Thompson: Reconciling Teachers With Reform
Can the Administration find its way past the idea that it must beat up on inner city teachers in order to help poor schools? It's not clear. Secretary Duncan commented on Michelle Rhee's teacher firings: "It’s a race to the top. I don’t think anyone’s going to fire their way to the top." And President Obama told the Urban League that anyone who wants to use Race to the Top to blame or punish teachers is missing the point. Politico reports that there's a concerted effort to step back from the cliff. It's going to take a little bit more than that, however. The President and Duncan should go further, warning explicitly that school systems that use RttT money to violate established principles of social science and the law while using test scores to fire teachers will forfeit their grants. Secretary Duncan should apologize for his statement regarding the Los Angeles Times naming names. President Obama should apologize for his mis-characterizations of the teachers at Central Falls. Obama has done many great things for education and it should not be hard to repair the damage done to his relationship with teachers. I personally would be satisfied with a couple of apologies, and a few explicit guarantees that federal funding will not be misused.