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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Arne Duncan stresses teacher quality

Arne duncan photo Anybody in Florida who thinks improving teacher quality is important – and not some kind of code speak for “teacher bashing” – just got some cover from President Barack Obama’s education secretary.

In his big speech last week – which didn’t get near enough ink (did a word of it run anywhere in Florida?) – Arne Duncan offered frank talk on the subject, which he says is one of the four “core reforms” for bettering American schools. Here's a sampler:

“We created seniority rules that protect teachers from arbitrary and capricious management – and that’s a good goal. But sometimes those rules place teachers in schools and communities where they won’t succeed – and that’s wrong.”

“We created tenure rules to make sure that a struggling teacher gets a fair opportunity to improve – and that’s a good goal. But when an ineffective teacher gets a chance to improve and doesn’t – and when the tenure system keeps that teacher in the classroom anyway – then the system is protecting jobs rather than children.”

“I understand that tests are far from perfect and that it is unfair to reduce the complex, nuanced work of teaching to a simple multiple choice exam. Test scores alone should never drive evaluation, compensation or tenure decisions. That would never make sense. But to remove student achievement entirely from evaluation is illogical and indefensible.”

“It’s time we all admit that just as our testing system is deeply flawed – so is our teacher evaluation system – and the losers are not just the children. When great teachers are unrecognized and unrewarded – when struggling teachers are unsupported – and when failing teachers are unaddressed – the teaching profession is damaged.”

(Photo from

Ron Matus, state education reporter

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:27am]


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