David Brooks took advantage of Paul Krugman's absence at the NYTimes today to plug Arne Duncan for Secretary of Education, whose work in Chicago has shown that he truly came to replace public education, not to improve it. Duncan definitely has a lean and hungry look, and this week he has turned up in DC having coffee with the overstuffed Margaret Spellings, while smiling a lot.
David Brooks's idea of a bold education reform is more of the same testing insanity that has made the testing-technology complex deliriously rich in the past eight years, while making anxious American public school children less able to think and more interested in anything but school.
If Mr. Obama is committed to moving backwards to a time when the most that public schooling could do was to "rake a few geniuses from the rubbish," as Jefferson would have it, then the continued stupidifying corporatization of public education is just the ticket--and either Arne or Joel is entirely capable of leading the charge. We see what the geniuses of Wall Street and "market mechanisms" have done for the market, specifically, and the economy in general--just imagine what they might do for a field of endeavor such as education for which they have even LESS understanding and capability.
If, however, Mr. Obama is interested in making the Obama-Biden Plan worth more than the monitor I am reading it from, then he should choose a Secretary from among the candidates who had the foresight to put together such a plan--and not from the usual suspects of tired politicians and distracted empire builders who know almost as little about schooling as David Brooks.