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

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Duncan and Bennett Share Same Forked Tongue

Seated alongside America's lead virtuecrat and reformed serial gambler, Bill Bennett, Arne Duncan was on CNN yesterday to declare that education is "the civil rights issue of our generation." While Duncan blamed some states for choosing the adjustable rate plan to failure and the mythical 100% proficiency target set by NCLB in 2014, he had nothing negative to say to about the NCLB plan itself, which is now publicly recognized as a thinly-veiled privatization scheme that cynicially used and still uses children for political and financial gain.

If you look at the video (keep barf bag handy), you will see the old white walrus, Bennett, playing bad cop to Duncan's clueless cop. While Duncan whines about states yielding to political pressure and "dummied down" standards, Bennett puts his fat fist straight to the solar plexus of the teaching profession. Smash! While Duncan focuses on "rewarding excellence," Bennett offers the old bloviator's approval for Duncan's support of the Central Falls Massacre last week as a way to crush the teachers' unions. Apparently, Duncan now has to carry his own gray-muzzled police dog to bark that point across, since the Massacre has galvanized the nation's teachers against such bare-knuckled stupidity.

At heart, Duncan is a coward, and there is plenty of reason for him to have that big-eyed, pasty glare all over his scared face. He knows that his bromides about civil rights, the ones with as much weight as a garbage bag full of paper cups, are as transparent to the general public as they are to himself. If education is the Civil Rights issue of this generation, then it is clear that Duncan's Department has abandoned civil rights in the most basic ways:
  1. If education were "the civil rights issue of this generation," why would Duncan craft a national policy that has the creation of segregated corporate charter schools as the # 1 reform initiative, especially since civil rights scholars and activists do not support such a policy?
  2. If education were "the civil rights issue of this generation," why would Duncan make federal assistance to the poor under Title I dependent upon test score increases?
  3. If education were "the civil rights issue of this generation," why would Duncan support the gutting of teaching standards and certification requirements for teachers of the poor in his segregated urban charters, rather than recruiting and paying the best teachers for these children?
  4. If education were "the civil rights issue of this generation," why would Duncan allow the curriculum caste system that leaves poor children stuck with reading and math test prep for 12 years, or until they drop out?
  5. If education were "the civil rights issue of this generation," why would Duncan ignore the crumbling and under-resourced urban school buildings and programs where children don't even have textbooks or toilet paper, much less science labs, libraries and librarians?
  6. If education were "the civil rights issue of this generation," why would Duncan support the same school turnaround policies for minority schools that have been demonstrated as ineffective in Chicago? (studyRequires Adobe Acrobat Reader)
  7. If education were "the civil rights issue of this generation," why would Duncan support only the "no excuses" total compliance teaching model where minority students are treated like inmates that must be contained and curtailed? (See regimentation of urban American children in action here by Bob Zimmerli, the poster boy of the Lemovian method that is promoted in this week's NY Times Magazine piece, reviewed here).

1 comment:

  1. I caught the last part of the interview with Wolf, and thought it was interesting the way Duncan back away quickly from endorsing (even talking up) charter schools. In fact, he almost made my case that parallel systems will not make things better, but taking what works and applying it to the public systems should be the ultimate goal.

    I may be reading between the lines a bit, but his reaction surprised me.

    Bennett's attacks on unions were embarrassing and cartoon like, and a reason CNN should reevaluate his ability to appear as a credible authority on education. Extreme partisan bias ends any real debate.

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