Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Who's buying Duncan's new NCLB?

"Revolutionizing" education

Arne Duncan has already sold his rewrite of No Child Left Behind to the neocons (yes they are still with us) and to the conservative forces within the Democratic Party. Or should I say--THEY have already sold it to Duncan. Now he is trying hard to sell it to teachers and their unions. But so far, they aren't buying. Duncan claims his blueprint will "revolutionize education."

But leaving his usual hyperbole aside for a moment, "better tests" doesn't speak to the real problem of misuse of testing, as a way to punish schools and individual teachers, rather than as an analytic tool connected to classroom teaching. As to mislabeling thousands of schools as "failures," this has all along been Duncan's favorite tactic to promote widespread school-closing and turnaround strategies in underserved communities.

Duncan continues to label thousands of schools as "dropout factories" and to call for the closing of (depending on his audience) 1,000 to 5,000 schools and mass firings of teachers. If you want to see what Duncan's rewrite of ESEA is all about, just look at Central Falls, R.I. where Duncan openly supported (called it "courageous') and probably helped engineer the firing of the entire faculty and staff of the local high school, without regard for the quality of the teachers or the positive improvements currently taking place at the school.

And it's hard to believe that "opportunites for professional growth" crap when 21,000 teachers are being fired in California and 17,000 in Illinois.

Finally, Duncan's so-called blueprint is designed to replace contractual agreements negotiated between teachers and school districts with federally-mandated turnaround policies, most of which have no research to back them up. This would all but eliminate to role of unions and teachers rights to collectively bargain the contracts under which they work. It would make it that much easier to replace experienced teachers with lower-paid, non-union TFA cadets and privatize the management of public schooling.

Teachers are smart to look at this latest version of NCLB with a critical eye.


  1. Unfortunately, the leadership of the two teachers unions is buying it. Like Esau in the Bible, they are selling their birthright for stew. This could mark the end of negotiated contracts for American teachers.

  2. Too bad that Chad is absolutely right. The Illinois Education Association has not only bought into Race to the Top, they are its primary salesmen. Including the requirements to remove teacher evaluation procedures from the arena of collective bargaining. In Illinois individual teacher evaluations based on individual student performance is now mandatory. It is illegal to take a job action over it. Whatever Arne wants from our union, Arne gets.


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