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School leaders’ manifesto hits poor teaching

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

Sixteen Fifteen heads of school districts, including Philadelphia Superintendent Arlene Ackerman, weigh in forcefully on current education debates in a statement in Sunday’s Washington Post, titled "How to fix our schools: A manifesto by Joel Klein, Michelle Rhee and other education leaders."

Their statement emphasizes the need to address poorly performing teachers, arguing that the failure to remove incompetent teachers "has robbed millions of children of a real future."

They also urge "having the courage to replace or substantially restructure persistently low-performing schools" and suggest that the number of slots in charter schools should not be limited.

The authors point to signs of a growing national debate on education policy, citing the film "Waiting for ‘Superman’" and the recent DC mayoral election.

Indeed the manifesto has already provoked several strong responses from educators.

The Washington Post’s "Answer Sheet" blog reports that New York Chancellor Klein and DC Chancellor Rhee initiated the manifesto, which was then circulated by Michael Casserly of the Council of the Great City Schools.

UPDATE: Superintendent Ackerman asked for her name to be removed from the op-ed.

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