Teachers are increasingly ready to fight back against the sustained assault they face. On Friday, delegates at the National Education Association’s Representative Assembly passed a resolution calling on Education Secretary Arne Duncan to resign:The business item passed said it was necessary to call for Duncan’s resignation because of the “department’s failed education agenda focused on more high-stakes testing, grading and pitting public school students against each other based on test scores, and for continuing to promote policies and decisions that undermine public schools and colleges, the teaching education professionals, and education unions.”Really, resignation is too good for Duncan, but it would be a start.
Similar measures failed in past years, but clearly anger is growing, with Duncan earning the ire of teachers and other supporters of public education by his recent support for attacks on due process, in addition to his longstanding crusade for high-stakes testing. This may be an area where the NEA’s members are out in front of its leadership; the union’s outgoing president, Dennis Van Roekel, downplayed the business item to reporters, and the stream of press releases from the Representative Assembly does not appear to include one on this rather newsworthy item.
The NEA is, however, trumpeting another measure combating the drive for corporate education reform, taking aim at “toxic testing”:The measure approves the use of NEA resources to launch a national campaign to end the high stakes use of standardized tests, to sharply reduce the amount of student and instructional time consumed by tests, and to implement more effective forms of assessment and accountability. The impact of excessive testing is particularly harmful to many poor, minority, and special needs students.The NEA also elected a new president, Lily Eskelsen Garcia, who told the delegates “We know what is at stake and it is why we are who we are. It is why we are fearless and why we will not be silent when people who for their own profit and political posture subvert words like ‘reform’ or ‘accountability.’”
“The sad truth is that test-based accountability has not closed the opportunity gaps between affluent and poor schools and students,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “It has not driven funding and support to the students from historically underfunded communities who need it most. Poverty and social inequities have far too long stood in the way of progress for all students.”… at a White House press briefing Monday, during which Duncan outlined a plan to ensure all students have access to highly effective teachers, Duncan said he was “trying to stay out of local union politics.”
“We’ve had a very good working relationship with NEA in the past,” he said and congratulated President-elect Lily Eskelsen García on her win.
Arne Duncan should resign.
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