"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilisation, it expects what never was and never will be...nor can they be safe with them without information. Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe." – Thomas Jefferson

Friday, August 19, 2011

Arne Duncan, How Dare You!

The race for President is in full swing. President Obama sent his friend, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, after one of the Republican front runners.

Valerie Strauss reported...
Arne Duncan blasts Rick Perry and Texas schools

Education Secretary Arne Duncan, coming out early and tough against Texas Gov. Rick Perry, said he feels “very, very badly for the children” in Texas who go to public schools under Perry’s administration.
Duncan was correct in what he said...
  • Perry is the one governor who is most at odds with the Obama administration's education policies. He even opted Texas out of the Race to the Top program.
  • Texas has seen massive increases in class size
  • Texas has cut funding -- the recently approved state budget included $4 billion in cuts to public schools, even though an extra 80,000 students are expected this academic year.
  • The effects of education cuts as well as slashes in Medicaid will fall disproportionately on Latinos, who make up 49 percent of K-12 public school students in the state.
  • Texas ranks 42nd in per-pupil spending in the United States and 43rd in high school graduation rates
This is all true. Perry has taken the public schools in Texas, already reeling from Bush's so-called Texas Miracle (see this debunking of said miracle), and damaged them even more.

What angers me, though, is that Arne Duncan is self-righteously blaming Perry while the Obama administration, under Duncan's leadership, has continued and increased the damage caused by No Child Left Behind.

Where are the rest of the Republicans?

At least Perry, unlike most Republicans, has the consistency to decry the massive federal intrusion into education caused by No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top.
Even as other Republicans have found bipartisan ground with Obama on education reform, Perry has repeatedly criticized Duncan’s Education Department, accusing it of attempting a “federal takeover of public schools” with the Race to Top competition in which states vied for federal funds by promising to implement specific education reforms.
(So where are all the Republican cries for "less government" when it comes to the destruction of America's public school system? Perry seems to be the only Republican voice who is consistent with the otherwise constant conservative voices shouting about how the government is too big.)

Are Teachers in Obama's Electoral Pocket?

Anthony Cody, in his Living in Dialogue blog has suggested that the Obama administration needs to firm up support among teachers before they just assume that we'll all follow in lock step and vote him into a second term. This despite the premature endorsement from the NEA.

In President Obama on Shaky Ground with Teachers: Can He Firm Up Support? Cody said,
From the start, Secretary Duncan has specialized in doubletalk. He has given innumerable speeches calling for us to avoid teaching to the test, at the same time his policies mandate that teacher pay and evaluations be based in part on test scores. When President Obama called for a reduction in standardized tests this year, Secretary Duncan insisted he was "on the same page," even though the Department of Education has put in motion a tremendous expansion of the frequency, scope and importance of tests.
How dare Secretary Duncan blame someone else for hurting public schools. He is the one wearing the corporate collar which is sucking the life out of public schools everywhere and crushing the spirit of public school teachers around the country.

Where was Duncan, defender of public education, when
It seems to me that if President Obama really wants our support he'll do what he should have done after his first week in office -- Dump Duncan.

Mr. President, play basketball with him if you want, but put a real live teacher in the Secretary of Education's chair.

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