Educators need more than cheerleaders in high places


Arne Duncan has been U.S. Secretary of Education for several years now, and he still doesn’t get it. You don’t reward and build public respect for teachers with feel-good campaigns and phrases, but that is still what he is trying to do.

In the newspaper column linked below, journalist Mary Sanchez takes Duncan to task over the Department of Education’s new public service campaign, called “Teach,” which purportedly was designed to convince more of the top college students to become teachers.

Sanchez says the campaign essentially has “all the honesty and appeal of ‘Join the Army and see the world,’” while ignoring what really is important in teacher recruitment and retention, beginning with better pay.

The column isn’t about Texas teachers specifically, and I am not sure the writer gives enough credit to the current crop of educators. But the piece is relevant since Texas teachers are paid $8,000 below the national average, and compensation for the teaching profession nationally ranks below most other professions.

Small wonder that about 44 percent of Texas teachers are taking extra jobs during the school year, and about half of Texas teachers quit during the first five years in the classroom.

The column also addresses other relevant issues, including the grossly uneven distribution of income and wealth in America, and how that affects teachers’ challenges in the classroom.

Adding insult to injury – and this isn’t in the column – Duncan also is promoting the misguided fantasy that tying teacher pay to student test scores will somehow magically make all our educational problems disappear.

Arne Duncan purports to be an advocate for public education, but educators – and their students — need more than cheerleaders with empty slogans.



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