Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Duplicitous Duncan

I loved Diane Ravitch's account of her summer encounter with Arne Duncan. It took place at an Aspen cocktail party where Duncan was the guest of honor.
The setting was beyond splendid, in a gorgeous home overlooking the valley. Secretary Duncan introduced a man who had led a campaign to build playgrounds, in fact, had created some 2,000 playgrounds. When introducing his friend, Secretary Duncan said that there was nothing more important for young children than having time for unstructured play, time to tinker, time to make things with their hands. He was wonderful. Knowing how much the U.S. Department of Education has promoted high-stakes testing, I was puzzled. My puzzlement turned to bewilderment a few days later when the Department of Education announced that the next round of Race to the Top would require the testing of 4- and 5-year-old children. Wait, I wondered, what about time for unstructured play, tinkering, etc.? So, yes, a fascinating event. I wouldn't have missed it.

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