Teachers Demand Arne Duncan’s Removal

arne duncan

Barack Obama, Arne Duncan

Educators Letter to President Obama Now Online and Ready For Signatures

Here is the link to the Educators Letter to President Obama that asks him to withdraw his support of policies which mandate high stakes testing, to include teachers and parents in all educational policy discussions in his administration and replace Sec of Ed Arne Duncan with an educator who has the confidence of the nation’s teachers. Please sign and circulate widely!

Dear President Obama,

We, the undersigned, a cross section of the nation’s teachers and their supporters, wish to express our extreme displeasure with the policies implemented during your administration by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Although many of us campaigned enthusiastically for you in 2008, it is unlikely that you will receive continued support unless the following three dimensions of your administration’s education initiatives are changed:

  • The exclusion of teachers from policy discussions in the US Department of Education and from Education Summits called under your leadership.
  • The use of rhetoric which blames failing schools on “bad teachers” rather than poverty and neighborhood distress.
  • The use of federal funds to compel states and municipalities to use student test scores in the evaluation of teachers and as the basis for closing low performing schools.

mark naisonBecause of these policies, teachers throughout the nation have become discouraged and demoralized, undermining your own stated goals of improving teacher quality, upgrading the nation’s educational performance, and encouraging creative pedagogy rather than “teaching to the test.”

We therefore submit the following measures to put your administration’s education policy back on the right track and to bring teachers in as full partners in this effort:

  • The removal of Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education and his replacement by a lifetime educator who has the confidence of the nation’s teachers.
  • The incorporation of parents, teachers, and school administrators in all policy discussion taking place in your administration, inside and outside the Department of Education.
  • An immediate end to the use of incentives or penalties to compel states and municipalities to use student test scores as a basis for evaluating teachers, preferring charter schools to existing public schools, and requiring closure of low performing schools.
  • mark naisonCreate a National Commission, in which teachers and parent representatives play a primary role, which explores how to best improve the quality of America’s schools.

We believe such policies will create an outpouring of good will on the part of teachers, parents and students which will promote creative teaching and educational innovation, leading to far greater improvements in the nation’s schools than policies which encourage a proliferation of student testing could ever hope to do.

Mark Naison
With a Brooklyn Accent 


  1. John Rounsevell says

    Neither Duncan nor Obama have ever taught in a real classroom and yet they consistently criticise publc school educators. The Education Secretary needs to go back to his first love……basketball!

  2. Patricia Grant says

    Public education is the cornerstone of our democracy. The assault upon teacher’s unions and the break-up of our great schools is a travesty. FIX public education, don’t FLUSH it.

  3. says

    To robertv – Not true. Many signatures are educators like me. However, I don’t understand your objection to parents, grandparents, and taxpayers signing on or taking this position. They are equal stakeholders in the discussion and we ALL benefit or suffer from the state of public education.

    • says

      To Lee Barrios, M.Ed., NBCT:

      Wha? Where was an objection stated to parents etc. signing the petition? Many=all? Your advanced degree isn’t in logic or even rhetoric, huh?

  4. robertv says

    It is a bit misleading to say that this petition is from teachers, even educators. Many of the organizers have no connection to public education other than being parents, grandparents, or just interested, informed citizens.

  5. says

    I voted for and donated generously to the Obama campaign last time. In fact, I received a personal invitation to the inauguration. As a teacher, I will vote for President Obama again (what choice do I have?) but will not donate anything further while Arne Duncan remains anywhere near an Obama administration.

  6. Michael Kaufman says

    I voted for you last time, and will again, but your administration is taking a wrong road here. Do the right thing.

  7. says

    This was my comment on the petition:
    Get politicians and corporate CEO’s out of education. Put those who actually educate in charge. It’s that simple! Children are not widgets, clones or copies. No two are exactly alike. Societal, economic, family… and personal factors DO impact their “performance” on test scores. The purpose of education is not for children to perform well on tests. A test score is not the final product of an education. The purpose of education is to teach children how to think critically, how to find information, how to learn, while respecting their individuality, and to do this creatively. We do this, in part, by teaching them literacy, numeracy, science, social studies, etc. These are not all that we teach. We also teach social skills, respect, integrity, taking chances in learning, persistence, etc. You can’t test that! We need to be given the autonomy, resources and time to teach. Instead, we’ve had to spend the last 10 or so years fighting for our profession, our jobs, our rights, our education budgets, our resources, our reputations, and most importantly…our students. Teachers should not have to waste any time on fighting for any of these things that diminish our time and energy from doing our job…teaching children. Shame on those who are using and abusing us, taking us away from our mandate – to teach our nation’s children, as they work to game us and the system to privatize education so they can simply make more profits. Shame on you, President Obama, if you allow this political and corporate circus of education “reform” to continue. Instead, why don’t those politicians and CEO’s do their own jobs and fix the stalemate and partisanship in Congress, produce American jobs with living wages and decent benefits, get money out of politics, and end corruption? Oh, and if you truly do want to end bullying, perhaps leading by example would be a good start. Stop bullying educators, stop bullying each other, and start modeling respect, decency and honor. Lead by example, as children learn what they live.


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