Masters degree is the most beneficial. If you are in our children’s classroom and your degree was earned 25, 20, or even 10 years ago, go back to school because your degree is outdated. Moreover, you were not not properly educated during that time period.

    Teachers, face it. Most of you are not properly prepared to educate the next generation so do something about it. Stop blaming the community, the parents, the children and the govenment. If you don’t know how; learn how. If you become frustrated; ask someone who knows. If you make a mistake; erase and start over. Does any of this sound familiar? In others words, Live Your Creed.

    • You have a lot of nerve. “Most of you were not properly prepared to educate the next generation so do something about it.” What is that supposed to mean? My hunch is that as our system falls further and further into the gutter, there will be ever more scrutiny on the teacher, rather than the student. We now have a generation of college age students, many of them lazy (unmotivated), and entitled, who think it’s the teacher’s job to motivate them and supply them with the grade of their choosing. Many of their parents are just as bad. This would be laughed at in most parts of the world. Why are their so many overweight students running through the halls of our schools? Have the pe teachers not done their jobs, or does it say more about an indulgent society with an increasing array of latchkey kids who eat poorly and spend their free time with their cellphones, ipods and video games?

    • Well my 2nd grader once again has a teacher that is putting more fear in her about math. They are not even graded based on a, b, c, d and f. I have spoke to the teacher all year about my kid’s problems with math skills. So, on the last test that she took, tell me why a teacher would think that putting a big, fat F on it would benefit my kid’s self esteem about math. Then they re-took the best and she got a B. I don’t think she should be using this kind of grading system on anything if they aren’t even graded like that anyway.

      • I am sorry your daughter struggles with math. The teacher has no control over who is put in their classroom. I doubt the teacher is trying to put fear in your child. Frankly, I don’t think you can hold a math teacher accountable for your child’s self esteem. It’s not their job to do so. Research suggests that American kids actually overrate their academic abilities compared to their more advanced neighbors in countries like China and Japan.

        Maybe the system is part of the problem. It is a system that dictates that your kid is held captive in a class that they have not chosen to be in. It makes the teacher a captive, trying to teach a subject that many may not be interested or have a talent for. You love your child and this teacher makes an excellent lightening rod for the frustration that comes from watching them struggle with the material. I made myself available to students everyday after school for extra help. They rarely came. See if this teacher is willing to work with your daughter one on one after school. I think most teachers truly want to see their students succeed. Give them the benefit of the doubt but see if they will “walk the walk,” by suggesting some one on one tutoring. Then you will see how much commitment they have.

        • YES. That’s what I do not understand. Many students are willing to place the blame on teachers when they fail. This is, in my experience, due to hyper-inflated egos and oversized sense of self-worth.

          When presented with the opportunities to work before and after school, these same “perfect” students will never show. The only students that ever show up are the ones that don’t really need any help. OR, the students whose parents actually care.

          Interesting.

    • By the name ELPS I must assume that you are referring to Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. I know this acronym because that is the degree program on my PhD diploma from Loyola. It is my 3rd post-graduate degree (6th total), the first coming in 1987. I also have my National Board Certified Teacher certificate. Many other teachers I know have similar credentials. WE are not properly educated?!?
      The teachers I work with almost all have multiple post-grad degrees in education and are the cutting edge of education, unlike many people associated with Mr. Duncan. WE teach for the 21st century, not the bubble tests of the 20th. No, one of the most significant issues is that the people making the decisions either lack the in-the-trenches classroom experience of a teacher OR the education in educational foundations OR both. Consequently, they make decisions that must be carried out in the classroom that make no sense from either a practical or theoretical perspective. They get their admin degree after 1-2 years in the classroom and start telling teachers how to teach when they, themselves have no idea how to teach.
      My guess is that you have spent little, if any, time in the classroom as a teacher, and that you, possibly, are in a grad degree program for education and now believe you are the sage. Feel free to comment to me directly

    • Your grammar and punctuation:
      “Dedication and passion is not enough and that’s what most teachers claim to have.” Your subject and verb lack agreement, and your compound sentence lacks the necessary punctuation.
      “These attributes are not enough when understanding and application Educational foundations is marginal.” Your subject and verb in your second phrase lack agreement, and your construction lacks the necessary parallel structure.
      “Most of you are not properly prepared to educate the next generation so do something about it.” Your compound sentence lacks the necessary punctuation.
      “If you don’t know how; learn how. If you become frustrated; ask someone who knows.” These two simple sentences are incorrectly punctuated; use a comma, not a semi-colon.
      “If you make a mistake; erase and start over.” Ditto. And my, what good advise for you to follow, sir. Erase those semi-colons, and put in commas!
      My, my, my: sixteen sentences, and seven contain errors if we include your failure to proofread the sentence that reads “…not not…”
      Let’s look at your knowledge of the subject matter; that’s an important part of any persuasive writing, isn’t it?
      “A teaching certification is not nearly enough to educate former, present or future generations.”
      Hmmm. TFA’s don’t even have certification. Did you know that Gates, Duncan, and company are pushing TFA’s heavily?
      “The Bachelor degree is helpful, but in today’s Schools of Education the Masters degree is the most beneficial.”
      Then why are we teachers being told additional education is worthless and not necessary? Again, TFA’s have only a Bachelor’s degree, and they seem to be the second coming.
      “If you are in our children’s classroom and your degree was earned 25, 20, or even 10 years ago, go back to school because your degree is outdated.”
      Again, your view is diametrically opposed to the argument of Arne Duncan that you are supporting. Did you know that?
      Gee; you write poorly, and you have no knowledge of your subject matter. Now who’s not not (sic) properly educated? Please, just put on your dunce cap and sit over there in the corner on the stool.
      By the way, I teach orchestra. How did my language skills grow to such heights? I wrote lots of papers WHILE WORKING ON MY DOCTORATE COURSEWORK.
      Some days it’s like shooting fish in a barrel.

    • Wow elps. Where to start? It would be fun to dissect the first paragraph (that teachers have insufficient understanding of “educational foundations”. Paragraph three would also be fun… what do you imagine teachers doing all day at school if not solving problems, looking for solutions, and preparing? Oh wait, you already said it… they’re just sitting around blaming people. Right.

      The second paragraph is actually the best, and completely illuminates how uninformed your ideas are. There are many, *many* studies available to you that show a complete lack of correlation between student achievement and advanced degree. In English, that means that by gaining a master’s degree, a teacher is not likely to be any better at all.

      Now, virtually every teacher on this board is aware of these statistics. You were not. Does that make you wonder what else you might not know about?

    • Getting a Masters is a great idea. Unfortunately, my state is currently proposing eliminating every line on the salary scale above BA + 45. Seems to be a bit of a mixed message, doesn’t it?

  27. PLEASE visit EdWeek for the comments there:

    http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2011/05/02/30duncan.h30.html

    Mine, originally posted at EdWeek:

    “Not too long ago, it was acceptable for schools to have high dropout rates, and not all kids were expected to be proficient in every subject. In today’s economy, there is no acceptable dropout rate, and we rightly expect all children—English-language learners, students with disabilities, and children of poverty—to learn and succeed.”

    Few comments are more offensive or more inaccurate. . .

    There is NO point in the last 120 YEARS that leaders and educators have not been lamenting graduation rates. Duncan has no experience as an educator and lacks the full and nuanced expertise of the FIELD and history of education to be making decisions about US public education.

    As one example, see this:

    “Only four out of ten U.S. children finish high school, only one out of five who finish high school goes to college.”

    From 1947! in TIME: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,934231,00.html

    Duncan, Gates, Canada, and Rhee suffer the arrogance that they woke up for the first time in history and give a d*** about children and learning. . .yet the evidence is that millions of educators have cared and actually WORKED in education throughout the US for decades despite such political arrogance and ineptitude.

    Few commentaries could be more disrespectful to the field of teaching than this one claiming to honor educators this week. . .

  28. Excuse me, Mr. Duncan, I certainly want to make a difference in children’s lives, but I also work so I can support my family financially. And I’ll be damned if I’ll volunteer away my family time, spend thousands of my family’s dollars, or allow myself to be driven like a rented mule because lawmakers won’t fund their educational mandates, won’t ask teachers for input on educational programs, and refuse to hire enough personnel or provide materials to carry out either one.

    • BRAVA, Anne!! DITTO! I too, am not a missionary. My husband and I are both teachers. We haven’t had a pay raise in 5 years, and we work 3 jobs a piece to pay back our Master’s Degree loans from our ivy league universities. These degree, ironically, are deemed worthless and “insignificant” by the institution of public education and my current school district. It’s great to feel stupid for becoming so smart.

      Summer jobs at the local supermarket!! My alma mater must feel so proud!!

    • Exactly! I did not go into this profession to become wealthy, but when people gripe about not spending even more time (above the average 50-60 hours a week I already put in), I get mad. I happen to be a parent, too. I practice what I preach to my students’ parents and spend time reading with my children and making sure their education is on track.

      I am a professional, and I refuse to be abused!

  29. I’ll just stick with the first statement and the last. First, you say you have worked in education much of your life. I notice that you specifically don’t say you taught. In fact, your background has always been either commenting on what others do, or telling others what to do. You have never been responsible for students and their education. So when you put forth false platitudes regarding your belief about the importance of education, it does not compliment those of us who actually do the work. It is actually an insult.
    In the last paragraph you talk about recruiting teachers. You have started with a false premise. Look at the actual numbers. There is no shortage of certified teachers. Districts around America are laying off teachers who are not only qualified, but wanting to teach. There are also numerous others who are qualified, but left the profession for numerous reasons. Someone who actually understands the condition of public education in America presently would focus on retaining quality teachers, not on recruitment. But then, neither you nor the president (whom I strongly supported and campaigned for) understand education.
    Your words are those of a person who has never done anything but network and market himself. If you actually did respect teaching as a profession and think it was important, you would have actually tried it. But you didn’t. And that is the message that American teachers hear loud and clear.

  30. Education is not a race. It is a right. It belongs to the people and it must stay with the people. Until we start addressing issues of poverty, your data will continue to show that our schools are failing and deserving of takeover from the private sector, unless, of course, we change the tests.

    When you were appointed U.S. secretary of education, President Obama boasted about your record of raising test scores in Chicago, but since then it has been shown that these dramatic gains can be attributed to changes in the test and testing procedures, rather than genuine student improvement.

    Your gains as superintendent of Chicago schools were illusory, much like your qualifications to hold your current position as secretary of education.

    I’m going to stop writing, because I have to wake up tomorrow morning and teach kids, but know this Mr. Duncan: We will not allow you to steal public education from the people and hand it over to the wolves of Wall Street. We will not allow you to replace professional teachers with a revolving door of low-wage workers who drill our children with lock-step curriculum created by Pearson. Next time, when teacher appreciation week comes around, try something a little less insulting. An apple, perhaps?

  31. Gosh… I guess the speech was too big to put on the side of the mug I get every year.

  32. While I appreciate Mr. Duncan’s long letter about how great and dedicated teachers are and how much he and others appreciate them…..I smell,” we are going to evaluate you on how well your students are doing on achievement tests and of course we want input from you…..That is absolutely great if I have children from affluent homes, or the AP students…but how about those teachers who teach year after year in a 98% poverty school. How about paying them more for the extra time they invest every day, on weekends, and throughout the summer to help those students “catch up” because they don’t have the books, nor educated parents at home to help them make great test scores! My question is this, will all this “pie in the sky” happen before or after reauthorization? no more bubble tests, measure creativity? … Give me a break Mr. Duncan.. how about telling us exactly how you are planning on adding more accountability and lots more unfunded mandates!

  33. Our experience as senior staff included bullying from principals and upper administration, interference with and elimination of “best practices” that we used successfully in favor of teaching what the poorest teacher (and member of the principal’s mob) could teach, failure to acknowledge our students’ successes in spite of the interference from the principal, public threats by the district superintendent for older teachers who should “think about doing something else” without EVER setting a foot into a classroom. NCLB and Race to the Top are window dressing. Lipservice to the nation’s teachers is insulting to those of us who go to work everyday under threat of bullying because administrators have no clue as to what “good teaching” looks like and couldn’t correct “poor teaching” if it bit them in the privates. Bullying and pushing people around is NOT management; it is psychological abuse and everybody in the system-teachers, front office workers, custodians, counselors, principals, students, and parents-need to understand what’s being done to the system and how it is being destroyed.

  34. Do you really want to relate to teachers? Then recognize that the “product” of Public Education is students that know How To Learn and use that knowledge to Think Critically to solve authentic problems. The product of Public Education is not multiple choice test scores.

    Your letter places students Fourth in the order of responsibility for educational quality, behind parents, community, administrators and teachers (who, of course, remain First). That doesn’t give me a lot of hope, as the other comments have suggested, that your actions will match your words!

    Are you really serious about “Professional” evaluation of teachers? Or is your letter as disingenuous as it seems?

  35. Sorry Arnie –

    You already showed your true colors. You and your President have lost my once ardent support. I am a jilted lover who now only longs for your replacement.

    • I was so joyful for the election of President Obama that I cried, danced, sang out, laughed, and pinched myself over and over to see if I was dreaming. I read two of his books and had no doubt that we had finally gotten a truly thoughtful President. The only way that I will be able to vote for him again is if he replaces you, Mr. Duncan. You have no understanding of how Federal mandates are warped by reality once they are implemented.

  36. You’re listening, Arne? Really?

    Then quit. You’re unqualified. You should never have been placed in charge of a school, let alone the nation’s schools. You’re out of your depth, and you always have been. A bit of lip service, after all the damage you’ve caused in Chicago and to the nation’s educational system as a whole, comes off more like adding insult to injury than it does as an attempt at reconciliation.

    Just go. And if you really want to do some good, tell Obama to replace you with somebody who knows something about education. Bonus points if they’re bright enough to realize when what’s being tried is failing horribly. Diane Ravitch, maybe.

  37. How will parents and students be held accountable? Do you have a real plan in mind or just more ways to punish schools, teachers, and administrators?

    • My idea of how to help future parents help[ their children is to introduce a semester course in every school in the nation at the 7th and 12th grade levels to train them in the rudiments of parenting, such as love respect, humility and compassion. If they have these, they will be ready to learn and NO, advance teaching .degrees won’t do it. The larger problem is how to keep parents in the home to do the parenting.

  38. Empty words from the man who applauds the mass firing of teachers, closing schools and replacing them with corporate “non-profit” charters, fueled the mantra of failing schools and bad teachers, and labeled the real professionals who disagree with you as the status quo – even though they are well versed and researched in policy and the flim flam you espouse as reform. More testing with “better” tests will not improve the lives of students, only enrich Pearson and Gates and all others who have obviously bought you. Shame on you Mr. Duncan.

  39. You still don’t get it Mr. Duncan!
    It is futile to require teachers to display high levels of expertise, and accountability while students and parents bear absolutely no burden in their/ and their children’s academic success.
    Einstein can show up as teacher for the day, and if the students are not respectful and disciplined enough to learn, it won’t mean a hill of beans!
    The responsibility should be shared. If you truly hear us, you’ll recognize the fact that we are not opposed to honing our craft in ways that foster student learning for all students. We accept and concur that effective teachers blah, blah, blah… What’s not being acknowledged is that parents and students are not required to be a part of the equation. Teachers are asking and pleading for SHARED RESPONSIBILTY between administration, parents, students and teachers. We are tired of being the scapegoat when explaining why children fail, and being overlooked when they succeed.
    School Districts around the nation have lost sight of their mission. We are not a one stop social services entity that can fulfill the social needs of every student/family. However, there are agencies that do.
    I got into teaching because I wanted to TEACH children about the wonders of reading, math, science and writing, NOT redirect gross misbehaviors on a daily rate that would boggle the mind of, and shock parents and teacher bashers alike!

  40. His letter to teachers demonstrates that he believes teachers are so “street stupid” (as opposed to street smart) that he can say what they want to hear and they will believe he means it. The good thing is that if teachers as a group are “street stupid,” (which I believe is kind of true because being street smart usually connects with materialism rather than caring about others) they are beginning to find their street wings based on these responses.

    If there were any respect for the profession, there is no way business people would become leaders of a system for which they had little to no professional knowledge. It is hard to know if Duncan was chosen out of frustration, thus ignorance about what is going on in education that has led to applying a last resort business model, or with intention. If Duncan would take the time to read White Chalk Crime: The REAL Reason Schools Fail, he would know exactly what to do. He would know that decisions, including abusive testing, are all a part of an organized system that ensures money and power for those in the elite. He would learn about how the brightest and best teachers are regularly cleansed from the system. Let’s see if he has the guts to read that book. He can go to EndTeacherAbuse.org and we will send him a free copy.

  41. I was at the NEA-RA in San Diego when you told us that those teachers with National Board Certification would receive extra pay from the government; that this would be what you meant by merit pay. I’m still waiting…

  42. This focus on testing is out of control. NCLB is a disaster, I hope that some positive changes can come out of it being revised or dismantled.

  43. Well, thank you for all the rhetoric, Arne, I really appreciate it, and I’m sure you are being just so sincere. Unfortunately your actions really speak much louder and more sincerely than you do. I was in Chicago teaching while you were Superintendent and fiddling as Rome burned. I have watched you as you have become the President’s basketball buddy of choice. I have seen what your “ideas in education” (and I use the word ideas very, very loosely) have done on the city level and country level. I am not impressed. Perhaps if you listened to teachers, parents and students you might be a bit more effective. Just a suggestion. Nothing seems to be changing for the better for us in the trenches but administrators seem to be doing fine. I’m sure they are most happy to have you. Thanks…for nothing.

  44. Nice words, but it’s my union that makes sure I’m treated fairly. Why are we messing with the salary schedule? Why is my union slandered when it’s the stablizing force in education? Every profession has its stronger or weaker practitioners. Even if the least effective teachers were somehow identified and removed from public schools, the remaining teachers still don’t have nearly enough planning time to implement high-quality instruction. There’s still no way to remove students who disrupt education in our toughest schools. No one is talking about these factors, and until they’re addressed RTTT is just money wasted. If you want to reward our best teachers, support our unions and give us the resources to do our job more effectively. That’s the reward we work so hard for. Stop those who would impoverish us and our schools and address the real problems we face. Then I would indeed feel honored and appreciated.

    Thanks!

  45. Here in California where are you standing up for teachers who are being made the vilians of our budget: Where is the support to our retiring teachers when people want to take their retirement because superintendants get paid alot. Where are you to stand up for CTE programs which actually help kids stay in school?
    I guess you are in Washington changing only the name of NCLB , letting senior teachers take it on the chin, while you dismantle Carl Perkins funding.

  46. This is more patronizing, feel good rhetoric, with lots of veiled insults. Duncan does not hear us, he does not respect us, he does not value us.

  47. Arne,

    I want to share with you a moving video created to remind us that teachers inspire greatness in all of us. I hope you take the time to watch this moving video and share it with teachers. It is my goal to share this wonderful tribute to as many teachers around the nation as I can.

    http://www.mudpiesandbutterflies.com/thankateacher

    Thanks!

  48. Sorry, Arne. I think this is just lipservice.

    Actions. I’ve heard all the words. Now I want action.

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