Thursday, May 9, 2013

Duncan Demagogy

In the world of ed politics, there are straight shooters and there are those who will say anything, depending on their audience. There's no better example of a straight shooter than Jonathan Kozol, who is being honored tonight by FairTest with the Deborah W. Meier Heroes in Education Award in recognition of his courageous activism. The event will be held at the Multicultural Arts Center, from 6 to 8:30 p.m., at 41 Second Street, Cambridge, MA

Duncan at AERA
Then there's Sec. Arne Duncan, who came to AERA last week to try and cover his ass left flank. To listen to him talk, one would think, here's the man leading the fight against the current testing madness. Hilarious and irritating at the same time

I didn't go to San Francisco this year but it sounds like few were taken in by Duncan's anti-test double-talk. He was understandably received with a resounding chorus of boos by hundreds of ed researchers who daily bear witness (about all researchers can do these days) to the destructiveness of Race To The Top and who know better than to take this educational know-nothing at face value.

Arnold Dodge, chairperson of the Department of Educational Leadership and Administration at LIU-Post does a great job of exposing Duncan-style demagogy in yesterday's Huffington Post.

Dodge quotes Duncan:
"Some schools have an almost obsessive culture around testing, and that hurts their most vulnerable learners and narrows the curriculum. It's heartbreaking to hear a child identify himself as 'below basic' or 'I'm a one out of four.' "
Dodge responds:
 This observation sounds more like the Secretary is talking to a clergyman in the confessional booth than to a group of educational researchers who have been studying the destruction of children's self-concept as learners by the very policy that his office developed and promotes.
You can read the rest here.


  1. Duncan doesn't have the guts to come out and openly defend his own policies. He's forcing states to base teacher evals, jobs and even school survival on a standardized test score. And then he has the nerve to chastise schools for an "obsessive culture around testing." This guy's a piece of work. Isn't he?

    1. It's the old chestnut come true--"if you can't dazzle them with your brilliance, baffle them with you B.S."

      Well, Arnie, you certainly WOULDN"T be able to dazzle any of us with your brilliance, because you have none of that. And we're not quite ignorant or stupid enough to be baffled by your B.S.

      Therefore, you've got nothing, so kudos to AERA. Hopefully, the next time you show up with your nonsensical doublespeak (and the next, and the next), that audience--and all to come--will boo you as well.

  2. I'm so glad to read about people from AERA speaking out against Arne Duncan and his efforts to get rid of the public schools. I know that he is supposed to be supporting them but as a teacher I know he is not interested in students or teachers, he is into top down control. His lack of respect for nurturing and creativity in the education-teaching mix takes the joy out of teaching and learning . My experience is that children love to learn, it's their life joy because it engages their thinking capacity as they interact with their surroundings. It's a way to feed their curiosity and feed their intellectual powers. Memorizing has it's place in learning also but it doesn't develop personhood to a great extent. I think that is what those who call for so much rote learning in education are afraid of because they can't really deal with other people on an equal basis. Those people need to get into another field where they don't have to deal with people in any significant way.


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