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Early Look at Duncan’s NEA Speech

By Michele McNeil — July 02, 2009 1 min read

In his fourth and final speech on the education reform “assurances” that are featured in the economic stimulus package, Education Secretary Arne Duncan walked into the NEA convention in San Diego today and called for merit pay for teachers.

It’s reminiscent of the National Education Association’s big summer confab last year, when Barack Obama was just a presidential candidate, getting booed by some delegates for mentioning performance pay.

My colleague Stephen Sawchuk, who is in San Diego, will have much more on this speech (including whether Duncan gets booed) over at the Teacher Beat.

According to prepared remarks, Mr. Duncan took on some of the prized benefits of being a teacher: tenure, the salary schedule, and union protection.

On tenure:

“When an ineffective teacher gets a chance to improve and doesn’t—and when the tenure system keeps that teacher in the classroom anyway—then the system is protecting jobs rather than children. That’s not a good thing. We need to work together to change that.”

On teacher evaluations:

”...to remove student achievement entirely from evaluation is illogical and indefensible.”

On teacher pay:

“We’re asking Congress for more money to develop compensation programs ‘with’ you—and ‘for’ you—not ‘to’ you—programs that will put money in the pockets of your teachers and support personnel by recognizing and rewarding excellence.”

Duncan also emphasized the importance of improving the quality of school and district leadership, calling on those leaders to accept the same new education-reform demands as teachers.

And if you need a refresher on Duncan’s previous speeches on the assurances, read about his standards speech here, data here, and low-performing and charter schools here.

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