A coalition of teachers from public and private schools — including the school that Education Secretary Arne Duncan attended as a child and where President Obama’s daughters were enrolled before they moved to Washington — are releasing an open letter to Duncan expressing concerns about department policies that they say promote the overuse of standardized tests, the Washington Post reports. Among the signees are teachers from the Ariel Community Academy, a public school that was founded by a team of people that included Duncan. The letter is being released the same day that President Obama is speaking in Chicago about his second-term policy initiatives, including a push for gun control. That appeal has special resonance in the city, which had more than 500 homicides last year and is reeling from the shooting of a star teen student just after she had performed with her band on Obama’s inaugural ceremonies in Washington D.C. Duncan attended her funeral last week, along with First Lady Michelle Obama…

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staff and wire services reports