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[Susan notes: Joanne Yatvin asks a good question: Why is it that dilettantes like Arne, Duncan are always the ones to set the rules for the teachers and children who live their daily lives in public schools?]

Submitted to Time Magazine but not published
09/14/2009

To the editor

Re: "Can Arne Duncan (And $5

Billion) Fix America's Schools?," September 14, 2009



Why is it that dilettantes like Arne, Duncan are always the ones to

set the rules for the teachers and children who live their daily lives

in public schools? The unions speak for teachers because theirs is the

only voice that legislators will listen to. In the public arena

children have no voice.



When, as you state, "many teachers believe that the tests are

unreliable indicators of student performance," there is good reason.

The problem is not only the weaknesses of existing tests, but also the

other factors that affect student learning besides the teacher, such

as the availability of books at home, nutrition, cultural

opportunities, school attendance, and family stability.



If Duncan gets his way in linking student test results and teacher

performance, most teachers in affluent schools will be rated

"proficient," and most in high poverty schools will be rated

"unacceptable." Although current teacher evaluation systems have

their faults, at least they are based on what principals see teachers

doing in their classrooms.

Joanne Yatvin


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