by Duane Campbell
The federal Department of Education directed by Secretary Arne Duncan has proposed rules for school reform money that would prevent states such as California and New York from receiving funds under the so-called “race to the top,” a $4.3 billion dollar part of the federal stimulus act.
Secretary Arne Duncan has an enormous fund of money and great flexibility to invest in some schools to reform, particularly in the areas of most failing schools. However, the rules require states to use student achievement data to rate teachers. The federal Department of Education has proposed rules to prevent states with such laws from getting money from a $4.3 billion-educational innovation fund.
Using the data from the current flawed testing regimes to rate teachers and to influence teacher pay has been blocked by teachers unions in New York, California and elsewhere up until now.
States and schools districts are reeling from budget cuts and reductions, particularly in cash-strapped California; this new assault on teachers unions adds to the unions’ problems. With budget problems taking priority, it may be a week or so before unions are able to respond.
This decision and direction of the rules has the full support of President Barack Obama who has been following the educational advice of neoliberal Duncan. Teachers unions were among the strongest supporters of Obama in the last election.