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

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Case Against the Kevin Huffmans of the World

Kevin Huffman was an English major at Swarthmore in the late 80s and never studied child development, pedagogy, history/philosophy of education, or any of the other subjects that are now viewed as irrelevant and even harmful to education policy know-nothings like Arne Duncan and, of course, Kevin Huffman.

Considerations of child psychology, historical contexts, and ethical teaching practices are anathema to the new generation of Gradgrinds and McChoakumchilds who make lucrative careers by applying antiquated business and management techniques within a profession that was once focused on child growth, development, and learning.
After graduation, Huffman taught for two years in the early 90s as a TFA recruit before going on to law school at NYU. A few years later Huffman returned to TFA as an attorney, where he occupied himself as Mr. Michelle Rhee until the billionaire boys got him placed as Commissioner of Education in Tennessee.

Today Huffman resides over one of the most retrograde departments of education in America, implacably fixated on bullying and harassing higher test scores from children and educators, whatever the cost to child welfare, parents, teachers, communities. In the absence of such higher test scores, poor children who don’t produce them are regularly segregated in corporate reform schools and their teachers replaced by arrogant fascists-in-training like Kevin Huffman and Michelle Rhee.

The CorpEd Model that Huffman resides over in Tennessee accepts child human rights abuses as a matter of course and the cost of doing business.  Huffman and his band of ethically-blinkered lieutenants display all the intolerant, insensitive, sadistic, arrogant, and domineering characteristics of bullies anywhere.

Now if you are a parent or teacher of children who display the following characteristics during the high stakes testing season, you could easily mistake them as victims of bullying, which this list of symptoms actually reflects.  

The fact that victims of bullying and victims of test abuse show the same signs should tell us all something, all except the irresponsible, controlling, and blaming bunch of morally repugnant fools at the your state and federal departments of education.

      Not wanting to go to school
      Complaints of headaches or stomachaches
      Lack of self-esteem
      Sudden drop in school performance
                       Trouble sleeping or eating

Below is the State of Tennessee’s own definitions of bullying and harassment, which should be enough to dismiss and prosecute the entire Department, the State Board, and the Governor. 

Bullying is defined as unwanted, aggressive behavior that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. The imbalance of power involves the use of physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity to control or harm others.

Harassment is any unwelcome conduct based on a protected class under the federal civil rights laws that is severe, pervasive or persistent and creates a hostile environment that interferes with or limits a student's ability to participate in or benefit from services, activities, or opportunities offered by a school. Harassment meets one or more of the following criteria: is an act directed at one or more students that is received as harmful or embarrassing; is directed at one or more students; substantially interferes with educational opportunities, benefits, or programs of one or more students; substantially affects the ability of a student to participate in or benefit from the school district’s educational programs or activities by placing the student in reasonable fear of physical harm or by causing emotional distress; is based on a student’s actual or perceived distinguishing characteristic, or is based on an association with another person who has or is perceived to have any distinguishing characteristics; is repeated over time – is severe, persistent, and pervasive; causes mental duress, or psychological trauma to the victim.

The good news is that this form of official human rights abuse is about to come to a screeching halt.  Parents everywhere are in the process of demanding an end to such wasteful, harmful, and unethical practices.  Within the next five years, the Huffmans of the world will be as forgotten and irrelevant as Rod Paige and Margaret Spellings.  The task is to make sure that humane schools will be created to replace today’s high tech antiquated chain gangs.

Click here for Tennessee Opt Out info.


  1. Parents have incredible power. Use it or lose it. The Momma Bears of TN tell you how easy it is to advocate for your children against this testing madness:


  2. Join parents, teachers & citizens to demand the governor remove Kevin Huffman as commissioner of education and replace him with a qualified educator.

  3. Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Huffman get "stuck" with the kids that his former spouse didn't want because she is too busy putting students (with the exception of her own) first?

    1. Robt., I don't know the answer to your question as I don't run in that crowd. However, I did hear from a source that Rhee's marriage to the other Kevin - basketball star - Johnson was arranged to protect him from his personal scandals. This is hearsay, but my source is reliable.