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Posted at 12:01 AM ET, 10/20/2010

Why I'm not embarrassed by the Baltimore teachers' vote

By editors

By Arne Duncan

The Oct. 18 editorial “An education setback in Charm City” suggested that I should be red-faced about the union vote against the proposed Baltimore teacher contract.

I am never embarrassed when efforts by local educators to drive change fall short. The greatest crime in education is accepting the status quo, and Baltimore Superintendent Andrés Alonso and the Baltimore Teachers Union deserve a lot of credit for crafting this bold proposal. I have every hope and expectation that teachers in Baltimore will embrace the contract after they learn more about it.

I also disagree with your conclusion that the Baltimore proposal is not ambitious. Eliminating the salary schedule and tying evaluation in part to student achievement is hugely significant. These are the kind of reforms we are rewarding through Race to the Top and the kind of reforms we will showcase at our upcoming conference on labor-management relations. Furthermore, we regularly highlight the new D.C. teacher contract as a national example, and we will continue to do so at the conference.

Progressive labor agreements like the ones in D.C.; Hillsborough County, Fla.; New Haven, Conn.; and elsewhere show us how collective bargaining agreements can become vehicles for reform. While there is no single model that will work in every district, all of these models have to much to offer.

The writer is the U.S. secretary of education.

By editors  | October 20, 2010; 12:01 AM ET
Categories:  Baltimore, HotTopic, Maryland, schools  
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Editorial Board to Arne Duncan: We are in charge of education reform spin.

Arne Duncan to Editorial Board: For DCPS maybe, but not for DoE. Know your place, mind your manners and don’t let this happen again.

Editorial Board: Yes, Sir!

Posted by: efavorite | October 20, 2010 8:43 AM | Report abuse

"Eliminating the salary schedule and tying evaluation in part to student achievement is hugely significant."

This is not reform. Student test scores are not a measure of teacher effectiveness.

How I wish we had a more realistic person for the secretary of education. Arne Duncan is not doing a good job. And his reforms are not true reform.

Posted by: jlp19 | October 20, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

I'm voting against Obama because of Arne Duncan's false reforms. Otherwise I would support Obama.

Posted by: jlp19 | October 20, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

There were issues with the contract's pay schedule. If a principal did not do the required observations then the teacher had no chance of moving from the satisfactory pay lane to the next one (professional). The difference in pay was substantial--enough to warrant finding another job. What an excellent opportunity for a principal to get rid of a teacher they didn't like! Just don't observe them and watch them lose thousands of dollars in salary.

Posted by: musiclady | October 20, 2010 8:05 PM | Report abuse

It's about time we try the one thing we have never tried in educational reform... holding the instructor's accountable. Most good teachers know the need for this are are happy to participate because they know there are some teachers in their own schools that need to move on to other occupations.

Everyone knows a teacher or 2 in every school that is terrible at their job. Let's get those peole into more appropriate jobs.

The good teachers know who they are too. They are the one whom every parent wants for their own children. They consistently encourage all of their students to achieve at the highest levels possible.

Posted by: 12345leavemealone | October 21, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Let's hold Arne Duncan responsible for what he did in the Chicago Public Schools. While claiming to make teachers and schools accountable, he decimated the inner city schools.

Posted by: jlp19 | October 21, 2010 6:59 PM | Report abuse

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