I did not go to the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association in San Francisco, so was not aware of what is described in this post. Jennifer Jennings says that Arne Duncan was booed when he spoke, and she apologized to Secretary Duncan for the behavior of her fellow researchers.

Why was Secretary Duncan booed, and should AERA (or anyone else) apologize for the booing?

Booing is the behavior of the powerless. Educators are angry–and Jennings knows this–because of the top-down, authoritarian way in which Duncan has imposed policies that are bad for children, ruinous for teachers, and harmful to the quality of education. Jennings also knows that Duncan holds all the power. Educators may write blogs, opinion pieces, books, and research studies, and they will be completely ignored by Duncan. To say the least, he is uninterested in dialogue and unwilling to change his hardened belief that his policies are successful, no matter what anyone says.

In New York City, our mayor proudly announced that the public should hold him accountable for improving the public schools. After he spent $100 million or so to win a new term, someone in the press asked Mayor Bloomberg how the public could hold him accountable. He answered: “They can boo me at parades.”

How can we hold Secretary Duncan accountable?

He is silent as teachers and principals are fired based on test scores. He is silent as beloved schools are closed because of test scores. He is silent as cities turn their public schools over to entrepreneurs. He is silent as for-profit businesses take over public school districts and as for-profit charters proliferate. He is silent as more and more states adopt vouchers to send public money to religious schools. He is actively abetting the misuse of testing. He is actively supporting the forces of privatization.

We know now he will not change course. The only question is whether public education will survive Arne Duncan.

I condemn his misguided and harmful policies, not the researchers who used the only means of protest available to them. What he is doing to our children, our teachers, and our schools is far more offensive than booing. Will Arne Duncan ever apologize to the children, parents, and educators of America for what he has done and continues to do?