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Monday, April 25, 2011

Sound bites from EWA - Educators speak out on issues at event.

 U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan,  NBC News President Steve Capus and American Federation of Teachers Union President Randi Weingarten were among those who spoke at the Education Writers Association 64th National Seminar in New Orleans at the Intercontinental Hotel in early April.
The theme was Recovery and Reform in a city that was hit the hardest in a hurricane and still fighting to regain what they lost.
The conference brought together educators and journalists across the nation to learn about the issues facing education as well as some got a view of what it's like inside the schools of New Orleans.
Policy makers and academics who work on the front lines of the education arena spoke passionately on topics such as union reform, higher education, and school financing. Here are some snippets from the  panelists and speakers during the conference weekend.

Lunchtime talk with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan - here are some sound bites from his discussion with the crowd. 

“I have yet to talk to teacher who is scared about accountability. They just want it to be fair.”
“Most teacher evaluations are broken.”
“Nothing could have happen without Race to the Top.”

“Our goal is to not dance with lemons.” (This was in reference to a recent movie "Waiting for Superman" a documentary about U.S. public education system.)

“We are just going to invest in results.”

“Can’t support cuts in early childhood education."

Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association had some things to say during the State of Teachers Union discussion at the conference.

"We have a system in the United States where 47 percent of teachers leave within five years,"  Van Roekel said.  "No one wants incompetence in the classroom. We have to lead and develop." 

"Across the states, school leaders are concerned with budgets and unfunded mandates," Higher Education Editor, Scott Jaschik said during the Higher Education Budget Cuts: Magnitude and Impact session.

"Pell grants use to be a bi-partisan program," Jaschik said.

  States can't rely on a steady diet of (federal) funds." panelists from session on Federal Money: Stimulus and Beyond said.

Sandy Kress, former President Bush education advisor that helped write the original No Child Left Behind shared his thought about the legislation. 

"I don't see any consensus around the (NCLB) policy," he said. "We really have to pay more attention to secondary education and worry about teacher effectiveness. We have to spend our money in a more targeted and effective way. I don't see serious thought in resolving those issues."

                                          U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan answers a
                                           question about school unions and collective bargaining.

 -- Angela Gartner

Friday, April 22, 2011

Conference brings out emotions of school union leaders

Union leaders ran through a whirlwind of emotions at The State of the Teacher's Union's session at the Education Writers Association National Conference in New Orleans earlier this month
“Kasich is going in the opposite direction,” President of the American Federation of Teachers Randi Weingarten said in an interview about the Ohio’s new governor.
"He is a wrecking ball," she said. 
She talked specifically about the work school leaders have done with winning the federal initiative The Race to the Top.
"Kasich will take the state back a lot and attempting to go backward in time and undo the work in education," she said.
Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association, couldn't agree more with Weingarten who spoke on the session's panel.
Both spoke on the recent changes made with Wisconsin and Ohio's new collective bargaining laws for educators.
Weingarten said it was an all out assault and it's not about balancing the budget in these states. 
"What's happening in those states is far bigger than just education issues," she said. "We are still emerging from the greatest recession. None of the teachers caused it." 
Roekel said collective bargaining is a process.
"It's a problem solving process," he said. "If the process is used well, there could be incredible decisions made through the toughest circumstances."
Although, both seemed passionate about the new legislation, they agreed change has to take place within teacher evaluation systems.
"We need to step up and share responsibility," Weingarten said. "Everyone wants a silver bullet."

- Angela Gartner