Monday, April 15, 2019

Arne Duncan Makes Me Want To Punch Myself In The Brain

Arne Duncan still has a gift. I'm not talking about his ability to continually get bookings as an education, though that certainly counts as a gift in the sense that he has done nothing to earn it. No, I'm talking about his preternatural ability to raise my blood pressure.

He still hasn't gone away.
This morning, as the Board of Directors naps, I am scanning through a batch of edu-reporting that comes across my screen. I am looking at a summary of various stories from the balonyfest that is ASUGSV, when I get to a summary of a discussion of the "real" lessons of the college admissions scandal, and there I find this:

Arne Duncan, managing partner at Emerson Collective and former U.S. secretary of education, pointed out that students from wealthy families who score low on college readiness exams still have a better chance of graduating college than high-scoring students from lower-income families.

Well, duh. You might imagine that the very next sentence would be something like, "That's one more piece of proof that my policy of basing all district, school, and teacher accountability on scores from standardized tests based on allegedly college and career ready standards was a bunch of bunk, completely misguided, and a huge mistake that I now deeply regret." Ha, just kidding. Nobody familiar with Duncan would imagine that because another of Duncan's gift was a complete disconnect between the words that came out of his mouth and the policies that came out of his office. Duncan could-- and did-- wax rhapsodic about the importance of caring teachers building relationships with students in making a difference, and then go right back to demanding that those teachers be judged on their standardized test scores. He could talk about the importance of evidence and then go back to pushing policies for which there was no evidence-- or, as is the case here, pushing policies for which there was contrary evidence. Maybe the reportage here just cut out the moment of self-revelation and contrition, but history suggests not.

I mean, dammit, Arne-- you just admitted that test scores don't really tell us anything about college prospects, but here we all sit, saddled with test-centered policies that you set in cement for the whole country.

Duncan is reportedly a nice guy, but he is probably Trumpian in his ability to talk out of all sides of his mouth without a single apparent moment of reflection or self-examination.

And Lord knows there's a lot to examine. For my money, while Betsy DeVos is a truly awful and unqualified Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan inflicted far more actual damage on the US public education system. Duncan owes the students, teachers, and parents of the US a huge apology. But we're never going to get it; he'll just keep saying things that we used to say to him in an attempt to get him to realize the wrongness of his policies, only he's never going to connect the dots. He'll just smile that derpy grin, head off to his next cushy edu-guru gig, cash some more checks, and never actually see all the destruction he caused. All that and periodically raising my blood pressure.


  1. "For my money, while Betsy DeVos is a truly awful and unqualified Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan inflicted far more actual damage on the US public education system."

    I very sincerely hope you were knocking on every piece of wood you could reach when you wrote that.

  2. It's a Chicago thing. Not joking.