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

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Duncan: To "offer every child in this country the chance to out-compete any worker worldwide"

There is something in how Arne Duncan writes and speaks that conveys the same kind of ivy-jock attention deficit that would be totally appropriate for a hurried after-game interview in which the reluctant star utters a few bromides about teamwork and playing hard and listening to the coach. As if in a hurry to get to the showers, Duncan, when wound up, dumps a fusilade of platitudes along a desolate stretch of disordered sentences that are too impatient to hold separate ideas apart, that roll out of his mouth or onto the page as instant bundled cliches that would have been better off had they never been put into a position to need forgetting. The latest example from an op-ed in the Dallas Morning News:
President Barack Obama recently challenged all Americans to overcome the stale debates that have paralyzed progress on education so that we can offer every child in this country the chance to out-compete any worker worldwide.
"Offer every child in this country a chance to out-compete any worker worldwide?" What the hell! Does Arne not have a secretary? Oh, I forgot--he is the Secretary.

If we could just dispense with this childhood stuff and get right to the worker stuff. Just a couple of weeks ago, he was offering to come up with a super test let to second graders know if they were or were not destined for college:
We should be able to look every second grader in the eye and say, ‘You’re on track, you’re going to be able to go to a good college, or you’re not,’ Right now, in too many states, quite frankly, we lie to children. We lie to them and we lie to their families.
I know, I know, I shouldn't be too hard on Arne. What he says doesn't matter, anyway--it's what Coach Broad and Coach Gates say that really matters, and they are only talking to Arne.

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