Duncan tells schools how to assign teachers

Uncle Sam shouldn’t try to manage school staffing, writes Rick Hess.

The Obama administration has used its Race to the Top program and unprecedented, far-reaching conditions for states seeking “waivers” from the No Child Left Behind Act’s most destructive requirements as excuses to micromanage what states are doing on teacher evaluation, school turnarounds, and much else. In a new, particularly troubling twist, the administration has announced that states will henceforth have to ensure that “effective” teachers are distributed in a manner Uncle Sam deems equitable.

Arne Duncan, who’s not the school superintendent for the U.S., wants to staff high-poverty schools with more effective teachers, writes Hess. That’s a worthy goal, but it shouldn’t be dictated from Washington.

 Ill-conceived policies might move teachers from schools and classrooms where they are effective to situations when they are less effective. Heavy-handed efforts to reallocate teachers could drive good teachers from the profession. And we are far less able to identify “effective” teachers in any cookie-cutter fashion than federal officials might think.

Some teachers who are effective with easy-to-teach students aren’t effective with hard-to-teach students, Hess points out.

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  1. GEORGE LARSON says:

    Wouldn’t this violate collective bargaining agreements that schools have with their teachers? It might encourage some teachers to be perceived as less effective. Read the Peter Principal and practice creative incompetence.

    • I wonder how many “highly effective” teachers that are forced to low performing schools would move to another district/county/state, or retire/resign.

      • I agree that many teachers who seem highly effective where they are won’t teach in really challenging schools, but if we end up identifying and rewarding teachers who are highly effective in high poverty schools, something positive could come of all this.

        • You start off as a rookie teacher in a horrible school district (the ‘ghetto’). You work hard, earn your way up, and in time you get to teach in the nice school districts (suburbia). To punish you for doing well by forcing you back to where you don’t want to be? That’s 21st Century slavery.

        • Unless the offer was off the charts (i.e. $100,000 a year to teach in this ‘ghetto’ school vs. $40,000 a year to teach in this nice school district) I bet most teachers would rather resign than get punished for doing well in such a manner… Talk about unintended consequences!

  2. Right now, urban and suburban districts are separate entities, but this administration is a strong supporter of “regionalism”, wherein the region can take funds from the suburbs and funnel it to the city and can regulate attendance and staffing patterns It’s already in progress – the funding issue has been in place for over a decade, and city kids can attend suburban schools – in the Twin Cities area. Schools are a big, fat target for the social engineers.

  3. Give me one, just one example of a genuinely effective teacher in a failing school. Most who are there are simply treading water ticking off the time to retirement. The major deficit in these schools is the LACK of DISCIPLINE!!! Simply having a uniform dress code, that is NOT enforced -shirts not tucked in and sagging pants, – does little to change the CULTURE of the school.

    These are the nightmares that every reasonable thinking individual simply avoids by finding a position in the suburbs or a charter school.