Thursday, July 23, 2009

My Open Letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan

Dear Mr. Duncan,

I was just about to log off for the night and go to bed, but then I read about your statement that you will withhold millions of federal education dollars from California. That threatens to keep me awake all night.

Sir, I have two daughters in California public schools. They, and the other millions of students, are not just the future of California, but of the world.

California is the 8th largest economy in the world. It shouldn't come as a shock to anyone that California has been hit hard by this recession.

And it shouldn't come as a shock to you, sir, that your threat does nothing to help our students.

I'm as frustrated with the unions as you are. In fact, I might even be more frustrated as it is my children that are affected by them.

That doesn't mean, however, that my girls should suffer this consequence.

Nor do I agree with the assessment that implementing those testing standards on to the teachers will say anything about the quality of those teachers.

Particularly at a time when my daughter going into 4th grade will most likely be in a class with a mixture of either 3rd graders or 5th graders. Particularly at a time when our state government is already taking money away from our local cities and municipalities.

My daughters' schools are absolutely counting on the federal stimulus money.

I know that the system is broken, but I don't see how this slash in funds does anything more than shatter it completely.

This shouldn't be about unions. This shouldn't be about standardized testing (which still haven't proved to actually be an effective barometer in our future generations being able to do anything more than scan, discard, select and move on).

California schools are much like our Los Angeles river: surviving only on inches of water per year. If you go through with your threat, Secretary Duncan, you will suck California's public system completely dry and our children will give up on their thirst, their desire, to learn.


Jenna said...

You know what the problem is in our country right now? All of these executives are barking up the wrong tree. Instead of looking from the top down, they start at the lowest level, the people actually DOING something and blame them for the problems. The teachers aren't broken, the school system is, and the teacher's have very little say in how the school system is run.

I can't believe in a time like this that this a-hole would actually consider withholding desperately needed funds. That really pisses me off.

FreedomFirst said...

Politicians are idiots and they suck. End of story. I'm seriously thinking about homeschooling in spite of Mark and of my own dislike of teaching. The education system looks to be in a dreadful slump. And I blame it on politics, not on the teachers.

Anonymous said...

Um, this is ALL about Unions. The Teachers Union is killing education in California.

Who runs the school system? It's the teacher's union. For all intents and purposes no change can be made without their approval.

It's a big joke.

Meg said...

It's like with everything else, you don't throw the baby out with the bath water (except in the case of overhauling health care). Yes, unions have too much control, they go overboard. But they still protect workers. We need to reform them so they don't protect unqualified workers.

As for withholding money from schools...I never did get why that's a any type of solution at all. Everything's a competition, I guess. Sad really.

won said...

I am always impressed when you put your...searching for the right words here...when you put your "diplomatic businesswoman" hat on.

Your ability to articulate concisely and convincingly is something I commend you on.

If I were ever the top dog of a company, I'd want you on my team.

Anonymous said...

As a teacher, I would like to commend you on your insight. I hope that you are getting in touch with your representatives on the Federal level as well. I am a high performing teacher ready to quit!

Laura said...

I have spent the last three weeks in a room with 24 amazing teachers. We are all talking about how the standarized tests are not helping our kids. For seven hours a day we discuss and show each other ways to excite our students to write and read and learn. Putting more standarized tests on our children will only further demoralize the system. And requiring teachers to give more standarized tests to prove their worth is counter-intuitive. "Race to the Top" sounds like a variation on "No Child Left Behind."

Jen said...

This is liking hitting a child to teach them that they shouldn't be violent.

So depressing.

Anonymous said...

As always, so well stated. And also, so on point. There is MUCH that needs to be done with ALL of our urban schools. The privates and wealthy suburbs already have it made in the shade.

I hope that he has noted that Charter schools ARE NOT the answer either.

I have to say that this is really the one thing/person that I am disappointed with from Obama.

Why, oh why can't they actually ask educators, those in the field, to solve the problems? Too easy, I guess!

Shiona said...

Great letter. Like you said a test measures nothing. As if educators don't have enough problems.

Suzie said...

I feel your pain here in NYC

LunaNik said...
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