Archives for category: Duncan, Arne

Jeff Bryant of the Education Opportunity Network writes in Salon that voters are increasingly disenchanted with the bipartisan Bush-Obama education policies of high-stakes testing, Common Core, and privatization.

He points out that the attacks on public education are not playing well at all in the political arena. The overwhelming majority of parents are very happy with their local public schools and respect their teachers. The public is beginning to see through the lies they have been told about their schools. So much of the rhetoric of the “reformers” sounds appealing and benign, if not downright inspirational, but it ends up as nonstop testing, the closing of local public schools, merit pay, union-busting, the enrichment of multinational corporations, and standardization.

Bryant predicts that Democrats will suffer at the polls for their slavish espousal of hard-right GOP doctrine.

He writes:

“The only overriding constants? People generally like their local schools, trust their children’s teachers and think public school and teachers should get more money. Wonder when a politician will back that!

“Many observers, including journalists at The Wall Street Journal, have accurately surmised that the American public is currently deeply divided on education policy. But that analysis barely scratches the surface.

“Go much deeper and you find that the “new liberal consensus” that Adam Serwer wrote about in Mother Jones, which propelled Obama into a second term, believes in funding the nation’s public schools but has little to no allegiance to Obama’s education reform policies.

“Outside of the elite circles of the Beltway and the very rich, who continue to be the main proponents of these education policies, it is getting harder and harder to discern who exactly is the constituency being served by the reform agenda.

“Most Americans do not see any evidence that punitive measures aimed at their local schools are in any way beneficial to their children and grandchildren. In fact, there’s some reasonable doubt whether the president himself understands it.

So is Arne Duncan making education policy on his own? Or is the policy agenda of the Obama administration indistinguishable from that of rightwing Republicans like Bobby Jindal, Rick Scott, Scott Walker, John Kasich, Mike Pence, and Tom Corbett?

When Arne Duncan visited Boston recently, he lamented the sorry state of public education in Massachusetts–the highest scoring state in the nation on NAEP, a state whose students have been ranked at the top of international tests—and he praised privately managed charter schools for their excellence. For reasons he has never publicly explained, he wants to see more public dollars and students turned over to unaccountable corporations. He is a cheerleader for privately managed charters and the nation’s chief critic of public education. He aids and abets the movement to privatize public education. As public policy, this is irresponsible. To call this bizarre is an understatement.

When Duncan spoke with a columnist from the Boston Globe, he alleged that 40% of the high school graduates in the state require remediation when they get to college.

In this post, Carol Burris demonstrates that Duncan was confused, misinformed, or worse.

Duncan told the columnist that 40%–a”staggering” number of students—need college remediation.

Burris writes:

” What is “staggering” is the gross inaccuracy of the claim. Here are the facts:

“Twenty-two percent of the students who attend four-year state universities in Massachusetts and 10 percent of the students who attend the University of Massachusetts take at least one remedial course. That group (students who attend four-year public colleges) comprises 28 percent of all high school graduates in the Commonwealth.

“Thirty percent of all Massachusetts graduates attend private four-year colleges. Although I could not find remediation rates for such students, we know that nationally 15 percent of students who attend not-for-profit four-year colleges or universities take remedial courses.

“Using the above, I estimate that the percentage of students in Massachusetts who attend four-year colleges and take remedial courses is roughly 17 percent, not the 40 percent that Duncan claimed.”

It is also staggering that the U.S. Secretary of Education does not have accurate data about our nation’s highest-performing state.

And it is staggering that the columnist feels no need to fact-check the data.

And most staggering of all is that Duncan wants to harm our nation’s public education system, which is part of the fabric of our democracy.

What is his goal?

As EduShyster said in her previously noted post, Arne Duncan’s visit to Boston gave him another opportunity to tout charter schools as the answer to what ails American education, and to tell his favorite writer at the Boston Globe how terrible U.S. public education is.

Although Massachusetts is the highest performing state in the nation and performs as if it were one of the highest performing nations in the world on international exams, Duncan took a swipe at Massachusetts and said its students were simply not good enough for global competition.

Only “no excuses” charters win Duncan’s admiration. These are the schools that have high rates of suspension and expulsion, high rates of teacher turnover, and elaborate, often harsh disciplinary rules for children. He took the opportunity to repeat the claim that “charter schools are public schools” even though charter schools in New York City and elsewhere have gone to court to say that they are NOT public schools. Just a few days ago, Eva Moskowitz’s charter chain won a court ruling saying that her charters cannot be audited by the State Comptroller because they are NOT public schools. In California, the state charter school association said that charter founders convicted of misappropriating $200,000 should not be held accountable because their charters were NOT public schools.

Want to know who wrote the book praising no-excuses charters for their “new paternalism“? David Whitman, Arne Duncan’s speechwriter. The best charter in the nation, at the time, he said, was the American Indian Model School in Oakland, where the founder got rid of the American Indian students and replaced them with Asian-American students, where he humiliated students who didn’t follow his rules, where he mocked unions and “multiculturalism,” where he was finally pushed out after an audit found nearly $4 million missing.

Will someone please explain why Arne Duncan has so much contempt for American public education, its teachers, its students, and their parents?

EduShyster here breaks the story of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s secret trip to Boston.

It must have been secret because, she reports, not a word appeared in the Boston media.

He used his time in Boston to tout “no excuses” charter schools and a “turnaround” school that demonstrated the great success of his grand theory: Fire everyone and the school miraculously improves. But, as EduShyster points out, he did not visit the schools where the same tactic produced failure, not success.

EduShyster points out that the Boston charters enroll 12% of the city’s children but collect 50% of state aid.

Then he toured Worcester, where he was greeted by anti-Common Core protestors.

In Worcester, the school board has courageously given parents the right to opt their children out of PARCC pilot testing–a move opposed by the state. The school board was not invited to meet Arne or even informed of his stealth visit.

Arne ended his Massachusetts tour with a visit to the Match Graduate School of Education, that unique institution that has no scholars or researchers; its sole purpose is to train teachers for no-excuses charter schools. Arne showed them lots of love, not mentioning the high attrition rate of their graduates.

Washington State legislators refused to accept Arne Duncan’s demand that teachers be evaluated by a flawed and erroneous method, and the state seems certain to lose its NCLB waiver.

“That would mean that, starting in 2014-2015, school districts throughout the state would lose control over roughly $38 million in Title I funds designed to help low-income students.

“Loss of the waiver would also mean districts throughout the state would have to redirect an additional $19 million in Title I money toward professional development and teacher training, according to OSPI.

“It’s going to result in the loss of programs for our students who are the most in need,” said Sen. Bruce Dammeier, a Puyallup Republican who supported changing the teacher-evaluation system to keep the state’s waiver.

“The U.S. Department of Education told Washington leaders in August that the state’s waiver would be at risk unless lawmakers moved to mandate the use of statewide tests in teacher evaluations.

“Schools today may use solely local tests to measure student growth when evaluating teachers and principals – a standard the federal government has deemed unacceptable.

“But several lawmakers said they didn’t want to interfere with the state’s new teacher and principal evaluation system — which is being used for the first time this year — just to meet federal demands.

“Of course I am concerned from the perspective of a local district,” said state Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos, a Seattle Democrat who chairs the House Education Committee.

“Yet I am concerned on the other hand that we (would) establish bad policy for the entire state of Washington.”

Read more here:

Professor David Hursh of the University of Rochester visited New Zealand, where he explained so-called “education reform” in the United States. He very bluntly describes the bipartisan agenda that is proving to be harmful to students, teachers, and public education.

Hursh met with educators in Australia and New Zealand over a five-week period, encouraging them to resist the high-stakes testing movement.

In an earlier post today, I described the use of FUD (fear, uncertainty,and doubt) to destroy public confidence in public education and thus pave the way for privatization. The vendors of FUD say our education system, which made this country great, is failing; that it is obsolete; that we are losing the global race. It is a massive hoax, a fraud, a lie. They want to frighten the public and open the door to privatization and profiteering.

Robert Shepherd shows how FUD works in the marketing of Common Core, which was created to address our allegedly failing schools. Just remember: our schools are NOT failing. Our society is failing to address the real crisis of our time, which is that nearly one-quarter of our children live in poverty, and many are racially segregated as well. The Commin Core won’t change those scandalous realities.

Shepherd, an experienced curriculum developer, writes:

“And be these juggling fiends no more believed,
That palter with us in a double sense

–William Shakespeare, Macbeth

According to the amusing Wikipedia article on the subject, agnotology is the intentional cultural production of ignorance. It’s what advertisers and the leaders of oligarchical states do. They manufacture ignorance in order to further their goals. When it became clear to the cigarette companies that their product was extremely dangerous to people’s health, they started running ads that read “9 out of 10 doctors agree, there’s not a cough in a carload.” That’s agnotology.

One of the primary means by which the agnotologist works is equivocation. Equivocation is a kind of lying that SOUNDS as though it might be true. To see agnotological equivocation brought to the level of a high art, you need but look no further than the webpage from the Common Core State Standards Organization (the CCSSO) that describes the “myths” surrounding the Common Core. Each “myth” described on the Common Core page and in other Education Deform propaganda is, in fact, the unspun truth. In other words, the Education Deformers are highly accomplished agnotologists. A few examples will illustrate their technique:

“The Common Core State Standards were developed by teachers”

means that teachers had almost nothing to do with them, that a few teachers were selected to rubber stamp work done by amateurs from outside the profession who were hired with money from plutocrats and given the task of hacking those standards together based on the lowest-common-denominator groupthink of the state standards that preceded them.

“The standards were freely adopted by the states”

means that the USDOE gave the states no choice but to adopt them or suffer severe penalties that would come from not getting NCLB waivers. The “State” in “Common Core State Standards” is, quite simply, a lie. The standards were not developed by states but by a PRIVATELY HELD pair of organizations that hold a copyright on them.

“The new standards will unleash powerful market forces to encourage innovation”

means that the national standards will create markets at a scale at which only monopolistic providers of unimaginative educational materials can compete. It means the Walmartization, the Microsofting of U.S. education. It also means that in due time the CCSSO and the National Governor’s Association, or NGA, will start using the legal system to control the market for educational materials by deciding what materials will and will not receive its OK to claim alignment with its PRIVATELY HELD standards.

“The states are free to adapt the standards as they see fit”

means that the states can’t change them at all, that the most states can do is to add a few, but very few, standards to the CC$$ bullet list. The number of standards added can be no more than 15 percent of the total, and otherwise, the standards must be adopted without change (and without any mechanisms for change in the future other than the whim of the private organization that created the standards to begin with).

“The plutocrats have no seat at the table where educational policy is made” (Arne Duncan)

means that a small group of plutocrats paid for and directed the creation of the standards, the revised FERPA regulations, the new VAM systems, and the USDE technology blueprint. It also means that those same plutocrats are providing a lot of the money that is going into the development and marketing of the new national online bubble tests. It means that education policy is being made based on what serves the financial interests of the plutocrats. It means that the current deforms are the plutocrats’ business plan.

“The standards are not a curriculum”

means, in math, that they are a curriculum outline and in ELA that a) they dramatically narrow the possibilities for curricula and b) contain a great many items that clearly do specify curricula

“The standards don’t tell you how to teach” or “The standards do not specify pedagogical approaches

means that some pedagogical approaches are required in order for the standards, as worded, to be met and that MOST APPROACHES that might be conceived by independent teachers, scholars, researchers, and curriculum developers are precluded.

“The new national tests introduce breakthroughs in question types in order to test high-order thinking”

means that some minor online variants of fill-in-the-blank, matching, ordering, and other stock bubble test questions types have been introduced. So, for example, instead of filling in a blank, the student clicks on and moves an item to a blank.

“US schools are falling behind on international tests, thus making the standards and new national assessments necessary,”

means that US schools appear to be performing poorly if one does not correct for the socioeconomic status of the kids taking the test. If one does correct for SES, US schools and students lead the world.

“The Secretary of Education is the chief officer of the national public school system”
means that he is the fellow whom the oligarchs have put in charge of dismantling that system and replacing it with online and brick-and-mortar charters, voucher systems, and private schools run by well-connected profiteers.

“We’ve seen great improvements due to the accountability system put in place by NCLB”

means that scores have been almost flat and that the more than a decade of standards-and-testing that was supposed to “Leave no child behind” hasn’t worked at all to change overall outcomes or to put a dent in the achievement gap.

Poverty is not destiny”

means that the powers that be are going to ignore poverty and use the whips of VAM and testing instead.

So, agnotology, and, in particular, agnotology via equivocation, has become the PRIMARY MEANS OF GOVERNANCE of our K-12 educational system. In other words, our national education policies are, cynically, being formulated and enforced via LIES and, in particular, via means of that variety of LYING known as EQUIVOCATION.

And the leaders (LIARS) doing this governance are counting on having made the public so ignorant, via such equivocation, that it will not oppose their complete circumvention of democratic processes.

They are counting on the fact that their plutocrats, the guys with the checkbooks, can buy all the PR that is needed to keep the people in ignorance.

That’s how things work in a banana republic. The plutocrats purchase the political muscle to carry out their plans. In time, that muscle, the leaders/liars don’t even try to hide the fact that they are lying. They do it completely shamelessly. In fact, being able to lie shamelessly without having anyone call you out on it is a sign of enormous power, and to such people, to quote Kissinger’s infamous line, “Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.”

Civil rights lawyer Wendy Lecker writes that Arne Duncan has sold the American public a bill of goods, a false narrative. He and David Colemn think that national standards will fix all the problems of American education. She says they are wrong. Their bad ideas are the problem. They are wrong.

She writes:

“Before the Common Core, according to Duncan, high school success was a “lie” — it certainly did not mean that students were “college ready.”

“What a compelling, but false, narrative. A new peer-reviewed longitudinal nationwide study confirmed that the most reliable predictor of cumulative college GPA and college graduation is a student’s high school GPA.

“The study, co-authored by former Bates College Dean of Admissions William Hiss, examined more than 123,000 student records at public and private universities across the country, universities serving predominately minority students and art schools. It compared those who submitted SAT or ACT scores for admission to those who did not.

“The authors found students with strong high school records succeeded in college, despite lower standardized test scores. Strong testers with lower GPAs had lower college performance. Non-submitters tended to be women, first-generation college students, PELL grant recipients, students of color and students with learning disabilities. The authors found a broad geographic appeal to non-submissions.

“All of the students in this study attended school prior to the adoption of the Common Core State Standards. Many began school well before the No Child Left Behind Act. They graduated from a variety of schools across the country, learned different curricula in states with different standards. Their GPAs did not depend on standardized tests. Yet consistently, their high school GPAs were reliable predictors of college success. If these students succeeded in American high schools, no matter what the curricula, standards or assessments, they succeeded in American colleges, public or private, large or small.

“This fact undermines the claims that American students need national standards, standardized curricula and nationally standardized tests in order to be “college and career ready.” The high school teachers of students in this study accurately assessed their achievement, and taught them what they needed to know to do well in college — without common standards, scripted lessons or a nationalized test. In fact, the data show that the two national standardized tests, the SAT and ACT, were poor predictors of college success.”

Turns out that teachers’ grades are better predictors of college success than the SAT, the ACT, or other standardized tests.

Bill Phillis, the leader of the Ohio Coalition for Education & Adequacy is a tireless crusader for equitable funding of public schools. He is a retired after serving as assistant state superintendent of schools.

He writes:

Public education enemy #1

The Gates, Walton Family and Broad Foundations have federated with the U. S. Department of Education to eliminate the public common school system. The Obama administration’s point man, Arne Duncan, is spearheading an assault on public education that is unprecedented in American history. He is attempting to override the education provisions of every state Constitution. All states have one or more constitutional provisions that establish and maintain a public common school system.

It is mindboggling and unconscionable that this federal administration is deferring to the corporate, for-profit agenda to destroy the premier promoter of the public good-the public common school system.

Policies coming out of Washington D.C., and in many state capitols, are demoralizing teachers, undermining the traditional role and governance of boards of education, de-professionalizing the teaching profession, re-segregating American communities and reducing the traditional dynamic of learning to a testing obsession.

Many chief state school officers in recent years are moles of the privatizers or lack the conviction to fight for the public common school system. Hence, state legislatures and governors, in many cases, receive no resistance to their privatization agenda.

Often local public school personnel, including boards of education, feel helpless to stem the tide of public school bashing and the privatization movement.

Enough is enough. It is past time to hold all state officials accountable for their support of policies that lead to the privatization of public education.

Ohioans and the citizens of the nation, when mobilized, can uproot the anti-public education agenda of America’s oligarchs and their plutocratic political allies.

William Phillis
Ohio E & A

Ohio E & A | 100 S. 3rd Street | Columbus | OH | 43215

Peter Greene has a ball with the U.S. Department of Education’s latest fantasy plan: Every child has a civil right to a “highly qualified teacher.”

Who is a “highly qualified teacher”? Any teacher who can raise test scores or anyone who belongs to Teach for America and leaves before the third year of test scores are reported.

It is all super but here is the laugh-out-loud deconstruction of Duncan-style logic:

“Discussion of teaching as a civil right often circles back around to the assertion that poor students have more lousy teachers than non-poor students. This assertion rests primarily on a model of circular reasoning. Follow along.

“A) Teachers are judged low-performing because their students score poorly on tests.

“B) Students low test scores are explained by the fact that they have low-performing teachers.

“Or, framed another way, this argument defines a low-quality teacher as any teacher whose students don’t do well on standardized tests. The assumption is that teachers are the only single solitary explanation for student standardized test scores. Nothing else affects those scores. Only teacher behavior explains the low scores. That’s it.

“Ergo, the best runners are runners who run down hills. Runners who are running uphill are slow runners, and must be replaced by those good runners– the ones we find running downhill. Or, the wettest dogs are the ones who are out in the rain, while the driest ones are the ones indoors. So if we take the indoor dogs outside, we will have drier dogs in the yard. While it rains.

“As long as we define low-quality teachers as those who teach low-achieving students (who we know will mostly be the children of poor folk), low-achieving students will always be taught by low-quality teachers. It’s the perfect education crisis, one that can never, ever be solved.”


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