by Paul Street
This article previously appeared on Znet.
"NO SCHOOL LEFT UNSOLD"
Educational justice advocates are understandably displeased with President-Elect Obama's appointment of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Arne Duncan to the position of Education Secretary in the next White House.
As the Chicago public school teacher Jesse Sharkey notes, "In the past couple years, Duncan has been turning public schools over to private operators - mainly in the form of charter and contract schools - at a rate of about 20 per year. Duncan has also resuscitated some of the worst ‘school reform' ideas of the 1990s, like firing all the teachers in low-performing schools (called ‘turnarounds'). At the same time, he's eliminated many Local School Councils (LSCs) and made crucial decisions without public input... Charter schools and test-score driven school ‘choice' have been the watchwords of Duncan's rule in Chicago" (Sharkey 2008). 
"Charter schools and test-score driven school ‘choice' have been the watchwords of Duncan's rule in Chicago."
University of Illinois at Chicago education professor Kevin Kumashiro notes that Duncan's Chicago policies have been "steeped in a free-market model of school reform" that feeds the drop-out rate, increases segregation, and does little if anything to increase student achievement. "Duncan's track record is clear," says Kumashiro: "Less parental and community involvement in school governance. Less support for teacher unions. Less breadth and depth in what and how students learn as schools place more emphasis on narrow high-stakes testing. More penalties for schools but without adequate resources for those in high-poverty areas" (Kumashiro 2008). . . .
"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972
. . .a pupil attitude factor, which appears to have a stronger relationship to achievement than do all the “school” factors together, is the extent to which an individual feels that he has some control over his own destiny. James Coleman, 1966
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Outrage Against Duncan Swells
Black Agenda Report has a lengthy piece, "Arne Duncan and Neo-Liberal Racism," on Arne Duncan just in time for his confirmation hearing. Will any Democrat ask why Duncan is roundly praised by Spellings, Bush, and Rod Paige? Will Duncan repeat the half-truths and lies that he presented on the Hill last summer in his cheerleading testimony for autocratic rule of urban schools? Stay tuned.