Opinion
Education Letter to the Editor

Duncan Plan Represents ‘Bully-Driven Reform’

January 26, 2010 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

“Questions for Secretary Duncan,” the letter to the editor from teacher-educators at Teachers College, Columbia University, in your Jan. 6, 2010, issue, is a timely opening to an overdue dialogue.

Much of U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s hard sell to reshape education nationwide needs to be questioned by various segments of the education community. As it stands now, the burden falls primarily on affiliates of the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers. Their concerns too often are dismissed as selfish union interests or defense of the status quo.

Education research organizations need to be speaking out on what works and what doesn’t. Testing and assessment experts should be addressing the misuse of standardized testing. All education interests should be alarmed over the top-down, hardball tactics being used to enact questionable fixes.

Here in Tennessee, Gov. Phil Bredesen called a special session of the legislature to mandate how test data will be used to rate teachers. He insisted that this action was needed to make the state competitive for the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top money. Last summer, dangling the same carrot, Mr. Duncan pressured reluctant Democratic lawmakers to go along with a Republican plan to expand charter schools in the state.

This bully-driven reform is designed to show up the weakest schools and the weakest teachers (based on the lowest test scores), and to take punitive action against them. It offers little or nothing to assess and address the underlying structural, economic, and social factors that impede schools and teachers from excelling with their most disadvantaged students.

If educators’ frustrations and seething resentment in this state become widespread, the Obama administration will lose the confidence of the professionals needed to make any reform work. They are particularly disturbed with Secretary Duncan’s use of federal economic-stimulus money to bribe states into carrying out his agenda, much of which will do more to sink vulnerable schools than to lift them up.

Gene Bryant

Nashville, Tenn.

A version of this article appeared in the January 27, 2010 edition of Education Week as Duncan Plan Represents ‘Bully-Driven Reform’

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Data Webinar
Education Insights with Actionable Data to Create More Personalized Engagement
The world has changed during this time of pandemic learning, and there is a new challenge faced in education regarding how we effectively utilize the data now available to educators and leaders. In this session
Content provided by Microsoft
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Accelerate Learning with Project-Based Learning
Earlier this year, the George Lucas Educational Foundation released four new studies highlighting how project-based learning (PBL) helps accelerate student learning—across age groups, multiple disciplines, and different socio-economic statuses. With this year’s emphasis on unfinished
Content provided by SmartLab Learning
School & District Management Live Online Discussion Principal Overload: How to Manage Anxiety, Stress, and Tough Decisions
According to recent surveys, more than 40 percent of principals are considering leaving their jobs. With the pandemic, running a school building has become even more complicated, and principals' workloads continue to grow. If we

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education California Makes Ethnic Studies a High School Requirement
California is among the first in the nation to require students to take a course in ethnic studies to get a diploma starting in 2029-30.
4 min read
FILE - In this Jan. 22, 2020, file photo, Democratic Assembly members, from left, James Ramos, Chris Holden Jose Medina, and Rudy Salas, Jr., right, huddle during an Assembly session in Sacramento, Calif. Medina's bill to make ethnic studies a high school requirement was signed into law by California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday, Oct. 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
Education California Requires Free Menstrual Products in Public Schools
The move comes as women’s rights advocates push nationwide for affordable access to pads, tampons, and other items.
1 min read
Tammy Compton restocks tampons at Compton's Market, in Sacramento, Calif., on June 22, 2016. California public schools and colleges must stock their restrooms with free menstrual products under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, Friday, Oct. 8, 2021.
Tammy Compton restocks tampons at Compton's Market, in Sacramento, Calif., on June 22, 2016. California public schools and colleges must stock their restrooms with free menstrual products under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, Friday, Oct. 8, 2021.
Rich Pedroncelli/AP
Education Florida to Dock School District Salaries for Requiring Masks
Florida is set to dock salaries and withhold funding from local school districts that defied Gov. Ron DeSantis' ban on mask mandates.
2 min read
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, at the Doral Academy Preparatory School in Doral, Fla.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, at the Doral Academy Preparatory School in Doral, Fla.
Wilfredo Lee/AP
Education More Than 120,000 U.S. Kids Had Caregivers Die During Pandemic
The toll has been far greater among Black and Hispanic Americans, a new study suggests.
3 min read
FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021 file photo, a funeral director arranges flowers on a casket before a service in Tampa, Fla. According to a study published Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021, by the medical journal Pediatrics, the number of U.S. children orphaned during the COVID-19 pandemic may be larger than previously estimated, and the toll has been far greater among Black and Hispanic Americans. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)