Secretary of Education tells teachers things they didn’t know

Across America (TWP)

Arne Duncan, secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, recently said, “It is a fundamental, unalterable belief that every child can learn, and a fundamental understanding of the tremendous urgency of our work.”

Shaking with disbelief, Sacramento High School music teacher Sandra Estep said, “Wow. I never thought about what I do in that way. I am so ready to change the way I teach now that I know how fundamentally urgent it is in a fundamental way.”

Duncan and other education experts have recently revealed their plans for education reforms, reforms that have never occurred to teachers, such as ones Duncan noted: “Excellence in teaching, good professional development, schools open longer hours, and a shared responsibility for student success.”

“I’m such a slacker, only spending 9 hours every day here at the school planning and grading for my 148 students, “ said Penelope Rodriguez, 5th grade teacher at La Paz Elementary in Santa Fe. “I have never thought to have the schools open more hours. I mean, when I leave at 5:30 every afternoon, Ms Rouse and Mr. Turner are still here. Mrs. McCoy stays til 8:00 most nights. I’m just amazed we never thought of this.”

Teachers reporting from the faculty lounge during their 20 minute lunch at Blackwell Middle School in Beaufort, Washington, pointed out Duncan’s remark, “Now often we try replacing the leadership, and sometimes that works. We need to invest much more in principal leadership. “

“I’ve just had an epiphany,” science teacher Rodney Lipton exclaimed. “Wow, we need to train principals to be better leaders. Wow. I always wondered why we had no communication in this building, no adherence to rules, no consistent policies or a schedule. Wow. It’s a whole new world for me now.”

“I don’t know,” said Carlotta Singleton, 7th grade language arts, “We’re used to not knowing what the building plan is or why students come and go from our classes and learning what we’ll be teaching or not teaching the day, sometimes, the hour, before it happens. Not sure I’m ready for a change, you know.”

At Dayton, Ohio’s Success Academy Charter School, honors English instructor Louise Ritter was particularly impressed with Duncan’s parallel structure in what she called a “jaw-dropping statement”” “When great teachers are unrecognized and unrewarded, when struggling teachers are unsupported, and when failing teachers are unaddressed the teaching profession is damaged.”

“To think that I’ve been teaching for 28 years and never realized what it was that damaged the teaching profession. To be a Teacher of the Year four different times and not realize this is astounding.”

Ritter also added, “When great administrators don’t appear, when clueless ones refuse to listen to teachers, and when crappy ones continue to spread their crap with abandon, the schools are fucked.”


(All Duncan quotes from Partners in Reform)




Filed under Teaching Whore Press

6 responses to “Secretary of Education tells teachers things they didn’t know

  1. Vantage Point Productions

    They had a big write-up about Arne Duncan in this week’s issue of Newsweek. Maybe that is what inspired your article.

    Anyway, the article shows its bias right off the bat with the headline. What no one seems to get is it is all this “fixing” that has jacked everything up in the first place. If we want our students to perform well on a test so we can wave it in other countries’ faces and say, “See how smart are students are,” then Arne is on the right track, I guess. I want more than that.

    Fareed Zakaria said Indians are great at taking the test. As he said in one of his books when discussing the difference between the educational system in his home country of India and America: “In India, they teach you to learn. In America, they teach you to think.”

    I much prefer the latter. For some reason, the powers that be want the former. What are they thinking? I discussed Zakaria’s comment with my seventh and eighth graders. They got it. They understood.

    I said, “People are going to tell you how awful the American educational system is. You’re are going to hear how the schools are failing you. You are going to hear how you are not performing as well as students from other countries. It is all a lie. Are there problems with the system? Are there areas where work is needed? Of course. But, is the system truly broken — no.”

    When I asked about Zakaria’s statement and said what is the difference between being taught to “learn” and being taught to “think,” one of my students said that you can teach a dog to “learn” but not to “think.” While meaning no disrespect to Indians, that boy was exactly right.

    Great article. Sorry I got on a rant. I am starting to get so angry.

    John VanPelt
    Proud Teacher

    • Jats

      Since you know the education system in India is having challenges, I need your help to knwo if there are any courses or workshops available which we can take to the schools in India and help teahers tothink differently.

      Jats–I wish you luck with the issues in India–I’m really not aware of what they are. Here in the U.S., our problem is more of getting administrators and state/national officials to listen to what we (teachers) are saying. –TW

  2. Gilda

    Let’s see now–we start with a curriculum that is shoddy, impossible to understand and that no teacher has had a hand in developing. Then we add the layers of standards–local, state and national-none of them overlapping in any way–throw in 186 GLE’s (those would be the grade level expectations students are “accountable” for mastering in any given grade. Finish off with disrict and
    state curriculim maps and pacing charts–again untouched by teacher hands–and yep, we’re screwed from the get-go. Please notice the complete and utter lack of any teacher involvement at any step along the way. Uh-oh! I just realized that I left out all the testing and THE DATA–I better go run and hide, or surely I will be fired tomorrow……..

  3. The Secretary of Education’s comments are rather odd — teachers as leaders? With NCLB and other legislation, teachers have taken on the role of robots — NO THINKING ALLOWED! “Teach” in lockstep with every other “teacher” in the county, state, country. School administrators prescribe every moment in the classroom, telling “teachers” what to say, do, and think. Follow the “data” or die!

  4. scifilady

    WoW! This is such a revalation! Imagine….teacher as leaders & actually recognizizing the FUNDAMENTAL importance of supporting teachers! What a novel idea!
    Acutally, Ritter’s last quote said it all!!

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