Entries in Teachers (5)


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


Obama's Education Policies on Test in Chicago

Scott Olson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The teacher's strike in Chicago has the potential to become a big GOP talking point on the campaign trail if it continues to drag on.

Why?  The obvious reason is the close connection Obama has with Chicago.  The windy city is where his campaign is headquartered, and the mayor at odds with the teachers union is Obama's former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel.

But there's another reason as well; the strike highlights a long simmering riff between the Obama administration's policies with regards to education, and one of the Democrats' biggest support groups -- the unions.

At the heart of the teacher's strike -- the first in Chicago in 25 years -- are several issues that have become hot-button topics in the world of education in recent years.

First and foremost, there is an argument about a new teachers evaluation system, which would make student's standardized test scores a big part of teacher evaluations.  Higher test scores for their class equals a better evaluation for the teacher.  The Chicago Teachers Union argues that this system is not a good way to measure a teacher's performance.

"This is no way to measure the effectiveness of an educator," the Chicago Teachers Union wrote in a press release on Sunday.  "Further there are too many factors beyond our control which impact how well some students perform on standardized tests such as poverty, exposure to violence, homelessness, hunger and other social issues beyond our control."

Emanuel has argued that the evaluation system was designed by teachers, saying, "The evaluation is designed by our teachers, for our teachers, and will be revised by our teachers."

Then, there are the arguments about job security, and benefits. On job security, the teachers union is pushing for a system to re-hire teachers who have previously been laid-off because of school closings when new jobs become available.  

On salary and benefits, the school district has offered a 16 percent raise over four years.  Chicago Teachers' Union president Karen Lewis has said that the CTU and the Chicago Public School's board are "not far apart on compensation" --  but there is still a debate over benefits.

The other lingering issue is an argument over a longer school day.  Emanuel has been pushing for a longer school day since before he was elected mayor, and several weeks before the strike the union and the Chicago Public Schools reached an agreement to hire upwards of 500 new teachers to accommodate the longer day without making teacher's work for longer hours. However, there is still anger between the two sides about the issue, and how it was handled.

Although the nation's largest education unions -- the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association -- have both endorsed Obama, his administration has not always seen eye to eye with the unions in this area.

The most talked-about part of the Obama administration's education policy is the Race to the Top program, a grant program funded by money from the stimulus which rewards states that are reforming their education systems.  Grants are awarded based on a series of criteria, including factoring standardized test scores into teacher evaluations.

Obama has also supported the expansion of charter schools, another policy point where he's differed from the teachers unions, as charter schools tend to hire non-union teachers.

The Obama administration has so far stayed silent on the story, but their silence has a political shelf life, and if the strike does continue, at a certain point, Obama will likely have to address the situation.  Until then, expect his Republican opponents to drop the strike into conversation with some frequency.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Romney Calls on Obama to ‘Stand Up’ for Chicago Kids in Light of Teacher Strike

Saul Loeb/AFP/J.D. Pooley/GettyImages(LAKE FOREST, Ill.) -- Mitt Romney Monday night called on President Obama to take a stand on the Chicago Teacher’s Union strike, which is about to enter its second day in which 400,000 students will be shut out of classes. The candidate took a break from a high-dollar fundraiser to criticize the president.

“Well, I think the president ought to stand up and say we that we ought to put the kids first in this country and the teacher’s union goes behind,” Romney said during a radio interview Monday night. “Look I think we’ve gotta help the kids, help their parents, help the teachers, but the teacher’s union is opposed to many of the reforms in education that we know are critical to the success of our kids.”

Obama did not make a public statement or issue a statement on the strike Monday, but White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters during a briefing that Obama had “not expressed any opinion or made any assessment” about the strike and that the White House believes that the entities involved in the dispute “can and should work it out.”

“I haven’t had that discussion with either [Education] Secretary [Arne] Duncan or the president,” Carney said. “I think that we believe that both sides ought to -- and we hope they do -- resolve this in a way that recognizes that it is the interest of Chicago’s children that must be preeminent as they work it out. But I don’t have any predictions for where it’s going to go. We just simply hope that it gets resolved.

“I can tell you that this president has pursued an education policy that has been a notable success, and a notable bipartisan success, under the president’s and Secretary Duncan’s leadership,” Carney said. “And he’ll continue to do that because he believes, as he says frequently, that investing in education now pays enormous economic dividends later. It is integral to our economic future, and that’s why he’s made it such an important part of his domestic policy agenda.”

But Monday night Romney used the opportunity to tout his own talking points on education, saying that the standards for students have to be raised in the United States and called on teachers to face evaluations that would reward them “for doing an excellent job” and would “make sure teachers are also given an opportunity to be evaluated based upon the capabilities of their students.”

“Look, we know what it takes to fix our schools and this strike in Chicago is a setting where I think you need to stand up and say look, I’m with the kids and I’m with their parents and I’m not with the teacher union,” said Romney, who has been a fierce critic of teacher’s unions, in May dubbing the group “the clearest example of a group that has lost its way.”

Romney did not campaign in Illinois, but opened up the arrival of his charter flight to the local press before heading to a suburban fundraiser that local reports estimate will raise $3 million for Romney’s campaign.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Paul Ryan on Chicago Teachers’ Strike: ‘We Stand with Mayor Rahm Emanuel’

Win McNamee/Getty Images(PORTLAND, Ore.) -- Paul Ryan crossed party lines and voiced support for one of President Obama’s biggest backers Monday, saying, “We stand with Mayor Rahm Emanuel” in his fight with Chicago’s teachers, which led the union to call the city’s first teachers’ strike in 25 years.

“If you turned on the TV this morning or sometime today, you probably saw something about the Chicago teacher’s union strike,” Ryan said at fundraiser at the Governor Hotel in Portland, Ore. “I’ve known Rahm Emanuel for years. He’s a former colleague of mine. Rahm and I have not agreed on every issue or on a lot of issues, but Mayor Emanuel is right today in saying that this teacher’s union strike is unnecessary and wrong. We know that Rahm is not going to support our campaign, but on this issue and this day we stand with Mayor Rahm Emanuel.”

Emanuel is not only the Democratic mayor of the third largest city, he’s also President Obama’s former chief of staff and one of his most visible supporters. Ryan went on to ask the group of about 200 donors where the president stands on the strike.

“We stand with the children and we stand with the families and the parents of Chicago because education reform, that’s a bipartisan issue,” Ryan continued. “This does not have to divide the two parties. And so, we were going to ask, where does President Obama stand? Does he stand with his former Chief of Staff Mayor Rahm Emanuel, with the children and the parents, or does he stand with the union? On issues like this, we need to speak out and be really clear.”

Ryan said in a Romney administration they will “not be ambiguous.”

“We will stand with education reform, we will champion bipartisan education reforms,” Ryan said. “This is a critical linchpin to the future of our country, to our economy, to make sure that our children go to the best possible school, and that education reforms revolve around the parents and the child, not the special interest group.  This is something that’s critical for all of us.”

In Ohio Monday, Romney did not voice his support for the Democratic mayor of the city as Ryan did, but did say that students should have the “skills they need,” which means the end to the strike.

“I want our kids to have the skills they need for the jobs of tomorrow and that means put our kids first and put the teachers union behind,” he said.

Ryan’s comments were made off-camera in front of donors who paid between $1,000 and $25,000 to be there, but when asked about the strike before he took off on his campaign plane from Portland to attend more fundraisers in Seattle he declined to repeat the comments.

The candidate instead returned to the front of the plane, away from the cameras, after thanking reporters who had brought doughnuts for those taking the flight.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Unveils Corps to Recognize Top Math, Science Teachers

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/GettyImages(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama on Wednesday is announcing a plan to create a “Master Teacher Corps” to recognize outstanding math and science teachers and incentivize educators to enter the field.

“If America is going to compete for the jobs and industries of tomorrow, we need to make sure our children are getting the best education possible.  Teachers matter, and great teachers deserve our support,” Obama said in a written statement.

The president hopes to use $1 billion from his 2013 budget request -- currently before Congress -- to gather the best and brightest math and science teachers from across the country.  The corps would start with 50 teachers and expand over four years to include 10,000 “Master Teachers.”

Members of the corps would be chosen through a competitive process and, in exchange for their expertise and service, would receive a stipend of up to $20,000 on top of their regular salaries.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio