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Sharp Themes Emerge from #AskArne Questions

A few days ago I posted an invitation for people to share questions they have for Arne Duncan, in preparation for his Twitter Town Hall meeting on Wednesday, August 24th.

The questions that are emerging are a fascinating glimpse into the debate over our schools. I reviewed questions, and found some themes emerging. Perhaps it might help us be smart participants if we saw some of the big questions that keep coming up. Here are some key ones. Please keep posting and re-tweeting questions on Twitter, and share your favorites in the comments below. And let's pay close attention to how the key questions are addressed next Wednesday.

TeachMoore Renee Moore asks:

Question 1: Why have a Twitter town hall in middle of school day when many teachers can't participate (access or time issues)?

gtoppo Greg Toppo/USA Today asks:

Why, in #education, are people paid more the farther they get from students?

bjhutcheson Brian Hutcheson asks:

How do you evaluate art teachers using student test scores?

stansburyj Jack Stansbury asks:

Instead of imposing your will on the education community, chg Dept. Ed to do ed. research - find out what REALLY works!

janofmi Jan Pardy asks:

Studies refute contribution of merit pay to improve stdent learning based on ths data why continue to support pay for test scres?

clix Clickety Keys asks:

why do u allow the use of VAM in RTTT applications when we know that methodology is sketchy?

clix Clickety Keys asks:

Schools that've incorporated merit pay aren't seeing significant gains - or really, ANY measurable gains. WHY NOT? Doesn't it work?

audhilly audhilly asks:

NCLB is a train wreck, then "choice" of wreck or conditional waiver is govt by blackmail. need legal challenge to exec. power

janofmi Jan Pardy asks:

Why should schls have to compete for $ that should be for all students RTtT bureaucracy cost more than if $ was given to all schls

thefooshshow Richard Fouchaux asks:

Heritage Fndn sz vouchers most viable way to *dismantle* pub #education. Will u unequivcbly take v off table?

@ReginaNavejar asks:

Why does the fed gov allow WI voucher schools to accept tax $ but not kids with special needs?

democracysedge Chana asks:

A majority of scientific studies say that testing regime is damaging, deep learning for understanding best. why do you ignore this?

MaryAnnReilly Mary Ann Reilly asks:

At a time when we know information is unstable, why do you continue to believe in standards as THE organizing force for education?

jillsmo Jill asks:

Can every American opt their kid out of the state tests per Prince V Massachusetts?

JohnAbodeely John Abodeely

Why does the NAEP, when disaggregated, show an almost 1 to 1 correlation between SES and academic success?

matt_fry Matt Fry asks:

Controlling for poverty, US has highest test scores in world. Why not take that message to the public?

tfteacher TheFrustratedTeacher asks:

Why are America's affluent kids No. 1 in the world academically, but our impoverished kids are not? Does poverty play a huge role?

Thanks2Teachers Richard Lakin asks:

Why not institute a "No Unnecessary Testing" Policy rather than pushing programs that TEST kids ad nauseam?

tfteacher TheFrustratedTeacher asks:

Should trad. pub. schools be able to boot misbehaving kids and send them to the neighborhood charter, and keep the $$?

Teacheronthemic Angry Teacher Raps asks:

In ur opinion, why do 50% of urban teachers leave the profession w/in 5yrs? How can we fix this w/o absurd promises of $?


LilyDuster Lily Geffner asks:

How do you think class size affects teaching? Isn't class size is a measurable variable regarding quality of education?

jagrantier Jacob Grantier asks:

Instead of imposing unreasonable and demoralizing mandates can Depts of Ed work more to support schools with meaningful resources?

matt_fry Matt Fry asks:

If you want quality career teachers, why not declare TFA'ers looking for temp. jobs a noble but misguided endeavor?

matt_fry Matt Fry asks:

What does a child more good - a dollar spent on classroom supplies, books or a clean room or a dollar spent on a test?

EdSkeptic The Ed Skeptic asks:

How many cheating scandals will it take to convince #AskArne that high stakes tests create perverse incentives for school leaders?

audhilly audhilly asks:

Please name some education experts that you take counsel from.

janofmi Jan Pardy asks:

Why are teachers missing from panels and discussions when the admin gathers experts on education to discuss improving and reforms

LarrySmith259 Larry Smith asks:

Why don't you follow any teachers on Twitter?

The last three questions bring to mind a thought that occurred to me after a group of teacher activists I was part of held a phone conference with Secretary Duncan more than a year ago, at which time many of these same concerns were raised. I wrote the day after the phone call, that,

The funny thing about the conversation was that the whole time, they seemed to think we had questions, and their job was to answer them. We had actually approached the conversation from a different place. We thought perhaps they might want to ask US questions, or hear our ideas about how to improve schools.

As interested as I am in hearing how Secretary Duncan responds to these tough questions, a much more productive conversation still awaits, when he and the administration realize they do not have all the answers, and start to ask teachers, parents and students, rather than business leaders, how we ought to improve our schools.

What do you think about the questions that are emerging for Secretary Duncan's Twitter town hall? What question would you most like to have him answer? What would you like to tell him about your school?

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