Teacher Writes Open Letter Criticizing U.S. Secretary of Education
Teacher Writes Open Letter Criticizing U.S. Secretary of Education
By David Reber / examiner.com
May 28, 2011

In response to Arne Duncan's Open Letter to America's Teachers, Kansas high school teacher, David Reber wrote an open letter of his own that criticized the Secretary of Education's "corporate-style education reform".

The following is the beginning paragraphs of Reber's response.  For the full letter, click the link at the bottom of the page.

 

 

Mr. Duncan,

I read your Teacher Appreciation Week letter to teachers, and had at first decided not to respond. Upon further thought, I realized I do have a few things to say.
 
I’ll begin with a small sample of relevant adjectives just to get them out of the way: condescending, arrogant, insulting, misleading, patronizing, egotistic, supercilious, haughty, insolent, peremptory, cavalier, imperious, conceited, contemptuous, pompous, audacious, brazen, insincere, superficial, contrived, garish, hollow, pedantic, shallow, swindling, boorish, predictable, duplicitous, pitchy, obtuse, banal, scheming, hackneyed, and quotidian. Again, it’s just a small sample; but since your attention to teacher input is minimal, I wanted to put a lot into the first paragraph.
 
Your lead sentence, “I have worked in education for much of my life”, immediately establishes your tone of condescension; for your 20-year “education” career lacks even one day as a classroom teacher. You, Mr. Duncan, are the poster-child for the prevailing attitude in corporate-style education reform: that the number one prerequisite for educational expertise is never having been a teacher.
 
Your stated goal is that teachers be “…treated with the dignity we award to other professionals in society.”
 
Really?
 
How many other professionals are the last ones consulted about their own profession; and are then summarily ignored when policy decisions are made? How many other professionals are so distrusted that sweeping federal legislation is passed to “force” them to do their jobs? And what dignities did you award teachers when you publicly praised the mass firing of teachers in Rhode Island?
 
You acknowledge teacher’s concerns about No Child Left Behind, yet you continue touting the same old rhetoric: “In today’s economy, there is no acceptable dropout rate, and we rightly expect all children – English-language learners, students with disabilities, and children of poverty - to learn and succeed.”
 
What other professions are held to impossible standards of perfection? Do we demand that police officers eliminate all crime, or that doctors cure all patients? Of course we don’t.
 
There are no parallel claims of “in today’s society, there is no acceptable crime rate”, or “we rightly expect all patients – those with end-stage cancers, heart failure, and multiple gunshot wounds – to thrive into old age.” When it comes to other professions, respect and common sense prevail.
 
Your condescension continues with “developing better assessments so [teachers] will have useful information to guide instruction…” Excuse me, but I am a skilled, experienced, and licensed professional. I don’t need an outsourced standardized test – marketed by people who haven’t set foot in my school – to tell me how my students are doing.
 
I know how my students are doing because I work directly with them. I learn their strengths and weaknesses through first-hand experience, and I know how to tailor instruction to meet each student’s needs. To suggest otherwise insults both me and my profession.
 
You want to “…restore the status of the teaching profession...” Mr. Duncan, you built your career defiling the teaching profession. Your signature effort, Race to the Top, is the largest de-professionalizing, demoralizing, sweeter-carrot-and-sharper-stick public education policy in U.S. history.  You literally bribed cash-starved states to enshrine in statute the very reforms teachers have spoken against.
4.3 ·
2
Featured Pay Per View Films
The Staging Post: Courageous People Never Give Up! (2017)
61 min The Staging Post follows two Afghan Hazara refugees, Muzafar and Khadim. Stuck in Indonesia after Australia 'stopped the boats' and facing many years in limbo, they built a community and started the school which inspired a refugee education revolution. A real-life...
Within Reach (2013)
87 min Within Reach explores one couple's pedal-powered search for a place to call home. Mandy and Ryan gave up their jobs, cars, and traditional houses to 'bike-pack' 6500 miles around the USA seeking sustainable community. Rather than looking in a traditional neighborhood, they...
Fall and Winter (2013)
102 min This stunning film takes you on a hypnotic journey, reaching to the past to understand the origins of the catastrophic environmental transitions we now face. Over two years, director Matt Anderson traveled 16,000 miles to document firsthand our modern industrial world and the...
Trending Today


Love Films For Action? Become a Patron!

Our Patreon campaign is now live! We hope you'll be among the first to support this new direction for Films For Action. The goal is to go 100% ad-free by next year, and become 100% member supported. A monthly pledge of just $1 -5 dollars per month x a few thousand awesome people will ensure we can continue our work and grow our impact across the world. Click here to join.

Join us on Facebook
Teacher Writes Open Letter Criticizing U.S. Secretary of Education