Thursday, August 26, 2010

Duncan: 'I feel your pain'

Speaking in Arkansas, Duncan offers his Race To The Top, replete with winners & losers, testing madness, union busting, and mass teacher firings, as part of a new "civil rights movement." But most civil rights groups are openly critical. And why not? They've been opposing two-tier funding of segregated public schools since they were created.

The sickest part of Duncan's speech, the part that is bound to breed the most cynicism, was about the L.A. Times recent publishing the names and pictures of district teachers with their supposed individual, value-added quotient attached. Duncan was the first to openly laud the publication.

Now he says: "I appreciate how painful this may be for these L.A. teachers, and I also appreciate the fact that even the best data systems won't tell the whole story." He feels their pain, sorta. But what the hell, let's stick it to 'em anyway.

Then comes the topper--AD says:
"We didn't publish this in a newspaper in Chicago and I don't advocate that approach for other districts -- but the fact that teachers did not have this information is ridiculous."
What? A mixed message? You don't advocate this approach for other districts? But why not?

Duncan knows full well that this public shaming and debasing of many excellent teachers who work under the most difficult conditions, with low-scoring kids, is not about sharing information with them.

But while he doesn't recommend it, he applauds it.


Habits of mind? Are you kidding?

On second thought, that wasn't the sickest part. The sickest part was this throw-away line:
We trust that high-quality teachers — rich in content knowledge, confident in their skills, and poised to teach habits of mind — are the people who will turn our students into autonomous learners."

Duncan's speech writer, Peter Cunningham must have been reading a little Ted Sizer. I'd love to see the look on Deb Meier's face when she reads that. I wonder where habits-of-mind show up in the Times' test score, value-added formula?


  1. My 19-year-old's comment on the L.A. Times assault on teachers: "You mean they published teachers' pictures and said 'this is a sh*tty teacher'? That's the kind of courageous, boundary-crossing journalism that will save newspapers from the Internet."

  2. Central High in Little Rock is now a racially diverse school with high academic standards. Central has had the most National Merit and National Achievement finalists in the state over the past 10 years. And imagine, Mr. Duncan. It isn't a charter schools and has union teachers. Explain, please.

  3. I weep when I read this stuff--most literally. Imagine what it is like to grow up around adults whose feelings are intentionally hurt--in the name o "truth". Such sensibilities are precisely one of the hard things we try to help children learn--to never purposely do harm.

    Think of how creatively we try to help those we care about--to be honest but usefully so!

    I've a trove o stuff, Mike, bout the various swings o educational ideology, but this swing is as mean as I've seen.

    Note: they dont send their own kids to schools of the sort they encourage for others.

  4. Hey Mike,

    Thanks for the support. My friends and I are LAUSD teachers trying frantically to stop the times from labeling us as "Least Effective" to "Most Effective" having never stepped foot and actually seeing us teach.

    The LA Times is a subsidiary of the Chicago Tribune so a boycott of that paper might help them to get the message as well.

    In regards to Arne Duncan, he is bought and sold by the Bill Gates, Walton, and Broad foundations. It was sad to see Obama pass up on Hammond for that corporate clown. Let educators set up the curriculum, standards, and then let them teach. It is very simple.

    Thank you again for your post and support.


Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you.