Listening to Teachers?

by Robert Pondiscio
May 27th, 2010

If you spend your edublog time on policy blogs rather than teacher blogs, you may have missed out an interesting story that has played out over the past few months, and which may be coming to a head this week.  Last November, Anthony Cody, a veteran science teacher, blogger and Obama supporter, wrote an open letter to the President expressing his frustration with many of the Administration’s policies.  The column soon morphed into what another veteran teacher-blogger, Heather Wolpert-Gawron, described as “a full-on social networking movement.”  A Facebook group (naturally) quickly attracted  2,000 members, eager to weigh in on ed policy as a network of independent teachers.  Letters were sent, polls were taken, and attention paid.  The climax occurred Monday, when 12 teachers including Cody, Wolpert-Gawron, and frequent Core Knowledge Blog commenter Nancy Flanagan were invited to participate in a 30-minute conference call with Ed Secretary Arne Duncan.

The climax was anti-climactic.  Technical problems plagued the call, few got a chance to speak, and the teachers walked away more frustrated than satisfied by their audience with Duncan.  “I want to find positive things to take from what unfolded, but it is challenging,” was Cody’s take on the call.  Flanagan’s synopsis is here.    End of story?  It might have been until yesterday, when Cody’s phone rang. 

It was Arne Duncan calling.

Charm offensive?  Earnest engagement?  Time will tell. Cody & Co. have already done the profession a solid by taking the first steps toward establishing a badly needed back channel for teachers, independent of the unions.


  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Todd Hausman, Russ Goerend. Russ Goerend said: Listening to Teachers? « The Core Knowledge Blog /via @rpondiscio [...]

    Pingback by Tweets that mention Listening to Teachers? « The Core Knowledge Blog, The Core Knowledge Blog -- — May 27, 2010 @ 7:20 pm

  2. “…establishing a badly needed back channel for teachers, independent of the unions.” Independent of the unions is crucial.

    Most teachers go to school every day and perform admirably. Unfortunately, often without consultation of their membership, unions convey many of the wrong messages to the public; whether it’s “more resources for the children” or “smaller class sizes” their droning has worn thin with many public observers. Simply put, they’ve become too predictable and all too self-serving.

    Many consider unions, especially the NEA, THE problem with public education today. RttT has crafted its two primary qualifiers for funds, lifting the cap on charters and linking student test scores to teacher evaluations, in such a way that it would be difficult to construe them as anything except anti-union moves.

    Comment by Paul Hoss — May 28, 2010 @ 12:17 pm

  3. Great post. I found a great non-profit that has been helping disadvantaged school districts and has had many success stories improving student achievement in Math, SAT and ACT including Collier County, FL and St. Landry Parish, LA. Their site is CyberLearning also offers Technology courses that many schools could find useful.

    Comment by Rachel — June 10, 2010 @ 2:35 pm

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