Monday, March 16, 2009

Weingarten's Statement on Obama's Education Speech

In case you missed it, Weingarten succintly recaps the UFT's facilitation of the neoliberal educational model in several phases: merit pay, charter schools, and "data"-driven instruction (read: standardized test-driven instruction)...

Also, here's the full text of Obama's speech. Note especially this paragraph which gives kudos to the data reports akin to the ones that have been recently introduced in NYC:

Of course, raising standards alone will not make much of a difference unless we provide teachers and principals with the information they need to make sure students are prepared to meet those standards. And far too few states have data systems like the one in Florida that keep track of a student's education from childhood through college. And far too few districts are emulating the example of Houston and Long Beach, and using data to track how much progress a student is making and where that student is struggling. That's a resource that can help us improve student achievement, and tell us which students had which teachers so we can assess what's working and what's not. That's why we're making a major investment in this area that we will cultivate a new culture of accountability in America's schools.
UFT President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement in response:

Today President Obama argued for a comprehensive plan for public education focused on finding real world solutions to the challenges facing our schools and our kids.

We support the president’s call for shared responsibility and providing all our children with a comprehensive education.

Here in New York, the UFT has actively been on the forefront of many of the initiatives proposed by the president.

The UFT has always been prepared to step up and support changes which improve schools for kids. We negotiated a voluntary school-wide-performance-bonus system currently in place in more than 200 of New York City’s highest need schools. This program has collaboration, not competition, at its core.

We have supported the use of data to aid teachers in figuring out each student’s academic needs and tailoring instruction to meet those needs.

We operate two charter schools in Brooklyn, and partnered with Green Dot Public Schools to open a third charter school in the Bronx, to show what can be done when schools can focus on educating the whole child, not just on prepping for standardized tests on a narrow number of subjects.

And we have pioneered peer intervention and peer review, with educators taking responsibility for the quality of our own profession.

We agree with the president that education reform should be done with teachers, not to them.

Collaboration means listening to the voice of teachers and providing good teachers and students the tools they need to lower class size and the supportive learning environment they need to succeed.

We must work together to help retain programs like music, art, sports, diverse career and technical programs and Advanced Placement courses.

We still have a long way to go to improve our schools and we want to share in that responsibility, as the president said. Turning around low-performing schools, should always be our first aim; closing them should be only a last resort.

We stand ready to work with the president to help America, and New York, lead the way in education.

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