Teaching Profession

Diverse Reax to Duncan Speech

By Stephen Sawchuk — July 03, 2009 1 min read
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A few more thoughts after reviewing my notes and videos of Duncan’s speech yesterday.

Although there were hisses at Duncan’s statement that evaluation policies may need some tweaking, there was some scattered applause, too. Same story with Duncan’s statement that it’s “illogical and indefensible” not to include student achievement as part of compensation, evaluation, and tenure decisions. Both examples come as a good reminder that externally, the NEA may speak with one voice on these issues, but internally there are plenty of different opinions.

A good number of teachers, it seems, agree that there can be fair ways to consider student achievement in human-capital decisions. An Education Sector report came to a similar conclusion last year, finding that younger teachers were generally more open to pay reform than their peers but still strongly valued their unions.

(Also take a look at the comments to my last item; several folks pointed out their own thoughts on how teachers can be part of the reform process.)

There was almost no reaction when Duncan said that much of the coursework teachers take to get “lane” increases aren’t correlated with teacher effectiveness. That surprised me for personal reasons more than anything else: I got a bunch of e-mails from irritated teachers when I wrote a story that dealt tangentially with that issue.

Andy Rotherham and Mike Antonucci, on their respective blogs, both noted the loudest protests were actually in response to Duncan’s plugs for the Green Dot charter schools and mayoral control of school districts. (I’m assuming the negative reaction isn’t just due to the relatively large sizes of the New York and California delegations.)

It looks like teachers are still suspicious of Green Dot, despite founder Steve Barr’s apparent commitment to working with unionized teaching forces, and still not enamored with N.Y.C.'s Joel Klein.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.