Much rejoicing took place Friday when it was first announced that Arne Duncan was leaving the Obama administration early. Social media was a-buzz poking fun at the Secretary of Education who will now ride into the sunset to make money likely in the private sector, probably with something having to do with children. When you grow up around teachers it gives you a warm spot in your heart (sarcasm).
Perhaps he will work in President Obama’s future Presidential Center giving us his take on education matters from time to time—like Margaret “NCLB” Spellings sits cloistered in President G.W. Bush’s special place.
Or he might be like President Bush’s other ed. secretary Rod “NCLB” Paige, remember him? He was the guy who likened teachers to terrorists. He sits on the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation’s board, Eli Broad’s board too, and has done a bunch of serious periphery education stuff to foster privatization and make money. Here’s his Bio.
Maybe Arne could become Dean Duncan at the Relay Graduate School of Education—or even a real university president! The possibilities are endless for the guy who thinks soccer moms dote too much on their children, or that Katrina helped fix schools in New Orleans.
And, of course, there is Duncan’s coordinated and backed-up push for all children with disabilities to take regular tests. Who can forget that?
Friday’s rejoicing came to a halt when we learned that John B. King, Jr., New York’s controversial past education commissioner who has a better college of education pedigree than Duncan, but whose success comes from running charter schools in Boston and beyond, and who was involved in discipline-heavy Uncommon Schools, will step into Duncan’s role.
Dr. King loves Common Core too…we know that for sure.
The President is giving King the position but not the title to avoid a showdown with Republicans who would rather not have anyone running education.
Still, we all lament, how could this happen? King is no friend to teachers or parents and he stands for everything reform. One can see privatization around every corner.
Well, why wouldn’t the President select King?
Why would we, at this time, expect anything otherwise from President Obama whose administration has lifted the caps on charter schools, championed Common Core State Standards, and pushed to dismantle special education? Nothing has been done to change the high-stakes testing climate, and no one has lifted a finger to fight for real teachers. And they haven’t pushed for realistic age-appropriate programs for early childhood education either!
Race to the Top has been nothing more than a competitive, funding grab bag for all the wrong things!
For Democrats and perhaps some Republicans, maybe the “hope and change” came somewhere else in the Obama Presidency, but like every other President since Ronald Reagan, it wasn’t in education.
Did we really think Duncan’s leaving would bring something different to Washington?
Education reform started years ago and has been etched into the fabric of society. Politicians and business people are now in charge of education and they are moving quickly to make school privatization a reality.
It doesn’t matter who is steering the ship, since it is following the same directions programmed into the GPS years ago.
I echo the fears of some that we at least had grown accustomed to Arne Duncan—we knew where he was coming from and nothing much he did surprised us, though at times outrageous. But King who ruled so stubbornly and who seems to have been run out of the State of New York, I’m not so sure about.
But it doesn’t matter, because all of this is a revolving door. Whoever is in charge will do what they are told by the big boys at the top—the billionaire boys club as Diane Ravitch calls them.
You could put Deborah Gist, John White, Chris Barbic, or most any of the State Heads off of Eli Broad’s Academy list in that ed. secretary position and it would be no different.
The goal is the same!
The robots go in, they’re told what to do, and when they leave they’ve pushed the system a little closer to what we all dread.
We should still be concerned—just not surprised.
New Material added to my Website:
The Washington Teacher is out of Washington D.C. and written by Candi Peterson. It covers a variety of education topics involving social justice, school politics, and labor. I appreciate the section “Save Our Counselors.” School guidance counselor positions are threatened just like teaching. The posts here are candid and well-written.