Teachers Union Calls for Education Secretary's Resignation

Image: Teachers Union Calls for Education Secretary's Resignation Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

Tuesday, 08 Jul 2014 10:35 AM

By Andrea Billups

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The nation's largest teachers' union has called for the U.S. education secretary to step down, marking a growing rift with the education group and the Obama administration.

In its annual meeting over the Fourth of July weekend, the National Education Association passed a resolution calling on Arne Duncan to resign, citing his support of a recent Supreme Court decision, which weakened teacher tenure, as well as an ongoing federal focus on testing, support for charter schools and demand for accountability, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The 3 million-member union has traditionally supported Democratic causes and leadership in Washington.

The NEA's outgoing president, Dennis Van Roekel, in his final address to the union at its meeting in Denver called out the administration's "failed education agenda," Politico reported. He said Duncan's policies "undermine public schools and colleges, the teaching education professionals, and education unions."

Duncan, 49, a former Chicago Public Schools CEO who has served in the Obama administration since 2009, did not respond directly to the NEA's request.

"Secretary Duncan looks forward to continuing to work with NEA and its new leadership," education department spokeswoman Dorie Nolt told Politico.

The union had endorsed Obama's election as president and his re-election bid in 2008, The Washington Post reported.

But the administration's fall from favor with teachers was evident as President Barack Obama offered a speech to the group via video and received withering applause, according to Politico.

Van Roekel said in his remarks that teachers were angered at being scrutinized and attacked in the name of education reform, a climate he said began under former President George W. Bush.

"We are all impacted and demoralized by these attacks," he said. "And your feelings are totally justified. I mean, really, 12 years is plenty long enough to evaluate their strategy of mandatory testing and test-based accountability."


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