U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan today presented the Obama Administration’s priorities for changing our nation’s leading education policy for elementary and secondary education (ESEA).
MEA-MFT’s two national affiliates, the National Education Association (NEA) and American Federation of Teachers (AFT) do not support the Administration’s blueprint because it is based on the same flawed logic of No Child Left Behind—determining winners and losers based on test scores.
NEA President Dennis Van Roekel stated: “If we’re serious about creating a stronger foundation for America’s public schools, it’s important to get the blueprint right before it becomes policy.”
NEA and AFT members would like nothing more than to see No Child Left Behind (NCLB) left behind. “For nearly a decade this legislation has punished students and entire communities with do-or-die, high-stakes testing,” Van Roekel said.
“Achieving a world-class education that prepares children for college and career means that we’re going to have to radically change the way we think about public education—our kids have got to be more than a test score,” he continued.
“This is exactly why we cannot support the blueprint as it’s currently being presented to Congress. It simply does not go far enough to help all students succeed. It’s still based on high-stakes, low-quality standardized tests where some kids win and some kids lose. President Obama promised we would fix this—and fix it for all students, not just some.
“Educators know what works for students. They’ve been sharing their views for years and no one is more eager to fix the problems of NCLB than NEA’s members. If the Administration and Congress want our support, they’ll have to put a draft in front of us that really allows teachers to help their students succeed, that doesn’t rely on high-stakes standardized tests. Our children are counting on the adults to get it right.”
AFT President Randi Weingarten said, “It appears from our first review that despite some promising rhetoric, this blueprint places 100 percent of the responsibility on teachers and gives them zero percent authority. For a law affecting millions of schoolchildren and their teachers, it just doesn’t make sense to have teachers—and teachers alone—bear the responsibility for school and student success.
“Teachers are on the front lines, in the classroom and in the community, working day and night to help children learn. They should be empowered and supported—not scapegoated. We are surprised and disappointed that the Obama administration proposed this as a starting point for reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
“We will work to make this law, which is the lifeblood for millions of disadvantaged students, work for kids and their teachers. Our next step is to share this blueprint with teachers in America’s classrooms to elicit their opinions.