The National Education Association has called for Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's head on a platter. It appears as though the Obama administration is declining to oblige. From Politico:
The NEA adopted the resolution last week at its representative assembly in Denver, where the air was charged with anger and members buzzed with frustration at Duncan and other education reformers — especially their emphasis on high-stakes testing.
The resolution blamed Duncan for a "failed education agenda" consisting of policies that "undermine public schools and colleges, the teaching education professionals, and education unions."
Beyond the typical teacher union efforts to try to block performance evaluations that are tied to testing scores, Politico notes that the origins for the call to Duncan to resign originated from the California Teachers Association and Duncan's response to the recent Vergara v. California ruling. Reason's Brian Doherty noted this decision back in June. A California Superior Court ruled that the state's absurd tenure system—where teachers become pretty much impossible to get rid of after less than two years on the job—damages students' state constitutional right to an education.
Duncan supported the decision as a chance for education reform:
Duncan said the Vergara v. California ruling in June presents an opportunity to set a meaningful bar for teacher tenure. CTA said his stance shows "disrespect for the hard-working educators in our schools" and a "lack of understanding of education law and policy."
"Since the beginning, Duncan's department has been led by graduates of the Broad Academy, Education Trust-West and other organizations determined to scapegoat teachers and their unions," the California group wrote. "Most recently, some of these former Obama administration staffers announced a national campaign attacking educators' rights."
There does seem to be a growing fracture between leading Democrats and teachers unions, which Politico also took note of in June. I interviewed former California legislator Gloria Romero about it in 2013, and the cracks are visible in large urban environments where poorer communities are discovering that entrenched unions are more concerned about protecting their own interests and getting a bigger piece of the budget pie for themselves, while actual students languish in classrooms full of indifferent teachers that can't be removed.
Will this eventually result in a Tea Party-style split on the left between the establishment and Democratic politicians who see where the populist winds are blowing in the actual grassroots? Is it already happening?