Most educators and even most legislators seem to recognize that No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top have failed to “reform” American education. After 13 years of test-based evaluation and school closings, no one claims success. We need what: More of the same! Congress doesn’t know what to do to change a failed status quo. Feckless Arne Duncan, having failed in Chicago, now looks for scapegoats for the failure of the Bush-Obame bipartisan consensus.

Duncan has one sure ally: Tom Friedman of the Néw York Times

They are certain that American schools are terrible, even though test scores and graduation rates are at a historic high. They want us to be just like South Korea, where exams determine one’s life (see Mercedes Schneider on examination hell in Korea).

They blame parents. They blame teachers. They blame students. They blame schools.

They blame everyone but the obvious perpetrators: failed federal policies that undermine the autonomy of teachers, principals, superintendents, school boards, and states; budget cuts that have increased class sizes and narrowed curricula, closed libraries and eliminated social workers, nurses, psychologists, and guidance counselors; the highest child poverty rate of any advanced nation; the largest inequality gap in a century; rising levels of segregation; a popular culture that celebrates instant success, not the earnest hard work required for academic success; the ubiquity of distracting electronic toys: the intrusion of philanthropic behemoths like Gates, with its own failed solutions; a media indifferent to a rapacious privatization movement that cares more about budget-cutting and profiteering than education.

They are looking for blame in all the wrong places.