Duncan holds a teacher Q&A

Eileen Duffey , school nurse at the Academy at Palumbo, protests Education Secretary Arne Duncan's visit as he is driven away after speaking at a teachers' conference. VIVIANA PERNOT / Staff Photographer
Eileen Duffey , school nurse at the Academy at Palumbo, protests Education Secretary Arne Duncan's visit as he is driven away after speaking at a teachers' conference. VIVIANA PERNOT / Staff Photographer
Posted: July 13, 2014

In an attempt to bridge the divide between teachers and lawmakers, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan posed questions to a group of educators in Center City on Friday while a few protesters gathered outside.

Duncan, speaking before more than 120 members of the National Network of State Teachers of the Year at their conference at the Hilton DoubleTree Hotel, first addressed the city's education budget crisis.

"First of all, I want to say one quick thing about the budget issues here in Philadelphia," he said. "This school system is being starved - the cuts here are incomprehensible."

Duncan then discussed the high costs of attending college and the need to increase funding for early education - sentiments that the teachers applauded.

"As a nation, we rank 28th relative to other industrialized nations in early education," he said. "That's not a thing to be proud of."

With that, the secretary began an question-and-answer session that allowed teachers to give their thoughts on what could be done to improve the nation's schools, particularly in working-class areas.

Lea Wainwright, a teacher of the year from Delaware, suggested financial incentives, such as housing stipends and "things to support quality of life," for teachers in underprivileged areas.

Ashli Skura-Dreher, a New York teacher of the year, agreed, adding that early learning and community outreach were also important.

The group later discussed ways lawmakers could better use teacher expertise. A New Jersey state teacher of the year told Duncan about a panel of teachers and other officials that her state used to evaluate the adoption of the Common Core State Standards last year.

While this was going inside the hotel, a dozen teachers from another group, the Caucus of Working Educators, gathered outside to protest Duncan's support of standardized tests.

"We are protesting the high-stakes testing that are a part of this 'Race to the Top' [grant] damaging our schools," said Academy at Palumbo nurse Eileen Duffey, who held a poster that read, "School nurse says 'no' to Arne Duncan's high-stakes test."

Another woman held a sign that simply read, "Go home, Arne."


LONeal@phillynews.com

215-854-2619 @LydsONeal

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|