Well, you can't win 'em all. While I had no expectations that the Obama team would select the only progressive educator on the list for Sec. of Ed, I had hoped he would steer clear of the hatchet-swinging, test crazy, union busting, NCLB-loving, privatization-minded, Klein-Rhee-Vallas-Duncan types. Now some of my friends here in Chicago have argued with me, that Duncan is really not that way--that he's more of a compromise pick somewhere in the middle of Klein and Linda Darling-Hammond.
After all, they point out, Duncan got Randi Weingarten's stamp of approval along with that of Margaret Spellings. Everybody to the right of left-center field and left of Rush Limbaugh should be happy with this pick. Duncan isn't an ideologue, they argue. He'll be a decent bully-pulpit spokesman for urban public education, especially now that he's out from under the thumb of Daley. And the good side is, it might open the way for some changes here in the Windy City, where the disaster that is Renaisance 2010 has but a year to go and hopefully will go the way of NCLB.
Up until yesterday, I thought that the fallout over Blagojevich might reach all the way to City Hall, thereby making a Chicago pick for SOE too risky. But then I came to my senses.
My feeling is that these battles over cabinet posts tend to be ultra-divisive and sap the energy of progressive educators. Whoever is running the DOE is going to be a damn sight better than what we've had the past eight years. The struggle continues either way and the battle over real education reform will remain contested territory.
Is that sour grapes talking? Maybe a little.