Many of last night's speakers at the DNC were over the top. Arne Duncan wasn't. I actually missed his speech. I was too busy teaching my class of future teachers. From what I heard, Duncan's ratings were pretty low and there was hardly a mention of his speech, or of education issues at the DNC, in this morning's news. I had to watch the video of Duncan's speech this morning on WSJ's website.
Duncan: "Education is about jobs."What? Really?
Leaving aside for a moment whether or not education should really be about filling corporate job slots (my students are reading Dewey's Experience and Education and discussing what ed is really about) Duncan's Race To The Top doesn't fill the bill. It requires districts to fire teachers in mass, without due process or any regard to experience, qualifications, or evaluations. Remember, he cheered on the firing of each and every teacher and school staff person at Central Falls, H.S. Did he think we'd forget? There are 300,000 teachers that have lost their jobs in the past two years, due at least in part to Duncan's policies.
Duncan: "If countries like China out-educate us today, they will out-compete us tomorrow?"What? In the measly 3 minutes Axelrod gave him to try and rally the base of disgruntled public school teachers and parents, Duncan spends a good part of it raising that old yellow-peril argument?
Fortunately for Obama and the party, no one was really listening to Arne's gobbledy-guck. It took a few union folks, victims of Romney/Bain, Elizabeth Warren, Sandra Fluke and the irrepressible Bill Clinton to get the job done. As for positives, Duncan did admit that "teachers matter." And at least he didn't go off about the benefits of larger class size or Hurricane Issac being the best thing ever for the school children in Plaquemines Parish.
Afterwards, someone asks him about Chicago and Rahm's war with the CTU.
Duncan: “I don’t know all the details."What?