U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan ignored Chicago Teachers Union at finish line of 'Midwest' opening of school bus tour

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan met with teachers and teacher union leaders from Pittsburgh Pennsylvania to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, during his carefully scripted tour of the Great Lakes region during the opening week of school in September 2011 — but ignored the Chicago Teachers Union in the town where he had served as "Chief Executive Officer" of the public schools for eight years, Chicago Illinois.

The rebranding of American public education could be seen in the paint job and slogans on the tour bus that brought U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to Chicago's Carl Schurz High School on September 9, 2011. Instead of public education for the public good, public education is now cast as an "investment" in the economy, much as any other portfolio investment. Above, Duncan poses with various people in front of Chicago's Carl Schurz High School while staff of the Ed. Dept. look on. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The snub of the largest union in the state that produced the President of the United States and the U.S. Secretary of Education (as well as two chiefs of staff of the President, former Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and the current Chief of Staff, Bill Daley) was orchestrated when Duncan and his staff cast the main public event to take place in Chicago as a sort of political pep rally for the controversial SB7 legislation, passed by the Illinois General Assembly in April 2011 and signed by Governor Pat Quinn in June. Chicago teachers and a growing number of union leaders view SB7 as a racist attack on Chicago teachers' collective bargaining rights, while Democratic Party leaders are hailing it as an alternative model for how government can handle the complex issues of "school reform."

Both Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis and Illinois Federation of Teachers President Dan Montgomery boycotted the event because of its bias against Chicago. The event also took place in the middle of a highly charged media battle between Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Teachers Union over the length of the elementary school day in Chicago. The day before the Chicago event, Duncan praised Emanuel for making an issue of the longer school day, ignoring the fact that for nine years Duncan did not think it an issue worthy of note. Duncan is also ignoring the fact that Emanuel has declared the past 15 years of corporate school reform in Chicago, under Mayor Richard M. Daley and under Duncan himself (who served as Chief Executive Officer of Chicago's public schools from July 1, 2001 through December 2008) as a "failure." Emanuel and the current CPS CEO, the controversial former Rochester New York schools chief Jean-Claude Brizard, have repeated belittled test score gains under previous administrations, effectively declaring that everything prior to 2011 has been a failure. Chicago's mayor got complete control of the school system in July 1995, and the schools were run by appointees of Mayor Richard M. Daley from July 1995 through May 2011, when Emanuel was sworn in and appointed a new school board and news executive administration under Brizard.

Since May 2011, Emanuel and Brizard have taken every opportunity to declare what went on before them a failure, while touting their own promises and escalating a nasty propaganda war against the CTU.

The 2011 Duncanmoble might have been for a Hedge Fund or investment house. "Investing for our Future" was the brand on the side of the bus which once proclaimed the "Courage of Teachers." Above, the 2011 bus as it arrived at Chicago's Schurz High School on September 9, 2011, touting its economic model. Part of that, according to critics, is the role of Duncan in providing support to the union busting attacks of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Duncan's staff did not discuss the complex history and reality, but everyone observing Duncan and his activities while in Chicago left convinced that he didn't want anyone near the TV cameras to remind the public of Duncan's attacks on public education and the growing teacher resistance to it while he served in Chicago's public schools from July 2001 through December 2008. Duncan was appointed U.S. Secretary of Education in January 2009 by President Barack Obama.

The tour as of September 8 was memorialized on the U.S. Department of Education blog and the text of what was up as of the morning of September 11 follows:

Education and the Economy Investing in Our Future

A dramatic example of the "rebranding" of the Duncan Education Department is the change in the Duncanmobile from 2010 to 2011. Above, a U.S. Department of Education photograph of the 2010 bus, which promoted the "Courage of Teachers." By 2011, the brand was promoting public schools in the American democracy as a strictly utilitarian version of reality, touting only the role of education in the capitalist economy, with no reference to other public roles the public schools have long players in the USA. Duncan's attack on the Chicago Teachers Union is consistent with his department's "rebranding" (and the entire mindset that accompanies the notion of "developing a brand"). The “Education and the Economy” Back-to-School Bus Tour takes Secretary Arne Duncan and senior ED staff to more than 50 events throughout the Midwest. During the tour, Duncan and staff will promote the valuable work teachers, parents, and administrators do every day to change American Jobs Act Will Create Jobs Today and In the Future

Posted on September 11, 2011 by Dave Hoff

President Obama’s American Jobs Act will make immediate investments that will help today’s students compete in tomorrow’s economy.

The Jobs Act will provide $30 billion to support teachers’ jobs and another $30 billion to modernize and renovate schools. Both are essential ingredients to the President’s plan to create and preserve jobs to move the economy forward. But they also will ensure children get the preparation needed to compete for jobs in the knowledge economy of the 21st Century.

When the Education and the Economy bus tour stopped in Milwaukee on Friday, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Director of the Domestic Policy Council Melody Barnes emphasized the critical role that the Jobs Act will play in creating jobs today and in the future.

In a town hall at the School of Career and Technical Education, Barnes pointed out that the average Milwaukee public school was built 70 years ago. The Jobs Act will provide $169 million for Milwaukee to modernize and renovate their buildings, ensuring they have the facilities to prepare students to compete for careers tomorrow.

“We can teach students about science and technology, but if they can’t put their hands on, it doesn’t make sense to them,” Barnes said.

The funding for teachers will support 280,000 jobs across the country and 7,400 in Wisconsin alone. Without it, schools will have to make tough choices to increase class sizes or cut programs in the arts and other subjects essential to a well-rounded curriculum.

“None of that is good for our children across the country,” Secretary Duncan said at the event.

The President outlined the American Jobs Act in a speech to Congress on Thursday night.

“There should be nothing controversial about this piece of legislation,” the President said. “Everything in here is the kind of proposal that’s been supported by both Democrats and Republicans. And everything in this bill will be paid for.”

Northwest Indiana Is Ready. Posted on September 9, 2011 by Dave Hoff

We are ready. That’s the message that the One Region, One Vision initiative sent to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan when the Education and the Economy bus tour stopped in Merrillville, Ind., on Thursday afternoon.

Before Secretary Duncan delivered his message about the need to educate our way to a better economy, the conference organizers showed that they’d already learned that lesson.

In a short video that preceded the secretary’s speech, educators and students from throughout the region explained how they are organizing their work around the goal of preparing all students being to be ready for college and careers.

The students talked about how their teachers help them track their progress toward their academic and career goals starting in 8th grade. Shannon Rostin, who is a high school freshman, plans to attend Indiana University and pursue a degree in education. She knows what courses she needs to take to be admitted to IU and is on the path to earning up to 30 credit hours in a dual enrollment program before she even enrolls at the state’s flagship university.

Shannon, like all of those speaking in the video, ended her story by saying: “I am ready.”

The goal of the One Region, One Vision partnership aligns well with President Obama’s agenda to reform America’s schools. In both Race to the Top and the Blueprint for Reform of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Department has encouraged states to set standards that are aligned with college and career expectations.

In his speech, Secretary Duncan praised the collaboration of educators, business executives, and community leaders for working together for education reform. But he also warned that Indiana – and the rest of the country – faces a difficult task if it wants its students to be competitive in the 21st Century economy.

“The reality is tough: Those countries are out-educating Indiana. Plain and simple, they are doing a better job of promoting educational excellence,” Duncan said.

“I know my message today about Northwest Indiana’s educational system has been a sobering one. But I don’t believe that we do our children or our nation any favors by sugarcoating reality,” he added. “We must deal with these challenges openly and honestly, and with a sense of urgency that has been missing for far too long.”

Duncan praised the region for its commitment to expanding dual enrollment programs and turning around low-performing schools. He also singled out the commitment to college- and career-readiness and the willingness to be held accountable for reaching those rigorous standards.

Those investments in education will yield dividends in the 21st Century economy.

Back-to-School Tour Highlights from Day Two

The second day of the “Education and the Economy” Midwest Back-to-School Bus Tour saw Secretary Duncan and other ED officials meeting with education stakeholders in Michigan, Indiana, and other points of the compass. Check out some of the day’s noteworthy items.

Detroit, MI
‘New Day’ Dawns in the Motor City
 Secretary Duncan joined state and local leaders at the Charles H. Wright Academy of Arts and Sciences, urging Detroit to become a national leader in urban renaissance, and calling plans to help more students attend and graduate college ”about the best economic development tool the city can have.” Check out the full post.

The Nerdy Teacher Gets on the Bus.
Between Detroit and Ann Arbor, Secretary Duncan picked up Nicholas Provenzano and his student Teddy, a high school newspaper editor. Provenzano blogs about education issues and Tweets as The Nerdy Teacher. Thursday he posted this summary of his “Day of Epicness.”

Bus Tour in the News

During his bus tour to focus on education and the economy Secretary Duncan visited Detroit to recognize progress they have made to identify and improve persistently low performing schools.

“I appreciate the state being willing to step up and say, ‘Our children deserve better,’” Duncan said when he and other ED officials visited schools in Michigan on Thursday.

Calling on Detroit to turnaround schools, Duncan commended a new effort modeled on The Kalamazoo Promise, which has increased enrollment in the Kalamazoo Public Schools, and can help propel education reforms in the communities and school districts.

Meeting with Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, State Superintendent Mike Flanagan, and other state and local officials and community leaders Secretary Duncan said that thanks to cooperation among stakeholders, he is more hopeful than ever about the future of Detroit schools.

“Today, you might be able to sit at the front of the bus, but if you can’t read, you’re not free,” Duncan told an overflow crowd at the University of Michigan’s School of Education where he participated in a panel discussion on the importance of teacher preparation.

We need a new generation of great teachers who will be better prepared to start making a difference in kids’ lives on day one, Secretary Duncan told a crowd on his stop at the University of Michigan.

And, Indiana stakeholders responded to the Secretary’s call to turn around low-performing schools and equip students with the college credentials and career skills they’ll need to thrive in the global economy.

Merrillville, IN
Ready For College and Career Success in Indiana
When the Secretary brought his message about education and the economy to Northwest Indiana, he said the state – and the nation – must do better to prepare students to compete in the global marketplace. The community’s response: “we are ready” to help students succeed in college and careers.

Gary, IN
Changing the World. Under Secretary Martha Kanter and Assistant Secretary for Rural Outreach John White met with students at Calumet High School, which incorporated the New Tech program to prepare students for college and careers of the future. Using one-to-one computing and project-based learning, Calumet is increasing rigor and teaching students to be “young professionals” who learn problem-solving and shared responsibility by working in teams. The New Tech program was sparked by business leaders in Napa, Calif. Several students wore t-shirts reading, “Changing Lives. Changing Learning. Changing the World.”

From the Mouths of Babes. During a student/teacher roundtable discussion at Calumet New Tech High School in Gary, IN, Under Secretary Martha Kanter asked the group, “What would you tell President Obama?” Student Noah Trevino had this to offer: “America used to be an education mecca, and it needs to be again.”

Kouts, IN
No Bull. On his Thursday visit to Kouts, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Rural Outreach John White heard from third-grader Hayden Landfadt about the student’s plans to go to college. “I’m saving money from raising a cow. Some of it will be for college, some for a car,” Landfadt said. Kouts is a rural Indiana school serving 400 elementary students and 453 in grades 6-12. Read about how “technology took center stage” during ED’s visit to the school.

Washington, DC (via Cleveland on Wednesday)
No Teacher Left Behind. Sitting near First Lady Michelle Obama at Thursday’s Presidential address to Congress was Nicole Gentile, a teacher Arne Duncan met on his bus tour in Cleveland. The Secretary tweeted on Thursday that she may lose her job due to budget cuts. He is hoping that the President’s plan to hire more teachers will pass and that the new funding will allow her school to keep her where she is needed most.

Sweet Tweets

@thenerdyteacher: On my way back from #EDTour11. Great conversation with @arneduncan and @usedgov. Maybe I’ll get a follow now.

@lgoldrick25: MT @usedgov: ED’s Teaching Ambassador Fellows are on #EDTour11 hosting 16+ #teacher roundtables in 7 states. #teaching

@Joy_Resmovits: @arneduncan gets some love from the toledo federation of teachers

@jennydemonte: The UMich school of education room is packed, people sitting on stairs, standing, crouching. Plus watching the webstream #edtour11

@delta_dc: I want a summer lab school @GVSU that immerses preservice, inservice & teacher educators & kids in promising practices. #EDTour11

—Laurie Calvert, Sherry Schweitzer, and Melissa Apostolides
Office of Communications and Outreach

Follow the trail of the Back-to-School bus tour at, through #EDTour11 on Twitter and by signing up for email updates from the Department of Education.

AFT and TFT Share “The Toledo Plan” with Secretary Duncan

Posted on September 9, 2011 by Guest Blogger

Ed. Note: Maryann Woods Murphy is a Spanish teacher and a Washington Teaching Ambassador Fellow on loan from her school in Allendale, NJ. This former New Jersey State Teacher of the Year and 33-year teaching veteran travelled with Secretary Duncan’s bus tour to meet with teachers and teachers unions. Here she shares her first-hand experience with a visit to the AFT Union Hall in Toledo, Ohio on Wednesday, where the Secretary viewed a demonstration of Toledo’s innovative program to mentor and evaluate teachers.

“Welcome to the home of peer review,” says Francine Lawrence, Vice President of the American Federation of Teachers and the former president of the Toledo Federation of Teachers. “We are so proud to recognize what we have done together.”

The room at Union Hall, Toledo, is packed. Teachers, educational leaders and community members are here to share “The Toledo Plan” with the Secretary of Education on his bus tour. There is excitement in the air.

“The Toledo Plan” is a peer review process that uses master teachers to guide and support the professional development of a newly hired probationary teacher or a non-probationary teacher who needs assistance.

Dal Lawrence, former President of the Toledo Federation of Teachers, was a key player in the creation of the plan 31 years ago. He says that it’s about seeing which teachers can “fly on their own” after they get expert mentoring.

Tonight we are watching how the panel reviews the work of two probationary teachers. Each intern teacher has been assigned a trained, consulting teacher who has worked with the intern extensively throughout the year. Now it’s time for that consulting teacher to present a case for the retention or release of their mentee to the panel.

One of the teachers that the consultant presents, shows great organization, an ability to connect with students, expertise in the design of learning activities, clear expectations and terrific routines. This intern seems to be a capable and caring educator and this is what the consulting teacher recommends to the panel.

But the panel needs to probe and clarify any doubts, asking the consultant for evidence of the intern’s positive performance. Finally, the panel decides to affirm the consultant’s recommendation. This teacher will be offered a non-probationary contract for the following school year.

The next probationary teacher presenting to the panel really struggles. Though she is well meaning, her directions are unclear to kids. In her kindergarten class, students are distracted, doodling on themselves with markers, standing up at will and tossing paper cups. Despite the fact that the consulting teacher has offered many helpful suggestions and strategies, the intern cannot get her teaching together. The year has gotten progressively worse, and students are just not learning.

The panel agrees with the consultant’s negative recommendation. This teacher has not learned to “fly” and won’t be invited back to teach in Toledo. She didn’t make the cut.

After the mock peer review process concludes, Arne takes the microphone: “I have followed this model very closely for years,” he says, “I am always looking for models that the country should be looking at.” He goes on to say that he’d like to see more “tough minded collaborations” and “more districts working together in a thoughtful and collaborative way.”

Francine Lawrence, the Vice President of AFT closes the evening by saying that “in every school where you have significant student achievement, you have union and staff collaboration.”

The positive climate I see tonight and the long history and success of the peer review process show that working together for the good of students is possible. In fact, it’s been happening in Toledo for a very long time.

Maryann Woods-Murphy

Read a previous bus-tour post about the Toledo event.

Talking Teacher Prep in Ann Arbor

Posted on September 9, 2011 by Cameron Brenchley

How do we train a new generation of effective teachers?

This was the question under consideration in a packed room at the University of Michigan’s School of Education, where Secretary Duncan joined a faculty and student panel during a stop in Ann Arbor, Michigan as part of the Department’s Back-to-School Bus Tour.

During the panel discussion, Secretary Duncan highlighted the need for a diverse teaching force. “There is a growing imbalance of what our students look like and what our educators look like,” he said.

Thirty-eight percent of American students are African American or Latino, but only fourteen percent of teachers are, and only 1 in 50 teachers are African American male.

Keep following the progress of this year’s back-to-school tour by visiting, by following #EDTour11 on Twitter, or by signing up for email updates from the Department of Education.

College Access Gets a High Tech Boost

Posted on September 9, 2011 by Daren Briscoe

YPSILANTI-There was a field trip on just the third day of the school year at Ypsilanti New Tech High School @ Ardis, but it wasn’t students doing the traveling. Instead, the school itself was the destination, for Greg Darnieder, Education Secretary Duncan’s senior advisor on the College Access Initiative, who visited the school as part of ED’s back-to-school tour through the Midwest.

As one of ten schools in Michigan’s New Technology High School Network, Ypsilanti New Tech @ Ardis employs the system’s Project-Based Learning (PBL) approach to “use technology and inquiry to engage students with issues and questions that are relevant to their lives,” according to promotional materials.

The public school, in just its second year of operation, is funded in part by more than $1.2 million in Federal Title II support to the state of Michigan that has helped seed six New Tech schools.

Darnieder toured several classes at the school, including Geo(graphy)Tech and PhysicsTech, guided by sophomores Kelsey Scott and Zachery Roberson.

While the campus bristles with high-end technology like high-definition cameras, flat screen TVs and laptop computers, school officials say the goal is for students to embrace technology – in all its forms – as a tool to advance learning.

Scott and Roberson enthusiastically endorsed the approach, describing a class project from their freshmen year where students put together a multimedia project on the Roaring 20′s, including producing a newspaper, videos and class presentations built around research into the technological developments, significant events and important figures of the time.

“It’s a really fun way to learn,” Scott said, “and you don’t even realize until later how much you have learned.”

Holly Heaviland, director of the New Tech network in Michigan’s Washtenaw county, explained to Darnieder that the school strives to “marry innovations with other things kids need,” including strategies to increase college access. She introduced him to two teams of College Advising Corps members from the University of Michigan and Michigan State University. Together, the teams provide valuable college counseling support to 33 Michigan urban and rural schools.

“You guys are in a key role,” Darnieder told the group, mentioning President Obama’s goal of reaching 8.2 million new college graduates by 2020. “I want to thank you for stepping out there and venturing into the land of young people. So much of success in this area is about building relationships. It’s about academics, too, but especially for first generation college-going students, success revolves around relationships.”

His point was echoed by Joilyn Stephenson, a member of the University of Michigan college advising corps. “A lot of people don’t realize that these students are helping us as well,” Stephenson said. When we can see some of the challenges they’re overcoming, it encourages us to do our best.”

-Daren Briscoe
Office of Communications and Outreach

Education and the ‘New Day’ in Detroit

Posted on September 8, 2011 by Dave Hoff

In a spirited community meeting at a high-performing public school in Detroit, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan reminded the audience that the city’s economic renaissance is inextricably linked to the reform of its schools.

“I couldn’t be more hopeful about Detroit,” Duncan told more than 200 parents, community leaders, and Mayor Dave Bing and other political leaders. “There’s an alignment of leadership and an alignment of commitment and courage here.”

“My challenge to Detroit is to become the fastest improving district in the country. I can’t see any reason why that can’t happen.”

The forum at the Charles H. Wright Academy of Arts and Sciences was the first stop on the second day of the “Education and the Economy: Investing in our Future” bus tour.

Duncan appeared on the panel with Governor Rick Snyder; state Superintendent Mick Flanagan; Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Roy Roberts; Keith Johnson, the president of the Detroit Teachers Union; Sharlonda Buckman, executive director of the Detroit Parent Network; and Dan Varner, the executive director of Excellent Schools Detroit.

“One of the things that’s happening in Detroit is that a coalition of community organizations, philanthropies, and businesses have come together and said we’re no longer going to accept mediocrity for our children,” said Varner.

Varner added that there’s a commitment in the city to begin anew with an intense focus on improving the results for students.

“We have to think as if we were starting from scratch and ask: What do we want to create to ensure we get great educational outcomes for our children,” he said.

But the commitment goes beyond fixing the K-12 schools. It extends to ensuring students have the opportunity to go to college. Through the Detroit Promise, the public-private partnership guarantees that high school graduates from the city will receive free tuition for at least two years of college.

“The Detroit Promise is such an important piece of the puzzle,” Duncan said. “It might be about the best economic development tool the city can have.

In addition, the state is committed to turning around the city’s lowest performing schools and engaging its parents in the education of their children.

With all of these commitments in place, Duncan challenged Detroit to be a national leader for reform in urban areas.

“Detroit has the opportunity to leap-frog other urban districts,” Duncan said. “I want to do everything I can to be helpful.”

Back-to-School Highlights from Day One

Posted on September 8, 2011 by Sherry Schweitzer

The “Education and the Economy” bus tour shuttled Secretary Duncan and other ED officials to events with students, parents, educators and community leaders from New York to Ohio and places in between. Here are some of the highlights from day one: Pittsburgh, PA
Education is Job One. At Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary, Secretary Duncan linked education and jobs. “A quality education system and a strong, growing vibrant economy are inextricably linked,” he said. “If we do this well, we put our country back on the path to prosperity.” Read the full post.

Pittsburgh, PA
Harnessing Research and Technology for Higher Ed Excellence. And, in a Wednesday afternoon speech to administrators, teachers and students at Carnegie-Mellon University, Under Secretary Martha Kanter outlined the Obama administration’s investments in open educational resources, to broaden access to high-quality higher education for students across the country. “If we get this right, our generation will enable the greatest expansion in access to high-quality education opportunities in world history. And we are determined to get it right,” Dr. Kanter told the audience.

Bus Tour in the News

The Secretary’s message resonated in Pittsburgh, including his emphasis on the need for schools, teachers unions and communities to partner in improving student outcomes, and his call for more volunteers and mentors to support at-risk youth and their teachers, especially in low-performing schools.

“The battle isn’t with us. The battle is with poverty; the battle is with social failure; and the battle is with unemployment. We have to have a vision of how we are going to overcome those battles together,” Secretary Duncan said at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary school on Pittsburgh’s North Side.

Secretary Duncan brought his message about the need to invest in education to a Pittsburgh elementary school and an early learning center in Erie. He focused on laying a solid foundation from children’s earliest years.

“Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grants level the playing field,” Secretary Duncan said Wednesday on his stop in Erie at the Early Connections pre-K Learning Center.

Even the time between stops was newsworthy, as the Secretary was interviewed on the bus by ride-along bloggers and reporters, who covered the day’s events and the conversations on the road.

Saying that the time of high paying jobs without a high school diploma has passed, Secretary Duncan joined educators, parents and community leaders in Cleveland to call for education beyond high school and mentors to turnaround low-performing schools.

In Toledo, Secretary Duncan praised the Toledo teacher evaluation plan, created in 1981 by then-Toledo Federation of Teachers President Dal Lawrence, for its union and management collaboration.

Erie, PA
A Big Start for Little Learners. The Secretary’s second stop – for a roundtable at a pre-K learning center – showcased strong early education programs as a powerful investment in students’ success in school and life. “There’s nothing more important we can do to get our babies off to a great start,” Duncan noted.

Erie, PA
From Cradle to College–in a few hours! Before departing from the roundtable event at the Early Learning Connections Center, Secretary Duncan took a few minutes to meet with Noekhea Williams, a 12th grader at Central Technical High School who has participated in GO College Erie, a national program aimed at increasing college access and completion for at-risk students. Williams and several of her cohorts shared with Duncan that she has benefitted from two programs funded by ED (TRIO and i3), and that these programs have helped her to find options for her to go to college and make her life better. GO College Erie is five-year program funded by a combined $24 million contribution from the U.S. Department of Education ($20 million) and the GE Foundation ($4 million).

Cleveland, OH
Connecting Communities and Classrooms for Student Success. On his third stop, the Secretary met with a capacity crowd at East Tech High School, highlighting progress in the region and the State, including comprehensive reform sparked by the State’s successful bid for Race to the Top funds.

Cleveland, OH
Teachable Moment. In Cleveland Arne met two teens who described to him their own teachable moment. While walking to school on September 2, James Rhodes High School’s Dontaz Bailey (9th grade) and Juan Goins (10th) stopped to save the life of a woman who was attempting to jump off of the 130-foot Fulton Road Bridge to end her life. Instead, the boys grabbed the woman’s ankles, talked to her, and begged her to hang on. Police reported that once they arrived on the scene, the boys shied away from accolades, saying that they wanted to get to school. Later, Goins offered advice to the troubled woman. “We saved her life, it was an honor to save her,” he said. “But that’s no way to solve your problems.”

Essex, NY
Country Roads Lead to College Access. And, from Tuesday, John White, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Rural Outreach, toured three Adirondack schools with Rick Dalton, President and CEO of College For Every Student (CFES). The schools, including Willsboro Central, Crown Point Central and Ticonderoga Middle, have been recognized by CFES as “Schools of Distinction” for inspiring rural students to attend college, and equipping them with skills and resources to reach their goals.

Our Favorite Tweets

@newtechnetwork: Beginning the right way @ArneDuncan welcoming students first! #edtour11

@JTFlynny: Cleveland All City Drumline – awesome! #edtour11

@Joy_Resmovits: @arneduncan‘s applause line in Cleveland “In tough economic times, we have to continue to invest in education” #edtour11

@StriveTogether: “U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan urges community support of schools and schoolchildren” #edtour11

@khefling uncan: “You can’t have a great city without a great school system.” Praises work between teachers union and district in Pit #EDTour11

@thenerdyteacher: #EDTour11 – .@arneduncan – We’ve (Dept of Edu) been part of the problem. Too focused on compliance and not enough on innovation. #Truth

—Laurie Calvert, Sherry Schweitzer, and Melissa Apostolides
Office of Communications and Outreach

Keep following the progress of this year’s back-to-school tour by visiting, by following #EDTour11 on Twitter, or by signing up for email updates from the Department of Education.

Duncan and Officials Observe Mock Presentation of Innovative Teacher Mentoring and Evaluation Program at AFT Hall

Posted on September 8, 2011 by Daren Briscoe

An innovative teacher evaluation plan, developed with the participation of the teachers union in Toledo, Ohio, was the focus of the final stop on the first day of the “Education and the Economy” bus tour.

Secretary Duncan paid a visit late Wednesday to the Toledo Federation of Teachers union hall. There, along with 75 teachers, union officials, local elected officials and community members, Duncan observed a mock peer-review panel presentation of the Toledo Plan, 2001 winner of the “Innovations in American Government Award” competition co-sponsored by Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and the Council for Excellence in Government, with funding from the Ford Foundation.

Brochures describe the program as an “intensive model of evaluation and mentoring” for intern teachers…“aimed at those most in need of professional help – beginning teachers and those experienced teachers in trouble.”

But Dal Lawrence, former president of the Toledo Federation of Teachers, had a simpler description.

“We want to find out who can teach in Toledo and who can’t,” Lawrence told Secretary Duncan. “We want to give enough expert mentoring and coaching to people so that they can fly on their own.”

During the presentation, two Toledo Public Schools intern consultants, who are assigned to newly hired Toledo teachers (interns) for two semesters, evaluated two former interns, Matthew Ziegler and Amanda Carr (fictitious name). The consultants’ summary evaluation reports were presented to an Intern Board of Review composed of five teachers and four administrators.

Their reports, based largely on interns’ progress toward meeting specific goals as determined by the consulting teachers, included descriptions and evidence of the interns’ performance in the areas of teaching procedures, classroom management, subject knowledge and personal characteristics/professional responsibility.

Upon receiving a recommendation from the consulting teachers on the interns’ future employment status, – “yes” for Ziegler, “no” for Carr – the panel had an opportunity to question the presenters and discuss the interns’ performance before conferring and voting on the recommendations.

The dialogue drew out specific areas where the two teachers were either performing well. For Ziegler: “Weekly goals are outlined and posted on the blackboard, uses baskets to distribute materials quickly, spirals lessons through increasing levels of complexity.” For Carr: “Students are not engaged consistently, high standards of work are not encouraged, class rules and consequences are posted but not enforced consistently or fairly.”

Afterwards, the panel voted to accept the recommendation in both cases; Ziegler was approved to receive a second one-year contract and released from the intern program, while Carr’s performance was deemed unsatisfactory, with no offer of a second-year contract.

Next, Lawrence asked Ziegler (who went on to become a math teacher after his real evaluation and was in the audience) to stand to applause from the crowd.

Secretary Duncan joked with Ziegler, saying “That must be a little odd – watching your own life like that.”

“I’ve followed this model closely for years, and this was a chance to learn and pay very close attention to the hard work, collaboration, and thoughtfulness that went into this process,” Duncan said.

Red Jackets On, City Year Supports At-Risk Students

Posted on September 8, 2011 by Massie Ritsch

CLEVELAND-You know them immediately by their red coats. And their enthusiasm. They are City Year corps members-young Americans who serve for a year in urban communities throughout the country, including in Cleveland and its public schools.

On Wednesday afternoon, City Year corps members cheered for guests as they arrived at Cleveland’s East Technical High School for a forum featuring Secretary Duncan. On any normal school day, you would find them cheering for 9th graders in the city who are at risk of getting off track and dropping out of school.

City Year just began its second school year of involvement on some of Cleveland’s lowest-performing campuses-five schools this year, all of them undergoing a turnaround funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s School Improvement Grant program. Corps members serve as mentors and tutors to cadres of students whose grades have slipped and who show the indicators of becoming high school dropouts.

City Year focuses on the ABCs-Attendance, Behavior and Coursework. The day for corps members can start as early as 7 a.m., calling students’ homes to make sure their charges will show up for school.

“The first battle is getting kids into the schools,” said Phillip Robinson, executive director of City Year Cleveland and a native of the city. “Then we work on behavior…and coursework.” Last year, Robinson said, Cleveland students supported by City Year saw a 10-point increase in their attendance. Focusing on the non-academic factors that affect school performance “allows the principals and teachers to focus on teaching,” he said.

What City Year is doing in Cleveland is also happening in 20 other cities around the country, including other stops on Secretary Duncan’s “Education and the Economy” tour: Detroit, Milwaukee and Chicago.

In exchange for their year of service, corps members receive a $5,550 education award to defray the costs of college or graduate school, plus a modest stipend for living expenses. Funding comes from public sources, including the Department’s School Improvement Grant program and the Corporation for National and Community Service’s AmeriCorps program, as well as contributions from corporations, foundations and individuals. City Year is also a partner in a five-year, $30 million grant from the Department’s Investing in Innovation (i3) program that is focusing on turning around “dropout factories” in 14 school districts. For every $1 in government funding, Robinson said, City Year tries to raise $2 from private sources.

“We’re a higher-yield, low-cost human growth strategy,” he said. Donors are “investing in the transformation” of Cleveland and the other communities where City Year is at work.

Todd Marsh, a 24-year-old Ohio State University graduate who was among the dozens of corps members filling several front rows at Wednesday’s forum, is staying on for a second year with City Year, as a team leader assigned to an academy set up just for 9th graders.

“As much as you’re giving back to a community,” Marsh said, “you’re also developing your own professional and leadership skills.” And developing similar skills-plus others-in those students whom City Year is helping to graduate.

Office of Communications and Outreach


September 11, 2011 at 6:00 PM

By: John Kugler

Debate is Silly

good comment from Huffington Post



2 hours ago (2:45 PM)

This debate is silly. Students don't need more time in the classroom they need less. What we need to do is rebuild our culture and build it around the idea that education is valuable and important. Time in school by itself does not produce results. As a teacher I have worked with students for an hour a week in an after school program and those students have gone on to pass college level exams. I gave them specific and important informatio­n and they went home and did the heavy lifting that is called learning.

Teachers should be given the tools and flexibilit­y of college professors­. Some students need less class time and some need more based on their skills and their ability levels. I would love the opportunit­y to give students who are motivated and can work on their own the option to only attend every other day so that I could work more with those who truly need more help.

The other option is to reduce class sizes to a manageable level of 15-20 students as exists in the best countries for education. Then every kid could receive meaningful instructio­n every day, but forcing teachers and students to spend more time in already overcrowde­d classrooms and expecting better results is foolish at best. Every student needs the tools of the 21st century and in some parts of America they are not getting them. That is a fact and extending the school day will not change that.

September 11, 2011 at 6:12 PM

By: John Kugler

Arne Ignores Union Busting

good coverage of how Arne is abusing his office to promote a political agenda rather than do his job.

Oh, that's what he did when he was in Chicago.


Arne Duncan Meetings With Rahm Emanuel, Scott Walker Don't Address Teachers Union Controversy

Posted: 9/9/11 07:23 PM ET

CHICAGO -- Stopping in areas notorious for volatile labor relations this year, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan wrapped up his Great Lakes bus tour in Milwaukee and Chicago on Friday with little talk of teachers union battles.

In Milwaukee, Duncan was joined by Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who outraged educators by signing a budget in June that severely limited their collective bargaining rights, at a town hall event focused on connecting learning to career skills.

"All of us feel your presence today but appreciate your interest in Milwaukee and particularly the Milwaukee Public School system," Walker said in the library of Milwaukee's School of Career and Technical Education.

"You've done some things we agree with, and you've done some things that we don’t agree with," Duncan said, addressing Walker. "Limiting collective bargaining rights is not the right way to go," he added, garnering applause.

Duncan did not further address Walker's union-busting laws, except to laud Senate Bill 7, legislation Illinois passed in May with limited union collaboration that makes teacher tenure harder to obtain, gives districts the ability to fire teachers for poor performance and allows Chicago to lengthen its school day. "They made it much much tougher to get tenure," Duncan said.

The Chicago Teachers Union pulled its support for the measure at the last minute, and is currently at war with district management over the school day issue. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel had four schools lengthen their school days by getting teachers in each school vote to waive their union contracts. On Friday, CTU filed an unfair labor lawsuit against the school board, saying Emanuel's work extending the school day was tantamount to declaring "war" on the union. The suit claimed that Emanuel's tactics, which included offering raises to teachers that accepted the increase, constituted bribery.

At a panel event about SB7 with Duncan Friday afternoon at Schurz High School in Chicago, Emanuel did not address his falling-out with CTU until a reporter presented him with allegations that he exploded at CTU president Karen Lewis at a recent meeting. In response, he told reporters that he didn't want to get into a shouting match, but that the meeting ended in a hug.

CTU representatives did not attend the Chicago event, nor did Illinois Federation of Teachers president Dan Montgomery. Montgomery was originally scheduled to sit on the SB7 panel with Duncan and Emanuel. He did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Without acknowledging that CTU pulled its support of the bill, Duncan lauded SB7 as a model the rest of the nation should follow. "The wrong way is to shut people out of the process," he said. "This is about elevating the profession, this is about strengthening the profession, this is about educating our way to a better economy."

Now that SB7 has passed, Illinois has to develop the details of the implementation process, including devising a new teacher evaluation process. It is unclear how that process will be hampered by an unanticipated $500,000 funding gap.

Duncan also used his pulpit to trot out the details of Obama's jobs bill. "Hopefully all of you saw the president's speech last night," he said. Illinois would receive $1.24 billion for saving teacher jobs and $1.1 billion for school construction. "To see his commitment on education is just extraordinary."

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