Entries in Arne Duncan (3)


Pre-Sequester Pink Slips? Duncan Stretches Impact on Teachers

Paul Morigi/WireImage(WASHINGTON) -- At the White House Wednesday, Education Secretary Arne Duncan sounded the alarm over looming automatic cuts to the nation’s school system, warning that as many as 40,000 teachers could lose their jobs with some layoffs already under way.

It’s an eye-opening claim, but one not entirely supported by facts.

“Over the next, you know, month or two, you’ll see lots of pink slips go out,” Duncan said.  “That’s starting,” he added, “it’s still really early on.”

The secretary told reporters Wednesday that in “a couple districts,” including Kanawha County, W.Va., Title I and Head Start teachers have already received the bad news that they will be out of work.  It’s a claim he first made publicly Sunday on CBS’ Face the Nation.

“There are literally teachers now who are getting pink slips, who are getting notices that they can’t come back this fall,” he said at the time.

Experts agree that widespread teacher layoffs could eventually become reality if the package of deep spending cuts known as sequester is allowed to hold. But they say there are not many signs a wave of pink slips has begun.

Kanawha County officials told ABC News that no pink slips have been issued this year because of budgetary issues or the sequester, and that no contingency plans have been drawn up in case the automatic cuts do take hold.

“We’re just waiting to hear whether these cuts go through and how much money we’ll lose,” said one administrator, who asked not to be identified.

Pam Padon, director of federal programs and Title I for Kanawha County public schools, told the Washington Post that “transfer notices” were sent to 104 teachers, informing them that they may have a new assignment starting next fall, and that some of those transfers could ultimately mean several people lose their jobs.

County officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to ABC News, confirmed the report, but said that those notices were not considered layoffs or pink slips and have nothing to do with sequestration.

The American Association of School Administrators has offered a similar assessment of the current state of play, saying it knows of no sequester-related layoffs among its members. The full scope of necessary layoffs won’t be known until local districts assess the budgetary damage from sequester, if it takes effect, and develop plans for the coming school year, officials have said.

A spokesman for the Education Department did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment on the secretary’s claims. Duncan did qualify his active-layoffs claim with this:  “Whether it’s all sequester-related, I don’t know. But there are teachers who are getting pink slips now.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Education Secretary Arne Duncan Endorses Same-Sex Marriage

US Dept of Education(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of Education Arne Duncan endorsed same-sex marriage Monday morning on MSNBC’s Morning Joe

When asked whether he thought same-sex couples should have the legal right to marry, Duncan said simply, “Yes.  I do.”

The news comes on the heels of Vice President Joe Biden’s comments on gay marriage on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday.

“I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women and heterosexual men marrying women are entitled to the same exact rights,” Biden said.  “All the civil rights, all the civil liberties.”

Following his comments, Biden’s office was perceived to be walking the remarks back on Sunday, stating that “the vice president was saying what the president has said previously.”

The Obama campaign also responded, claiming that Biden had made no news on administration policy.  David Axelrod tweeted: “What VP said-that all married couples should have exactly the same legal rights-is precisely POTUS’s position.”

The president has described his position on gay marriage as “evolving,” but administration policy has not endorsed the legal right to gay marriage.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Teachers' Union Endorses Obama, Despite Being 'Appalled' By His Policies

Kevin Lock/National Education Association(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama seems to have a love-hate relationship with the nation's largest teacher's union.

On Monday, the National Education Association endorsed Obama in 2012 -- long before his Republican opponent has even been selected.  But the vote of confidence comes in spite of the fact that educators are less than thrilled with the president's efforts to reform education.

Two days before endorsing the president, the NEA passed a resolution outlining 13 areas where the union adamantly disagrees with the policies of Obama's education secretary, Arne Duncan.

The NEA letter states that educators are "appalled" by Duncan's emphasis on competitive grants, standardized testing and one-size-fits-all policies.

NEA President Dennis Van Roekel said the disagreements that exist between the union and the president are merely about process, not about ideology.

"Where we are totally in sync is in our vision for America," Van Roekel said.  "I don't mind fighting like crazy with this administration on how to get there, but what I don't want to do is fight a system that has a different vision of education," referring to the Republican party.

But not all NEA members agree.

Dennis Kelly, who attended the conference as the president of the United Educators of San Francisco, said he was "extraordinarily disappointed" with the Department of Education under Duncan.

While he still plans to vote for Obama in 2012, Kelly said he did not expect to see any positive changes in education if the president is re-elected.  He said programs like Race to the Top, a competitive grant program in which school districts compete for federal funds, unfairly creates winners and losers, giving many educators a "deep sense of being cheated."

Democrats have traditionally not had a hard time garnering support from the education community. The NEA has never endorsed a Republican and contributes 10 times as much money to Democrats' campaigns as Republicans.

But this year's endorsement passed by one of the narrowest margins Kelly has seen in years, he said, with 28 percent of the assembly voting against supporting the president.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio