What Experts Are Saying about Education Reform under Arne Duncan

January 7th, 2016

Here are a few quotes from those in the know commenting on Arne Duncan’s legacy, now gone from his post as U.S. education secretary, and the many efforts over the years to “fix” our public schools. Have they got it right, or are you in favor of the changes taking place? Either way, here you go:

** “So Duncan leaves as he came–making word-noises that actually sound pretty good but are attached to policies and a reality that does not reflect them at all. Duncan never held himself responsible for the progress of students, choosing instead to blame bad, lazy teachers and low-information parents (so long, white suburban moms) and a Congress that wouldn’t behave as he wanted it to. He never held himself responsible by bothering to see if there was a lick of real research and support for any of his favored policies, from “high standards” to VAM-sauce teacher evaluations to the fundamental question of how schools could be held responsible for erasing the effects of poverty and special needs while states could not be held responsible for getting those schools the resources and support they needed. Duncan leaves as he arrived–eyes fixed on some alternate reality while in the real world, he hacks public education to bits and sells off the pieces. And he’s perfectly okay with ESSA [Every Student Succeeds Act]. That is not a good sign.” ~ Peter Greene, former educator and Curmudgucation blogger

** “How long will we keep doing this? For 50 years, bureaucrats and social scientists have used our schools as laboratories for their latest theory and incubators for a more egalitarian society. Standardization is now the goal. Real excellence is thought to be elitist and undemocratic. The educationalists have taken the P our of the PTA and reduced our schools to a cinder-block-and-linoleum gulag of mind-numbing mediocrity. By profiling students as victims who are somehow ‘at risk’ because of their race, gender, native tongue, or family income, and then mandating special programs to save them from their alleged plight, the U.S. Department of Eduction has run the classic bureaucratic scam…” ~ Kenneth S. Goodman, professor emeritus of the University of Arizona

** “We shouldn’t want all of our public schools to be uniform. When everyone teaches the same things, it means we leave out the same things. There is far too much to know in this world than can ever be taught or learned in one lifetime. Choices will always need to be made. The question is who should make them?” ~ Steven Singer, educator

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