Bad Ass teacher stands up to Secretary of Ed, Arne Duncan

Dear Mr. Duncan,
the 2012 National Summit on Educational Reform Breakfast Keynote speech, you
repeated a statistic that you have not substantiated. You once again insulted
this nation’s teachers by referring to them as “the bottom third of all college
graduates”. In the name of transparency and trust, I am demanding that you
provide the name of the study used to make such an outrageous claim. As the
public servant appointed to manage our nation’s educational system, you have
unilaterally created an adversarial relationship between teachers and what
should be their greatest source of support, the U.S. Department of Education.
How long must teachers endure these overt attempts to malign our character? Who
does it serve?
April of 2009, I sat in the White House Rose Garden as you praised me and the
other State Teachers of the Year for our “character, compassion and commitment”
to our children and our profession. You commended our “scholarship” and our
“hardship”.  When you hosted the State
Teachers of the Year at the Department of Education, we were treated as
“valuable assets” to our nation’s children. 
When you sent a film crew to my Louisiana classroom to feature me on one
of your Town Hall Meetings, you characterized me as “a role model” and told the
audience that I was “exactly the kind of teacher needed in every classroom”.
Can this praise and honor come from the same man who then accuses an entire
nation of teachers as unqualified to do their jobs, in spite of verifiable
education, experience and expertise? 
it is because you spend such little time with teachers that you cannot
appreciate their efforts. We had long forgotten our own undergraduate GPA’s. I rarely
think about the college parties I didn’t attend or the hours spent studying
instead of watching or playing sports. I even forgot the sacrifices my parents
made to ensure that I could live out my dream of becoming a teacher, a passion
they nurtured since I was a young girl…until I heard you repeat that
self-serving, fictitious statistic. So I am sending you a copy of my
undergraduate transcripts, just to reassure you that I was indeed in the top
1/3 of my college graduating class. Since scores seem to be the only way we
judge teachers these days, perhaps this document will give you peace of mind
that in one classroom in America, a teacher is there “legitimately” in your
eyes. It is a symbolic gesture that I hope my fellow teachers all across the
country will replicate.
denigrating teachers is enough to reveal your disingenuous character and lack
of integrity to the education community, but you spend little time with us. You
prefer the company of billionaires who are more than willing to do your job for
you. Mr. Duncan, as this nation’s Secretary of Education, you have failed our
children by being an impediment to progress. Public servants, even appointed
ones like you, must engender the public trust, not deter it. Stop impugning the
efforts of exemplary, learned citizens. They deserve your respect…for they must
labor under a leader who reviles them. 

  Deborah Hohn Tonguis                                      



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