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Education Secretary Duncan Urges School Leaders to Go Easy on Arts Ed Cuts

Last week Secretary of Education Arne Duncan sent a letter and three policy letters to the Governors:

Key Policy Letters to The Governors, March 3, 2011

What you will find most interesting comes from the document Smart Ideas to Increase Educational Productivity and Student Achievement:

First, Do No Harm

Changes or cuts to education budgets, especially during periods of
fiscal austerity, carry risks of unintended consequences.  Governors, policymakers, and educators can: 


ü  Avoid short-sighted cost-cutting.  Efforts to
increase productivity should not be mistaken for the short-sighted cost-cutting
many states and districts have engaged in over the years to reduce education
spending.  Even in an era of tight
budgets, cutting back in a manner that damages educational quality and hurts
children is the wrong thing to do
.  Short-sighted
cuts include:  reducing the number of
days in the school year, decreasing the amount of instructional time,
eliminating instruction in the arts and foreign languages, eliminating high-quality
early learning programs, abandoning promising reforms, and indiscriminately

laying off talented teachers be they new, mid-career, or veteran
.  Decision-makers should be able to take
advantage of other options for cost-saving before resorting to such potentially
harmful approaches.  Only some of these
decisions will be made at the state level, but governors and other state
policymakers can provide districts and schools with guidance, incentives, and
flexibility to make necessary cuts in ways that put student learning first.



  1. Secretary Duncan’s words are all well and good, and I’m glad that he’s urging state governments to use incentives to preserve programs. But where are the incentives on the federal level? Once again, the Obama administration talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk.

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