Thursday, December 2, 2010

Duncan keynotes Jeb Bush's ed reform conference

The sponsors tell the story

Arne Duncan has long been a favorite of the neocon wing of the Republican Party. He played a big role in pumping new life into a largely discredited Newt Gingrich when he made Gingrich the centerpiece of his road tour. He's revived Bush's No Child Left Behind and yesterday, with the 2012 elections looming on the horizon, Duncan the necromancer did his best to resuscitate the political corpse of Jeb Bush by keynoting the former Florida gov's 2-day so-called, National Summit on Education Reform in D.C.

According to WaPo's Valerie Strauss:
Education Secretary Arne Duncan gave the keynote speech today; the Republican Bush led a standing ovation for the Democratic Duncan, showing that school reform is, indeed, a bipartisan effort, if not a monolithic one.
The Orlando Sentinel's Mike Thomas writes:
Actually, this isn’t a shock. While Jeb has called President Obama a big spending liberal, and “childish” for blaming George W. Bush “for everything,” he has embraced much of Obama’s education agenda. That’s because much of Obama’s education agenda is derived from the Jeb Bush education agenda, which promotes school choice and accountability through testing.
Duncan joined a parade of Waiting For Superman types at the podium, including the nation's new chief teacher union-basher, New Jersey Gov. Christie. The conference and Bush/Duncan press conference appeared to be a love fest, with only slight cracks appearing over the issue of vouchers.

Both Duncan and Bush called for the next Congress to quickly reauthorize No Child Left Behind. Duncan said he wants NCLB tweaked a bit, but not overhauled. Neither is very likely since at the very same time, down the road a piece, all 42 Republican senators were signing a pledge not to allow ANY legislation to pass except tax cuts for the rich.

As Strauss points out: "What tells the story of the convention best is the list of convention sponsors." She's so right. The list resembles a convergence of the power philanthropists and hogs nudging their way in to the DOE feeding trough.
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
The Broad Foundation
The Walton Family Foundation
Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation
The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
McGraw Hill Education
Apex Learning
Susan and Bill Oberndorf
The Foundation for Educational Choice
Barton Malow Design/Construction Services
Charter Schools USA
Bush's conference was also used as a springboard for the formation of a new "bipartisan" group of state school superintendents called, Chiefs for Change, headed by Louisiana Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek. The group, as you can imagine, is the embodiment of corporate reform and a new hammer against teacher unions.

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