the blog of Carol Burris

Let’s Enlighten Arne Duncan

Arne Duncan does not think we care about making sure that low achievers get great teachers.  This is what he said in an interview in The New York Times…

“We have 15,000 school districts in this country.  Those should be laboratories for innovation and creativity. We don’t have one school district that I’m aware of in this country, not one out of 15,000, that systematically identifies their highest-performing teachers and principals who get the best results for the kids and puts them with the kids in the communities that need the most help.

What generally happens is exactly the opposite. The kids in the communities who need the most help get the least”.

I know that is wrong in my school and district. Not only are we innovative and creative, I make sure that struggling kids get great teachers. I think we need to let Arne Duncan know he is wrong. In the comments section, write what you do in your school to make sure your struggling students have great teachers. Be specific, add your name and your school’s name and city/town. Write it in the comment below.  I will turn the comments into a blog for the Answersheet.

Arne needs to be enlightened.

3 Responses to “Let’s Enlighten Arne Duncan”

  1. bgfay

    I work in alternative ed (by choice) and serve in a program that is the last stop for many kids before jail or dropping out. Our students are on the edge in every way. I do everything I can to help them learn to like (if not love) to write and read for themselves. They choose the books that they read, they choose what they are going to write about, and we spend an enormous amount of time and a tremendous number of words on their experience so that they begin to be aware of who they are in the world, who they have been and who they might be.

    These students do not typically score well on standardized tests and often tear them to pieces rather than take them. Further, successful students transition out of our program. Because of these two factors and the fact that I was assessed on only four students’ testing, I am now considered by New York State and my school system to be an INEFFECTIVE teacher. One more year of that rating and my tenure can be revoked.

    Secretary Duncan, I am a very good teacher and your evaluation system is the reason I am doing everything in my power to insure that I will not be a public school teacher next year.

  2. Jaime Pipher

    I work for Auburn High School in Auburn, NY. My certification is Math 7-12.
    I scored in the “highly effective” range of our new APPR system in the 2012-2013 school year. I have such a good track record with students that I was asked to teach AP Calculus this year. That would be the the top 10% of the senior class.
    However, the majority of my students are the WEAKEST 10th grade students in the district. They are taking the Algebra material spread out over two years, sometimes repeating for the third time. The students in those classes are socio-economically challenged and often our low-scoring students of color. One section consists of 50% special education students. I take offense to the fact that Mr. Duncan is implying that I must be a weak teacher because I am given students of weak ability. My principal will attest to the fact that he keeps me there because I am successful with those students.
    There are numerous similar stories in my building. The teacher that teaches Enriched Algebra 2/Trig also teaches a section of the weakest 9th graders in the building. A pre-calculus teacher is teaching a computer programming course for students that are not strong in math to be able to get their 3rd math credit. The NYS Technology Teacher of the Year is teaching a technology course designed for students that need to look outside the Math Department for a 3rd course credit. The list goes on and on!

  3. ward8teacher

    My fellow educator, reform is not rocket science! It should not take a genius to understand that a smaller class size, especially at the middle and high school level, IS the most effective setting to ensure student achievement. Why do you think private charter schools and public charters schools operate with smaller class sizes? Why should they be the only teachers that are provided with the opportunity to work in a highly effective classroom setting? Why should they be given the golden ticket, while we – public school teachers – are left begging for the same opportunity? If you truly care about student achievement, then you cannot defend public school closure and consolidation policies. Creating larger class sizes is the wrong approach, and creates a recipe for disaster.


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