An Open Letter to @arneduncan #edpolicy

Dear Arne Duncan,

I am honored that you (or your staff) chose to follow me on Twitter. However, I'm not sure it's going to make a difference. I have a hunch that it has more to do with a Connected Educator month than a sincere desire to listen to teachers. However, if you want to connect, I suggest you start with a horizontal, democratic conversation with teachers. Real teachers. The kind affected by your policies.

I believe that you care about kids. I believe that you think merit pay and VAM scores and PARCC assessments will help us reach the top. I don't mind the fact that we disagree. I get that. However, I am bothered by the way the Obama administration uses positive, empty rhetoric while doing little to change the failed policies of No Child Left Behind.

Here's what I mean:
  • talking up STEM while pushing policies that continue to assess science and engineering through informational text and high-stakes tests
  • pandering to the teacher's union and then promoting reformers that are openly anti-union
  • speaking in favor of the altruistic nature of teachers while supporting VAM scores and merit pay (here's a hint: we're not motivated by money. If we fight to keep our pay, it's because many of us have mouths to feed at home)
  • promoting connected learning while doing nothing to ensure universal wireless connectivity in American schools
  • criticizing standardized tests while continuing to use them to rank schools and rank teachers
If you'd ever like to connect, I'd love to have a real conversation. Twitter is great for that. Or maybe we could grab a pint or a cup of coffee. I can show you a place that brews a better IPA than anything the White House puts out. But even then, I wouldn't believe you.

I can't begin to trust you until I see the change in education policy. Right now, your policies are poison.

Sincerely,

John Spencer


John Spencer is a teacher, author, speaker, and incessant doodler.
He is the co-author of Wendell the World's Worst Wizard
and the co-founder of Write About .

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