How the Blueprint for Reform Empowers Educators
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Dear Teaching Colleague
This is a tough time to be a teacher. You went into teaching with a great heart and a great passion because you want to make a difference. You work tirelesslynights, weekends, summersto plan lessons, grade papers, serve on committees, attend meetings, coach sports, and perform other duties "as assigned," but too often this work goes unrecognized. You spend your own money on your classrooms and students, and many of your salaries are frozen or cut in tough economic times. I have no doubt that you get dizzy juggling the barrage of mandates in federal, state, district, and school programs, many of which must feel as though they disappear as quickly as they emerge.
In recent years, the federal government hasn't helped solve problems for teachers. The No Child Left Behind Act created incentives for states to lower standards and measure students' skills by using low-quality "bubble tests." The law focused on punitive measures when students didn't reach an absolute standard, yet failed to acknowledge growth.
As I've travelled the country, I've met with thousands of teachers, and I've heard their fears and concerns. Teachers are asking: Are these reforms the Next Big Thing, here today but gone tomorrow? Will they focus on testing in a way that further narrows the curriculum and denies students the great education that we seek to bring? Could we lose our jobs if our students' scores aren't high enough?
In President Obama's Blueprint for Reform of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) we are addressing those concerns and proposing common-sense strategies to move us in the right direction. Many of you have expressed great relief that the Blueprint will fix No Child Left Behind. And teachers have been telling me that they are encouraged, and even energized, by President Obama's vision.
This brochure provides a summary of some of the reasons that teachers I've met tell me they support the president's Blueprint. After reviewing this, I invite you to read the Blueprint and work within your schools and states to support reform in our nation's public schools. With teachers, parents, and schools working together, I'm so encouraged by what's possible.
Thank you for all you do to support our schools, families, and communities.
Secretary of Education