Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Education secretary Duncan challenges NEA on teacher pay

Education Secretary Arne Duncan challenged members of the National Education Association Thursday to stop resisting the idea of linking teacher pay to student achievement. It was Duncan's first speech at the union's annual meeting, a gathering at which President Obama was booed when he mentioned the idea of performance pay last year. By contrast, Duncan drew raucous applause and only a smattering of boos.

"I came here today to challenge you to think differently about the role of unions in public education," Duncan told the 3.2 million-member union in San Diego. "It's not enough to focus only on issues like job security, tenure, compensation, and evaluation," he said. "You must become full partners and leaders in education reform. You must be willing to change."

Unions are an important part of the Democrats' political base of support. Duncan, even as he challenged NEA members, promised to include teachers in his decision-making. "We're asking Congress for more money to develop compensation programs with you and for you, not to you," Duncan said.

Duncan described how, as CEO of Chicago public schools, he negotiated a performance pay program with the Chicago Teachers Union, which is part of the 1.4 million-member American Federation of Teachers. An audience member booed the program. "You can boo; just don't throw any shoes, please," Duncan said as the crowd laughed and applauded.

The NEA made an audio feed of the speech available to journalists who did not attend.

The Chicago program is still small; it will be in only about 40 of the city's more than 600 schools next fall. It started with federal dollars from the Teacher Incentive Fund, which the administration wants to drastically expand. The administration asked Congress to boost spending from $97 million this year to $717 million next year.

But Obama may face resistance. Washington Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, a member of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, challenged Duncan at a hearing last month on whether there is any evidence that performance pay improves student achievement. Critics worry that pay might be based mostly on test scores, even though tests can be flawed and not all subjects are tested. Some states prohibit test scores from being used to evaluate teachers.

Duncan said test scores should never be the driving force. "But to remove student achievement entirely from evaluation is illogical and indefensible," he said.

Duncan has made a series of speeches that challenge education groups on Obama's priorities, though Thursday's was the first with a potentially hostile crowd. Duncan may have gotten a warmer response than Obama because teachers are more comfortable now with the administration, said NEA president Dennis Van Roekel. "The real message was that there is far more we agree on than disagree on," Van Roekel said. "Another message he delivered clearly was that he's willing to be in a partnership with us."


Coverup of bullying at a British government grade school

Dinner lady faces dismissal for telling parents about attack on daughter

A dinner lady is facing the sack for breaching “pupil confidentiality” after she blew the whistle on school bullies. Chloe David, seven, was tied up and whipped with a skipping rope by fellow pupils at Great Tey Primary School in Essex. Her parents, Scott and Claire David, received a letter from the school which said only that Chloe had been hurt by some other children. It did not mention that she had been tied up.

Carol Hill, who serves food at the school, told Mr and Mrs David the full story of their daughter’s ordeal. “She had eight knots around her wrists and had been whipped across the legs with a skipping rope,” she said. “I took her into the school, along with the four boys who had been seen with her. Two admitted it,” she told the Colchester Gazette.

But Mrs Hill, 60, has now been suspended while the school investigates if she is guilty of gross misconduct for discussing a pupil outside of school. Mrs Hill saw Chloe’s mother shortly after the incident. “As I was talking to her I said I was really sorry about what had happened and then it became clear she did not know the whole story. “I had to tell her because she then realised there was more to it.”

Mrs David said she was angry she had not been invited to school to discuss what had happened, especially as the parents of those accused had been called in for a meeting. “The headteacher had written a note saying Chloe had been hurt by some other children and she was sure she would tell me all about it, but I should have been told the full story,” Mrs David said.

Chloe and her brother Cameron, five, have been taken out of the school by her parents. “I could not send her back, as I can only think about her being tied up,” Mrs David said. Her husband has informed police about the incident.

The school says that Mrs Hill should not have discussed a pupil outside school. Debbie Crabb, headteacher at the school, confirmed that an incident took place during the school lunchtime. “The matter is being dealt with internally in accordance with our behavioural policy and all the relevant parties have been informed. “It would not be appropriate to discuss this in any further detail.”


1 comment:

Mikethelawstudent said...

I think it makes sense but it just feels wierd. Have you ever heard about Character Education. Some studies show real promise.