NEA President Van Roekel Criticizes School Reformers

The “Answer Sheet” blog of the Washington Post (6/16, Strauss) reported this weekend on the response to the Vergara decision, highlighting a series of past headlines which claimed that teachers’ unions have been under attack for years. The article seems to imply that despite school reformers’ jubilation over the video and belief that teachers’ unions are struggling, unions are not under any more threat today than they have been in the past. The Post also focuses on a video and statement by National Education Association president Dennis Van Roekel, which criticizes school reformers for their “political attacks” on educators.

        In its coverage, Politico (6/16, Simon) reported that Van Roekel referred to an ad in USA Today which called on citizens to sue teachers unions as well as a Politico article on the decline of unions. “It’s easy to get discouraged when the rhetoric of our opponents dominates the headlines and the airwaves... But I, like you, don’t look at the world through the pages of USA Today or the headlines in POLITICO,” he wrote. Referring to the reformers who filed the Vergara lawsuit, Van Roekel said, “I have a message for those people who would seek to reduce children to a test score and teaching to a technological transaction. You are mistaken if you think we will see your attacks and get discouraged, that we will read the headlines and give up.”


Duncan Comments On Teacher Tenure Ruling


Bloomberg News (6/16, Staiti) reports on comments by Education Secretary Arne Duncan regarding a California judge’s decision to end the state’s teacher tenure laws, calling it a “broken status quo” in need of reform. “The decision affirmed the fundamental duty to ensure that all students, regardless of zip code, family income or skin color, receive a quality education – starting with an effective teacher,” Duncan said in a statement. He added, “It took enormous courage for 10th-grader Beatriz Vergara and her eight co-plaintiffs to stand up and demand change to a broken status quo. It’ll take courage from all of us to come to consensus on new solutions.” According to Bloomberg, Duncan also said he advocates tenure after a “meaningful” span of time, and that performance should dictate layoffs rather than seniority.

        Duncan Reflects On “Right Lessons” From California Teacher Tenure Ruling. The Washington Post (6/16, Strauss) reports in its “Answer Sheet” blog that Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Sunday issued a new statement “offering what he thinks are the ‘right lessons’” in the Vergara case, “in which a Los Angeles judge tossed out state statutes giving job protections to teachers.” Duncan put forth what he thinks are the “right lessons” from the case. In his statement on Sunday, Duncan “said that ‘tenure itself is not the issue here’ and that he ‘absolutely’ supports ‘job security for effective teachers,’ but he still praised the verdict as the right one in this case.” Duncan “said he hopes the verdict doesn’t lead to a long period in which the case is appealed by teachers unions (which will certainly happen) and for more such lawsuits to be filed in other states by those seeking to reduce union power (which will certainly happen).”