Earlier today, I posted about the battle in New Mexico over the confirmation of Hanna Skandera. Skandera wants to import Jeb Bush’s “Florida Model” of testing, school grading, charters, vouchers, and online corporations to New Mexico. She worked for Bush, Spellings, and Schwarzenegger. Her views are identical to those of Romney. Yet as the linked article points out, Skandera was invited to the White House and warmly praised by Duncan. What gives?
I am reminded that Duncan hailed Bobby Jindal’s choice of John White as state superintendent and lavishly praised him as a “visionary leader.” I am reminded that he was a featured speaker at Jeb Bush’s “summit” last year for entrepreneurs. I am reminded of March 2011, when demonstrators encircled the state Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin, and President Obama was in Miami, describing Jeb Bush as a “champion of education reform.” (The school they both saluted as a successful “turnaround,” Miami Central High, narrowly escaped closure by the state for poor performance only three months later.)
I don’t understand why Obama and Duncan have not taken a strong stand against the opening of for-profit charter schools–or for that matter, any stand at all. I don’t understand why they have not campaigned against the spread of vouchers. They may be against them, but only in a soft voice.
I truly don’t understand the loyalty that Duncan (and Obama) have to the policies of rightwing Republicans, those most eager to close public schools and privatize them.
I don’t understand why Obama and Duncan embrace the destructive anti-teacher, anti-community, anti-student policies of the corporate reformers. Why aren’t they fighting those who blame teachers for the ills of society, who make testing the goal of education, who shatter communities by closing their public schools, who see public schools as profit centers and children as commodities?
A reader from New Mexico sent the following, with a link to Duncan’s warm words about Skandera.
“Ms. Skandera, NM’s Secretary of Education, Designate brought several reforms from Flordia. Governor Martinez’ education platform was the Florida Model. During her campaign AFT-NM fought long and hard to inform their members on what this model looked like. However, a large number of teachers voted for her regardless her promise to make New Mexico’s education system the same as Florida’s.
It is difficult to comprehend why teachers voted against their profession.
However, even more difficult is to accept is the “love fest” between Skandera, Arne Duncan and President Obama. Duncan and Obama cannot praise Skandera enough. I am including one of many links to show this admiration: http://www.abqjournal.com/main/2011/09/24/news/nm-school-reform-efforts-get-boost.html.
Many New Mexico educators, myself included, find this admiration “club” extremely insulting.”