The nation’s largest teachers’ union wants Education Secretary Arne Duncan to quit.
Delegates of the National Education Association adopted a business item July 4 at its annual convention in Denver that called for his resignation. The vote underscores the long-standing tension between the Obama administration and teachers’ unions — historically a steadfast Democratic ally.
A tipping point for some members was Duncan’s statement last month in support of a California judge’s ruling that struck down tenure and other job protections for the state’s public school teachers. In harsh wording, the judge said such laws harm particularly low-income students by saddling them with bad teachers who are almost impossible to fire.
Even before that, teachers’ unions have clashed with the administration over other issues ranging from its support of charter schools to its push to use student test scores as part of evaluating teachers.
The vote is a “venting of frustration of too many things that are wrong,” said Dennis Van Roekel, the outgoing president of NEA. He said it wasn’t directed at Duncan personally, but was about teachers wanting what is best for students.
This is a big deal. Duncan took a bold stance against both the State of California and a number of teachers’ unions with his statement supporting that ruling. Now he’s lost their support entirely.