Arne Duncan's opposition: A partial list
This interesting dynamic marked a meeting this week between Education Secretary Arne Duncan and U.S. legislators representing 17 states:
Not a single lawmaker voiced to Duncan his or her very real objections to some of his key education policies.
According to Education Week, the lawmakers stayed mum about their concerns when Duncan asked them for help in supporting the Obama administration’s education goals. His deputies, however, got an earful about some of Duncan’s favored initiatives, including linking teacher’s pay with standardized test scores and the tough measures required to deal with low-performing schools.
It is a mystery why the legislators did not do their job and challenge the education secretary. Were they being polite? Were they intimidated?
Surely Duncan must know that there is hostility across the country to the policies that the Obama administration is pursuing under his leadership, even if he suggested to the New York Times that there wasn't any.
The man can count, so he knows that not all 50 states jumped at the chance he offered to win millions of dollars in federal grant money in his $4 billion Race to the Top competition if they would only pursue initiatives that he favors. Fourteen states sat out of the second round, and support was hardly unanimous in the participating states.
Department officials say that they meet with thousands of people a week to discuss policy, and it is unlikely they have the organizational ability to meet exclusively with supporters. So they hear some griping.
The question is whether they listen, and the available evidence suggests that nobody at the highest levels in the government grasps the depth of the disillusionment and the breadth of disapproval to the Obama/Duncan vision for public education.
As a presidential candidate, Obama bashed No Child Left Behind, former president George W. Bush’s main education initiative, saying that obsession with high-stakes standardized tests was no way to run an education system.
But Obama, taking Duncan’s lead, now supports some of the key NCLB concepts that doomed it to fail: high-stakes standardized testing, punishment for lowest-achieving schools, and arbitrary deadlines for success. And they are adding some of their own bad ideas to make things worse: linking teacher evaluation and pay to how well kids do on
These policies are right in sync with those of former President George W. Bush and his No Child Left Behind law, with its obsession on high-stakes testing. And now they are being praised by Bush’s brother Jeb, the former governor of Florida, who has anointed himself a national education leader and is pushing for the national adoption of policies that have made a mess of Florida’s public education system.
That should be enough to give pause to anybody in the Obama administration.
But it isn’t. They seem to think it is a good thing that they are on the same page as people who damaged the public education system. After all, bipartisanship is a good thing, right?
And, just as the Bush crew did, the Obama team likes to paint its policy opponents as people who prefer the status quo, a passive-aggressive way of saying that these folks don’t care as much about kids as the education secretary does.
This is not going to end well, not for the people who matter most in this dynamic: the kids.
There is no evidence whatsoever to show that these policies will do anything to help kids learn or help more minority students improve, and some evidence that harm will be done.
Just in case the folks at the Education Department need help in tracking down opponents, here is a very short list of a small fraction of the teachers and parents groups, on Facebook alone, that are opposed to Obama’s education agenda. They have a combined membership of hundreds of thousands of members:
Testing is Not Teaching
Teachers Should Make the Decisions about Education
Parents Across America Say: Put the Parent Voice Back in Public Education!
Teacher Letters to Obama
Florida Teachers Against Pay-for-Performance Salary/Pay Scales
NJ Teachers United Against Pay Freeze
Stop Race to the Top/Sen Bill 6
FCAT-FL Children Are Tortured
Speak Up for Education and Kids
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| June 19, 2010; 6:30 AM ET
Categories: Education Secretary Duncan, Race to the Top, Teachers | Tags: against race to the top, education secretary arne duncan, education secretary arne duncan and race to the top, facebook groups against arne duncan, opposition to race to the top, parents against race to the top, race to the top, teachers against race to the top, teachers and race to the top
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