Chicago's Arne Duncan gets an 'F'! NEA speaks at Chicago RA... 3.2 Million Teachers Declare Duncan a Failure

The largest Teachers Union in the nation voted yesterday to warn U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan that the 3. 2 million member National Education Association is not happy with his performance. The vote came on July 2, 2011, at the world’s largest democratic union's deliberative meeting of the 9,000+ representative body of the NEA during its Annual Representative Assembly (RA) meeting in Chicago. To put it bluntly as a possible headline: Duncan is a Failure, according to the largest teachers union in the United State of America.

The floor of the convention of the National Education Association, meeting in Chicago July 2, 2011, showed the organization of the seats by state delegations. More than 9,000 delegates are meeting in Chicago over the July 4 weekend for the national meeting of the 3.2 million member union, that largest in the USA. Substance photo by John Kugler. The action comes a mere two years after it was "Arne Everywhere" during the same RA by the same NEA. The 2009 NEA RA feted Duncan, despite warnings from Chicago that should have made Duncan's real policies clear. But in 2009, Duncan was still new as the appointee of the President elected with the overwhelming support of America's rank-and-file K-12 teachers, and with the backing of the political, organizational and financial muscle of the nation's two largest teacher unions, the 3.2-million member NEA (and the smaller 1.5-million member American Federation of Teachers, of which Chicago Teachers Union is a member).

And to make sure nobody missed the point — Thirteen Things NEA Hates about Arne Duncan?

The message sent load and clear was that the teachers union was upset with the current trend of teacher bashing and privatization that Duncan used as the CEO of the Chicago Public Schools before he was appointed by President Obama to be the Secretary of Education (and export the same teacher bashing, union busting and privatization schemes as national policy under the Obama administration). The language in the resolution using strong and direct language: in 10 out of the 13 points in the resolution, the NEA was clear that Secretary Duncan was a failure in his job. There was some harsh language directly attacking Duncan’s failure as the educational leader of the nation.

-- Disrespecting and failing to honor the professionalism of educators across this country, including but not limited to holding public education roundtables and meetings without inviting state and local representatives of the teachers, education support professionals, and faculty and staff.

-- Perpetuating the myth that there are proven, top-down prescribed 'silver bullet' solutions and models that actually will address the real problems that face public education today…

Another view of the sea of teachers attending the National Education Association's annual convention ("Representative Assembly") in Chicago on July 2, 2011. Substance photo by John Kugler.Anyone who has followed the career of Arne Duncan knows that he is a non-educator who can never legally be allowed in front any classroom of children in any public school in the nation and that his only education credential or background is that his mother runs an after school program for African American youth on the Southeast side of Chicago. Duncan’s was appointed by (now former) Chicago Mayor Richard Daley to privatized and segregate the Chicago school system into pockets of opportunity for certain neighborhoods in the city and to provide "entrepreneurial" opportunities for the capitalist exploitation of the Chicago schools budget. Charter schools expanded, until last month, the head of the Illinois network of charter schools proudly told the Chicago Board of Education that 43,000 of Chicago's 400,000 public school children were in charter schools.

And since January 2009, when he took office after being appointed U.S. Secretary of Education by President Barack Obama, Duncan has been trying to use the resources, power and policies of the entire nation to achieve the same results ("outcomes") across the USA.

What is left out of the narrative of the vote against Duncan today was the fact the President Obama picked him and the NEA plans on supporting Obama in the next election cycle. Even tough the NEA strongly chastised Duncan, it did not goes as far as demand his removal from office.

Below is the full text of the resolution as it was presented to the NEA RA on July 2, 2011:

New Business Item C

The NEA Representative Assembly directs the NEA President to communicate aggressively, forcefully, and immediately to President Barack Obama and US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan that NEA is appalled with Secretary Duncan's practice of:

Weighing in on local hiring decisions of school and school district personnel.

Supporting local decisions to fire all school staff indiscriminately, such as his comments regarding the planned firings in Central Falls, RI.

Supporting inappropriate use of high-stakes standardized test scores for both student achievement and teacher evaluation, all while acknowledging that the currently available tests are not good.

Failing to recognize the shortcomings of offering to support struggling schools or states, but only in exchange for unsustainable state 'reform' policy.

Focusing too heavily on competitive grants that by design leave most students behind—particularly those in poor neighborhoods, rural areas, and struggling schools—instead of foundational formula funding designed to help all the students who need the most support.

Not adequately addressing the unrealistic Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) requirements that brand thriving or improving schools as failures.

Forcing local school districts to choose from a pre-determined menu of school improvement models that bear little resemblance to the actual needs of the school that is struggling.

Focusing so heavily on charter schools that viable and proven innovative school models (such as magnet schools) have been overlooked, and simultaneously failing to highlight with the same enthusiasm the innovation in our non-charter public schools.

Failing to recognize both the danger inherent in overreliance on a single measurement and the need for multiple indicators when addressing and analyzing student achievement and educators' evaluations.

Failing to recognize the need for systemic change that helps ALL students and relies on shared responsibility by all stakeholders, rather than competitive grant programs that spur bad, inappropriate, and short-sighted state policy.

Failing to recognize the complexities of school districts that do not have the resources to compete for funding, particularly in rural America, and failing to provide targeted and effective support for those schools and school districts.

Disrespecting and failing to honor the professionalism of educators across this country, including but not limited to holding public education roundtables and meetings without inviting state and local representatives of the teachers, education support professionals, and faculty and staff; promoting programs that lower the standards for entry into the profession; focusing so singularly on teachers in the schools that the other critical staff members and higher education faculty and staff have been overlooked in the plans for improving student learning throughout their educational careers.

Perpetuating the myth that there are proven, top-down prescribed 'silver bullet' solutions and models that actually will address the real problems that face public education today, rather than recognizing that what schools need is a visionary Secretary of Education that sets broad goals and tasks states, local schools districts, schools, educators, and communities with meeting those goals.

Further, the NEA Representative Assembly directs the NEA Executive Committee to develop and implement an aggressive action plan in collaboration with state and local leaders that will address the issues above.

Starting November 2011, the NEA President will provide regular updates to the delegates on the progress of this plan throughout the year.

The Secretary is accessible to NEA, is a strong advocate for poor children and additional funding for public schools, and has been outspoken in support of collective bargaining rights, but too many NEA members have been alienated by his actions.

Submitted By


July 12, 2011 at 7:15 AM

By: Andrew Martinek

Obama-Duncan Regime

These fools followed up what could have been a strong statement of demands for the administration with an Obama endorsement. That's like telling off your mugger while handing over your wallet. There is NO WAY this CTU-PAC member will vote to support Obama while Arne Duncan and his neo-patronage cronies are bleeding resources away from our neighborhood schools. If AFT or IFT decide to cave like the NEA we should withold our dues to those organizations. The raw weakness by upper tier union leadership is appalling. It's time to say NO!

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