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Madfloridian's Journal
Posted by madfloridian in General Discussion
Sat Mar 24th 2012, 12:44 AM
Flunking Arne Duncan

Diane Ravitch lays it out clearly.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan loves evaluation. He insists that everyone should willingly submit to public grading of the work they do. The Race to the Top program he created for the Obama Administration requires states to evaluate all teachers based in large part on the test scores of their students. When the Los Angeles Times released public rankings that the newspaper devised for thousands of teachers, Duncan applauded and asked, “What’s there to hide?” Given Duncan’s enthusiasm for grading educators, it seems high time to evaluate his own performance as Secretary of Education.


Here is one instance in which he fails.

Has Duncan followed the law in his education policies?

No. Duncan has issued waivers to states that want to be relieved from NCLB’s impossible mandate of reaching 100 percent proficiency by 2014, but replaced that law’s demands with those of his own devising. Duncan says his waivers allow “flexibility,” but they serve simply to impose his own ideas about evaluating teachers, “transforming” low-performing schools (by firing staff or closing the schools), and adopting national standards in reading and mathematics


Besides breaking the law:

Have the policies promulgated by Duncan been good for the children of the United States?

No. Most parents and teachers and even President Obama (and sometimes Duncan himself) agree that “teaching to the test” makes school boring and robs classrooms of time for the imaginative instruction and activities that enliven learning. The standardized tests that are now ubiquitous are inherently boring. As President Obama said in his State of the Union address, teachers should teach with “creativity and passion,” but they can’t do that when tests matter so much.


Which of course leads me to believe that Obama is not fully aware of his own policies in education.

Here is another area he flunks.

Do Duncan’s policies encourage teachers and inspire good teaching?

No. Duncan’s policies demean the teaching profession by treating student test scores as a proxy for teacher quality. A test that a student takes on one day of the year cannot possibly measure the quality of a teacher.


This next area is the once for which most teachers will remember him without fondness. He has allowed them to be subjected to humiliating tactics.

Has Duncan defended public education and public school educators against attacks on them?

No. Although he is a Democrat, he has been absent when public education and public school educators were under siege. When Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker decided to eliminate collective bargaining rights for teachers and other public sector workers, Duncan was silent. When Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels pushed through a voucher bill that provides public funding for students to attend private and religious schools, Duncan was silent. When Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal endorsed sweeping voucher and charter legislation, Duncan was silent (indeed, he described Governor Jindal’s choice for state commissioner to promote his extremely conservative education agenda as “a visionary leader”). When other governors proposed legislation to remove due process rights from teachers, to slash education spending, and to expand the privatization of public schools, Duncan was silent. Grade: F.


Grade F. indeed.

I think there should be no discounting the anger of teachers who have been degraded and in many cases lost their careers in the name of "reform."
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madfloridian
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