Many people are upset about federally imposed “education reforms” that leave teachers and parents out of decision making. There’s now a nationwide “Dump Duncan” movement that’s petitioning President Obama to fire the Secretary of Education.
Dump Duncan was started by two grandfathers, one in Washington State and one in New York, who are upset about what is happening to the public schools of the nation. Those who have signed the Letter to Obama include parents, teachers, college professors, and other citizens.
The petition asks the President for: a Secretary of Education who is a lifetime educator; a meaningful voice for teachers, parents and administrators in Dept. of Education decision making that affect them; an end to the compelling of municipalities to use student test data as a basis for evaluating teachers, and more.
“Dump Duncan” has a Facebook page, a “Dump Duncan” website and a petition at http://dumpduncan.org/ . It even put on an “Occupy the Department of Education” event this year.
There’s a collection of teacher-written poetry on the “Dump Duncan” poetry contest page, and a lot of creative graphics uploaded by various petition signers. So far, there are about 6,000 Dump Duncan petition signers. This is what the full petition requests:
Dear President Obama,
We, the undersigned, a cross section of the nation’s teachers and their supporters, wish to express our extreme displeasure with the policies implemented during your administration by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Although many of us campaigned enthusiastically for you in 2008, it is unlikely that you will receive continued support unless the following three dimensions of your administration’s education initiatives are changed:
- The exclusion of teachers from policy discussions in the US Department of Education and from Education Summits called under your leadership.
- The use of rhetoric which blames failing schools on “bad teachers” rather than poverty and neighborhood distress.
- The use of federal funds to compel states and municipalities to use student test scores in the evaluation of teachers and as the basis for closing low performing schools.
Because of these policies, teachers throughout the nation have become discouraged and demoralized, undermining your own stated goals of improving teacher quality, upgrading the nation’s educational performance, and encouraging creative pedagogy rather than “teaching to the test.”
We therefore submit the following measures to put your administration’s education policy back on the right track and to bring teachers in as full partners in this effort:
- The removal of Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education and his replacement by a lifetime educator who has the confidence of the nation’s teachers.
- The incorporation of parents, teachers, and school administrators in all policy discussion taking place in your administration, inside and outside the Department of Education.
- An immediate end to the use of incentives or penalties to compel states and municipalities to use student test scores as a basis for evaluating teachers, preferring charter schools to existing public schools, and requiring closure of low performing schools.
- Create a National Commission, in which teachers and parent representatives play a primary role, which explores how to best improve the quality of America’s schools.
We believe such policies will create an outpouring of good will on the part of teachers, parents and students which will promote creative teaching and educational innovation, leading to far greater improvements in the nation’s schools than policies which encourage a proliferation of student testing could ever hope to do.