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DENVER — The nation's education chief chastised teachers and their bosses in equal measure Tuesday as he launched what the Obama administration is touting as the first-ever national summit between union leaders and administrators.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan told thousands of educators from more than 150 districts in 40 states that the nation's schools are in deep trouble and that bickering among teachers, politicians and administrators is sinking efforts to improve education.
Duncan reminded several hundred educators gathered for the two-day Denver summit that one of four American students fail to complete high school, and that the U.S. is falling behind on college graduation rates.
"Collectively, you have the power to stop our nation's educational demise," Duncan said.
The Obama administration hailed the summit as a fresh start to kick off education overhaul efforts looming in Washington, especially delicate negotiations over how teachers should be paid and evaluated. Participating school districts agreed to send a teacher, an administrator and a school board member to hear presentations from a dozen school districts that recently steered through school overhauls agreed to by all three groups.