Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Duncan's diatribe

1. an expert in a particular subject or field who is frequently called on to give opinions about it to the public. 2. a learned man : teacher
Ed Sec. Arne Duncan has lashed out at his critics, referring to them (us) as "armchair pundits." His attempt at silencing is particularly directed at those who point to poverty and the resulting inequality of opportunity as a primary source of supposed "school failure." This problem seems way beyond Harvard grad Duncan's grasp. Duncan sees the country divided between his critics, "inhabitants of this alternative universe," and the "many people in the real world, outside the beltway and blogosphere, have tuned out this debate."

While using his own Twitter account to try and vanquish his "alternative-world" critics, Duncan mis-characterizes them (us) as people "arguing in 140 characters or less about whether we need to fix poverty before we can fix education." Especially for those of us who've been involved for decades in efforts to accomplish both--attempting to transform education as well as trying to end poverty and inequality--that was a supreme insult.

WaPo's Valerie Strauss writes:
The speech revealed Duncan as being thin-skinned, but more striking was what else it showed: that the education secretary still doesn’t seem to understand what many of his critics are saying.
Anthony Cody responds on his Living in Dialogue blog:
The insulting way that Secretary Duncan chooses to characterize those who disagree with his policies really speaks for itself.  He divides the world into those who he sees "doing the work," who may have concerns - which he, of course, shares, and those who disagree. Once we actively disagree, we become part of some "blogosphere," or "bubble," which, by his definition, is engaging in idle carping that undermines those in the "real world."
Diane Ravitch, whose latest book has many more than 140 characters, has been among the sharpest critics of Duncan's Race To The Top policies. Duncan's people at the DOE have been "monitoring" her for years and using their power and embedded media to try and discredit her.

She responds to Duncan's diatribe here.


  1. Duncan is a disgrace. He acts like a tinhorn dictator instead of a public servant. That's what happens when you have an unqualified bureaucrat running things because he had political connections back in Chicago.

  2. Diane Ravitch's book has them circling the wagons. Lashing out at critics.

  3. As any basketball junkie can see, Arnie only goes to his "right".


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