WASHINGTON—Statement by American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s resignation announcement:
“We wish Arne Duncan only the best. When President Obama and Arne Duncan came into office, we were in the midst of a great recession. We are grateful for the stimulus money we all fought for because it provided a crucial lifeline to schools throughout the country suffering from crippling austerity and budget cuts. We also want to acknowledge the work to lower student debt, protect students from predatory practices by for-profit colleges, provide equity for low-income children, expand early childhood education and highlight the importance of teacher leadership and career and technical education.
“At the same time, there’s no question that the Department of Education’s fixation on charters and high-stakes testing has not worked. Deep public discontent, parental anger, teacher demoralization and the teacher shortage have their roots in the misuse of testing. Equally concerning is the move at the department and in cities like Chicago, Los Angeles and Philadelphia to once again squeeze out or close many public schools and replace them with charters, an approach that is becoming the new silver bullet. That’s why we are disappointed to hear that Deputy Secretary of Education John King Jr. will be appointed as the acting secretary. No one doubts John’s commitment to children, but his tenure as New York state’s education commissioner created so much polarization in the state with parents and educators alike that even Gov. Andrew Cuomo is finally doing a mea culpa over the obsession with testing. We can only hope that King has learned a thing or two since his tenure in New York.”