Thursday, June 9, 2011

Interesting days indeed

Diane Ravitch calls them "an interesting few days." Indeed they were. They began on the last day of May with her NYT op-ed piece which nailed the corporate school reformers for their politically-driven, data-fudging "turnaround" myth-making.

Then came the pitiful response from Arne Duncan via embedded Bloomberg journalist Jonathan Alter, which basically amounted to a paragraph or two of personal invective aimed at Diane.
 "She’s the education world’s very own Whittaker Chambers, the famous communist turned strident anti-communist of the 1940s."
 "Diane Ravitch is in denial and she is insulting all of the hardworking teachers, principals and students all across the country who are proving her wrong every day." (Fawning Alter quoting "mild-mannered" education secretary Duncan).
And my favorite: "She now uses phony empiricism."  
 This, the day after she  received the Daniel Patrick Moynihan award from the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences for promoting "the use of informed judgment to advance the public good" through "sound analysis and social science research in policy-making, while contributing to the civility of public discourse and pursuing a bipartisan approach to society's most pressing problems."

Ravitch and Alter then had a debate of sorts on David Sirota's Denver radio show. I say "of sorts" because Diane was like the veteran educator confronting an embarrassed school kid who hadn't done his homework. Progressive moderator Sirota had a tough time restraining himself from joining in on Alter's spanking.

Actually Alter has done a service, not only to Duncan (whose communications team obviously feeds Alter his lines) and to corporate reformers (Bloomberg), but to us as well. As Anthony Cody put it, in his Edweek blog, Alter "kicked the hornets' nest."


To top things off, Duncan had to pull his over-sized yet overworked PR team at the DOE off of the Ravitch case to do damage control on the Stockton raid story.  I'd like to think I had a little something to do with that after spending my morning yesterday tracking down why NBC News10 pulled its interview with Kenneth Wright. Wright became the victim after Arne's DOE army, assault weapons in hand, and armed also with a DOE search warrant, broke down Wright's door at 6 a.m. and terrorized Wright and his small children for hours. No sooner had I posted the story than the station pulled it (under pressure from the feds???). After my phone calls to the station, I received this missive from News10's Roy Kennedy:

First of all, thanks for contacting us.  The interview with Mr. Wright will be posted soon.  The original package had some old information that needs to be updated.  In the meantime his interview will be put up on the site in the next hour or so. Call or email me if you have questions.
Roy Kennedy News10

If you've followed the story, you know that the original Wright video interview promised by Kennedy was never posted again. But a new video clip (above) does have excerpts from it.  In the meantime, the story changed from the raid supposedly targeting a student loan defaulter (Wright's estranged wife) to:
In a statement to, Education Department Press Secretary Justin Hamilton confirmed that its Office of Inspector General executed the warrant with the presence of local law enforcement authorities.
"While it was reported in local media that the search was related to a defaulted student loan, that is incorrect," the statement read. "This is related to a criminal investigation. The Inspector General's Office does not execute search warrants for late loan payments."
Now that's what I call damage control. Duncan's OIG troopers bust down the door of a black family at dawn in Stockton. They throw the father down on the ground, hand-cuffed in front of his children. Lock him in a squad car for six hours in miserable heat. Wreck his house searching for who knows what. Then release him without charges and press the local NBC affiliate to change their story and make the video interview with him go away.

Yes, interesting few days indeed.


  1. WTF? Since when does the DOE have armed agents? What country is this?

  2. How about an audit of the DOE? Over the past decade they have spent nearly one trillion dollars. Send in the auditors to the DOE house of shame.
    Citizens deserve to know where Edcaution Secretarties Duncan, Spelling, and Page spent our tax dollars.
    You certainly won't find in reduced class sizes.
    Children are more than test scores, and so are their teachers.
    I'm marching to DC with Save Our Schools this July 30


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