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Arne Duncan's Against Seniority-Based Teacher Layoffs

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan wants to change the policy of firing the teachers who've been in the job for the shortest time first.


With draconian cuts looming for state education budgets, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan wants the nation's governors to be clear: Those cuts can't hurt the quality of education children receive. To that end, when it comes to the tough decisions about laying off teachers, Duncan says the days of a last-in-first-out (LIFO) policy of layoffs are over. Instead, student achievement results need to determine which teachers get the axe.

In a conference call with reporters, Duncan denied that he's "danced around the issue" and said that labor and management have a shared responsibility to put students at the center of their relationship. And, if budgets require teachers to be fired, "Layoffs should be based on a number of factors but the most important thing we can do is keep the best teachers in schools where they are needed most."

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Hey, Young People: Arne Duncan Wants to Answer Your Education Questions

A new youth-oriented contest is taking questions for the man in charge of American education policy. Have one? Get to asking!


The hashtag #askstudents is trending on Twitter today, and it's a reminder that the ideas and questions of today's youth need to be included in the conversation about how best to improve education. Fortunately, an exciting open-source democracy contest being run by national youth news site SparkAction! wants to put young people's questions in front of the man in charge of American education policy, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

The contest is being held in conjunction with the upcoming U.S. Department of Education National Youth Summit which takes place in Washington, D.C., on February 26, 2011. The summit theme centers around one central question: How can we meet President Obama's goal of leading the world in college completion by 2020? Summit registration filled up in 48 hours, but through the contest, young people across the country can still make their voices heard.

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Obama's Education Budget Is on the Right Track. Too Bad Congress Won't Approve It

Obama's new budget proposes spending where it matters most: PELL grants, teacher training, and science and math education. If only it could pass.


President Obama unveiled his entire fiscal year 2012 budget yesterday at Parkville Middle School and Center of Technology in Baltimore, Maryland, and his proposed $77.4 billion in education spending—a 4 percent increase from 2010, the most recent budget enacted—bucks the national trend of defunding education. It's not a perfect budget, but Obama's committing to spending where it matters most: PELL grants, teacher and principal recruitment and training, and science, technology, engineering and math education.

In a post-budget-reveal conference call with reporters, Education Secretary Arne Duncan acknowledged that announcing the budget in a technology school was deliberate and reflects the laser-like focus the Obama Administration has on STEM education. Duncan said a big part of increasing the number of STEM educators nationwide will depend on funding the development of alternative certification programs that will make it easier for qualified professionals to head into the classroom. He also hopes to incentivize excellence in teaching by awarding grants to high performing STEM teachers.

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Results at Arne Duncan's First Chicago Turnaround School Raise Efficacy and Legal Questions

Arne Duncan believes in "turnaround" schools, but are they effective, and are they legal?

Does Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's "turnaround" school-reform model work? News from one of Duncan's first turnaround schools, William T. Sherman Elementary in Chicago, is mixed. Yes, test scores are up, and that's a good thing for the 591-student elementary in the city's violence-plagued Englewood neighborhood. The bad news? It took five years to see results, and the scores still aren't as high as the average Chicago public school.

Duncan ordered a turnaround plan for Sherman back in 2006 when he was still Chicago's superintendent of schools. Sherman was the first campus placed under the jurisdiction of what was at the time a new non-profit turnaround organization, the Academy for Urban School Leadership. As an AUSL turnaround school, Sherman gave students renovated facilities, a new curriculum, and an entirely new staff—new principals, new teachers, even new custodians.

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