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

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Holy Moses Batman! Arne Met with the Badass Teachers!

The BATS Swoop Down on Department of Education

From With a Brooklyn Accent

The party's over but looks like the Badass Teachers, a group of people who have devoted their lives to educating children, had a meeting with Arne Duncan. The party at the DoE was  a lot of fun and nice to see new faces. The music was particularly good and the speakers, weather and entertainment was just what teachers needed this summer.


  1. The time for chatting with Arne Duncan is long past.

  2. Michael Fiorillo10:46 AM

    Yup, just who I want representing the dignity and interests of K-12 teachers and public education... And, ooh, they even got to talk to the empty suit at the DOE !

  3. Jack Covey8:06 PM


    Check out the next question and Duncan’s non-answer:

    01:25 – 01:41

    REPORTER: “Some people have been critical all along of No Child Left Behind and the testing portions of this. Umm, how fair is that criticism?”

    DUNCAN: “Well, we want to fix the No Child Left Behind Law. That’s a much longer conversation, and we’re working very hard in Congress to do… to do that now.”


    Again… W-T-F? His response is that he wants to “fix” NCLB. Well, exactly WHAT about NCLB do you want to “fix”? For Duncan’s answer to be responsive to the question, he must then address criticism of “the testing portions” that the reporters’ question references… the “portions” that create the breeding ground for cheating scandals like the ones in Atlanta, Washington, D.C. and elsewhere…. and Duncan ain’t doing that.

    The reporter is pushing Duncan to admit that all this test-based evaluating/punishing/rewarding is harmful, but he responds with pointless blather about how “we’re working very hard in Congress to do that now.”

    Really?… “to do WHAT now”? You meant that politicians and education officials should “fix the testing portions” that are harming education and harming kids?

    Again, no answer.

    The reporter then questions whether, in urban areas with so many challenging factors teachers have to fight, that demanding “unrealistic” results led to the cheating problem, that when asked to do the impossible, teachers who are threatened with firing for not achieving the impossible, will then be driven to cheat. (which is the conclusion one gets from reading Rachel Aviv’s NEW YORKER article.)

    This is another great question, by the way. Kudos to the reporter!

    Again, Duncan totally ducks this query. He challenges those doubters who think that the NCLB benchmarks were “unrealistic” that they are the ones in the wrong, that he is “seeing students learn every single year”

    This is his version of the Michelle Rhee diversionary response to evidence of cheating: “You must be racist to think that poor, minority kids can’t learn.”


  4. Jack Covey8:07 PM


    01:41 – 02:14

    REPORTER: “But, but the whole idea of unrealistic measurements… something for urban districts, et cetera… Is that – ?”

    ARNE DUNCAN: “I don’t think there is anything ‘unrealistic’ about seeing students learn every single year, and you have in many urban areas tremendous progress being made. The sad fact is that I actually think in Atlanta there’s probably tremendous progress being made… fairly… and unfortunately, this, this… scandal is going to cloud that… ummm…. but this does not in any way take away from shouldn’t take away from the hard work, and the accomplishments, and the improved graduation rates that we’re seeing in many urban districts around the country.”

    Let’s move on to the next question, about the idea that Atlanta school district’s monetary incentives helped create the problem. This is the closest he gets to being responsive to the question being asked.

    He says that monetary incentives ARE NOT ONLY GOOD for education, but that we should have started doing them long before now.

    Oh really?

    The only problem with Arne’s claim is…. the overwhelming evidence shows that…




    All the decades of evidences show that not only do they not improve education; they actually do grave harm to it.

    But hey, Arne thinks we should keep trying anyway, so we’re just going to have to be stuck with more of it. At the end of his spiel, he vomits up the idea that using monetary incentives is “not a hard thing to do”, that you just “have to do it with integrity.”

    Really? “Not a hard thing to do”?

    Then how come it has NEVER worked, that historically, doing so has an utter and total failure rate?

    Duncan thinks we should “spotlight” and “celebrate” good teachers and principals… with monetary rewards (the next question BEL0W).

    Duncan’s assumption is that prior to, or without those rewards to push them, teachers will or are holding back their “A Game”, and not giving it their best effort… and that with monetary rewards, they’ll get off their duff and do the job they should have been doing all along.

    This comes from a man who has never taught a day in his life, or worked as a principal a day in his life, for if he had, he’d know that this is all total garbage.

    02:14 – 03:02

    REPORTER: “Should… a lot of this is about money, I think, you know, that both teachers and principals are evaluated by their test scores of their students, and there’s a lot of money involved in this. Should that be decoupled from student learning?”

    ARNE DUNCAN: “Well, I think rewarding teacher excellence is important. I think I would argue the opposite, that far too often in our country, we haven’t celebrated great teachers, we haven’t celebrated great principals who are making a huge difference in students’ lives. You just want to make sure that they’re doing it honestly, and again, the vast vast majority of teachers are doing an amazing job, often in very difficult circumstances, in helping students beat the odds every single day.

    “I think we need to do a better job of spotlighting that, and incentivizing that, and encouraging that, and learning from that. In education, we’ve been far too reluctant to talk about success. We need to do that. We just need to make sure that we’re doing it with integrity…. not that hard to do.”


    The reporter finishes with a questions about one of the intangible ways that this harms education and society as a whole. She gets personal and talks about how this cheating scandal has taken away her “last heroes”, the teachers, and on and on.

    I’m sick and tired of transcribing this words of this vile person (Duncan, not the reporter, whom I admire)… so, if you want to, you can watch her ask this last question, and the entire video here: