"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Arne Duncan: "Privatizer, Union Buster, and Corporate Stooge"

Libby Quaid has been moved over at the AP from the ag desk to the ed desk, and she appears ready to take on the mantle of Ben Feller as the mouthpiece for the Business Roundtable on all things "educational." Yesterday Libby had this story on the current big biz favorite for Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, who is painted here as the "post-partisan" candidate:

. . . One candidate might fit the bill — Chicago schools chief Arne Duncan, who has spent seven years running the country's third-largest school district.

Duncan is friendly with the president-elect, playing pickup basketball as well as touring schools with the former Illinois senator and fellow Harvard alumnus. Duncan visited Washington last week, stopping for coffee with outgoing Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, but he said the visit was purely social and had nothing to do with the Obama transition.

Like Obama, Duncan has straddled both education factions, signing manifestos from each side earlier this year.

The reform group likes Duncan's work in Chicago, where he has focused on improving struggling schools, closing those that fail and getting better teachers.

And unlike Klein or Washington schools chief Michelle Rhee, Duncan has managed to avoid alienating the teachers' unions. . . .

I was about to email George Schmidt with this to get his take, when George posted this letter at ARN on the essential lie contained in Quaid's story. Posted with permission:

Colleagues and friends:

To portray Arne Duncan as anything other than a privatizer, union buster, and corporate stooge is to simply lie.

Randi Weingarten knows that there is open rebellion within the Chicago Teachers Union because Randi's local president, Marilyn Stewart, has allowed the union to go bankrupt (by corrupt spending on herself and her staff, rivalling that of the former leaders of the Washington, D.C. union) and become disgraced by collaboration with Arne Duncan. Last February, when Duncan moved to close a half dozen schools (on various pretexts, most to slip them to charter schools as part of Chicago's privatization juggernaut) and fire all the teachers at a half dozen others in a reconstitution move called (this year) "turnaround", more than 5,000 parents, teachers, students and community leaders protested as a series of community meetings and at several meetings of the Chicago Board of Education. Despite the fact that Marilyn Stewart had sold out the union's
members at all the schools that were on what teachers called Arne Duncan's "hit list," the union tried to continue its collaboration with Duncan (and his master, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley).

All of this has been reported, month after month, in the pages of Substance.

The material is available in great detail in our back issues (available both in print and PDF) at our new Website, www.substancenews.net.

. . . .

For now, anyone who believes Randi Weingarten -- viz., that Arne Duncan has a "good relationship" with the Chicago Teachers Union -- is delusional. But just in case there are doubters, the next three meetings of the Chicago Board of Education should tell the tale. Next Wednesday (December 17) there will be major protests by teachers and others against Duncan's latest plans to close and "turnaround" so-called "underperforming" schools (Duncan's a weasal; he never uses the word "failing" but lets the media touts who push his work use it later) and mess up dozens of others.

Anyone who is in Chicago is welcome to see how popular Arne Duncan is with rank-and-file union teachers next Wednesday at the Chicago Board of Education. The Board meetings in the (prohibitively expensive, because of privatized parking) Loop at its offices at 125 S. Clark St. in Chicago. The meeting will begin at 10:30 a.m.

For those who are unable to be at the meeting, there will be much available on line at the Substance Website


At the "District299" blog (the meeting place for people who know the facts about Arne Duncan)


and at some of the rank-and-file groups within the Chicago Teachers Union, especially the new CORE caucus


After you've read up about Chicago from the grass roots, then circulate nonsense about whether the "teachers" and the "union" support Arne Duncan.

Randi Weingarten is a lawyer who has less real teaching experience than the average veteran substitute teacher. Arne Duncan is an educational administrator who has as much teaching experience as Randi Weingarten.

It figures they would be scratching each others' backs.

George N. Schmidt
Editor, Substance


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