Monday, March 30, 2009

The Gates, Duncan, Rhee troika

Bad news for public schools and teachers

It appears that the DOE is now operating on the Bill Gates Doctrine. A troika of Gates, Arne Duncan, and Michelle Rhee announce themselves in today's Fred Hiatt/Washington post column (Melinda Gates sits on the Post's board). Nearly all of Duncan's appointees at the DOE are current or former Gates people. Their philosophy: 1) teachers unions are the enemy, 2) teaching experience, certification, knowledge of the field don't count, 3) KIPP charter schools are the model, 4) and more focus on standardized testing.

Pitting teacher interest against kids' and families' seems to be the Gates/Duncan/Rhee mantra.
"The pendulum in the country has swung too far to adults," Duncan tells the post.

This pendulum theory of history shows how in-the-dark Duncan is. It hides the reality that politics, not gravity, drive educational policy and for the past eight years, this same top-down version of reform has been in play. It's been a dud in Chicago, Philly, D.C. and most everywhere else it's been tried. Can "reform" succeed without adults? Can it be done TO schools, teachers, and communities and not WITH them? We'll see.


  1. I think you're underplaying the extent to which this is Fred Hiatt announcing a troika. Otherwise, this is stuff we already know, and it still isn't clear whether or not, say, praising Michelle Rhee indicates future policy changes or placating the neo-reformers (well, probably it is some of both).

  2. I know where you're coming from on this Tom, and thanks for your input. I've been trying to use restraint and hold back on my Duncan critique, as you probably know. But this announcement by Hiatt was a well-planned release after meetings with the Post's editorial board. It also follows Duncan's visit to New Orleans where he clarified his policy agenda. You are right about "placating neo-reformers."


Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you.