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Monday, January 27, 2014

Arne Duncan, the world’s worst secretary of education, make that human being

Arne “I never taught a day in my life” Duncan somehow parlayed a jump shot into the secretary of education position.  There he championed making education into a game with his and President Obama’s Race to the Top (RTTT) initiative which black mailed cash strapped states into giving up local control to the federal government for what basically amount to pennies. Not satisfied with that or championing the corporate takeover of our schools he has proceeded to insult everyone from soccer moms; who according to him their children aren’t as smart as they thought they were, to teachers who according to him come from the bottom of the academic barrel. He never met a high stakes standardized test he didn’t like or think was too much, and if you think all that is bad you should read what he said just this past weekend. Arne Duncan is undoubtedly the worst secretary of education human being ever.

The master of hyperbole he started his editorial rant in the Washington Post praising international tests, that experts say shouldn’t be used to make policy decisions but then despite improvements said it was a “national failure to make nearly enough progress to keep up with our competitors.” He then went on to ignore poverty, praise common core which will undoubtedly make his inevitable future employer Pearson billions, odious teacher evaluations that have only proved effective in driving teachers out of the profession, Tennessee which leads the nation in schools that teach creationism and Washington DC which in the wake of the Rhee cheating inspired scandals has more than a few questions to answer.

In short he ignored the biggest problem that education has, to many kids living in poverty and praised just about all that is wrong in the system and this despite him being our supposed nation’s top teacher. His logic is so flawed it is embarrassing. He implied lifelong educators, people who have dedicated themselves to children are nothing but a pack of liars presumably doing so to keep their opulent lifestyles intact.

He wrote: There are important lessons here. What these two places (Tennessee and Washington DC)  also had in common was a succession of leaders who told educators, parents and the public the truth about educational underperformance and who worked closely with educators to bring about real changes. They pushed hard to raise expectations for students, even though a lower bar would have made everyone look better. And they remained committed to doing the right thing for children, even when it meant crossing partisan lines or challenging ideological orthodoxy.

Rather than address our problems and support our teachers, Mr. Duncan would prefer to blame them and double down on testing and the two localities he points to as success have both been wracked by cheating scandals and one teaches non-science as science in just about all of its schools.

Finally perhaps the most despicable in his litany of despicable was when he mentioned courage. How it takes courage to demand more from teachers and systems. Despite his flowery rhetoric what he was really saying is he thinks it takes courage to double down on testing which is becoming increasingly unpopular and to drive lifelong educators out of the field or to make it borderline unbearable for those that remain.  

You know who has courage? Teachers, saddled with first No Child Left Behind and then RTTT, devoid of proper resources because school districts have to spend so much money of testing, working in a system that ignores poverty, that is who. They do the best they can with what they have, often put in situations where success is at best elusive, spending their own money on the basics and leaving their own children in front of the TV so they can take home mountains of work.  The truth, something Arne Duncan wouldn’t recognize if it sat on his lap is the only thing teachers are really guilty of is while being set up to fail, not being able to overcome the dehabilitating effects of poverty and they have more courage in their little fingers than Duncan, the nations Bully in Chief can imagine .

How does this guy, who once again never taught a day in his life, have a job in education again? Oh that’s right because he can play basketball.

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