Arne Duncan wrote a book about his seven years as Secretary of Education and is now promoting it and touting his record. You know, the record where teachers were demonized as lying to kids, kids were belittled as dummies, and parents were belittled for not embracing the Common Core.

Peter Greene read an interview with Arne and realized that he learned nothing from his experience.

He begins:

“Never mind a Secretary of Education who has never taught anything; I’m beginning to think it would be a step forward if we had a Secretary of Education who has ever learned anything.

“Arne Duncan was interviewed for the pages of US News, and the resulting piece reminds us, first, that there’s not nearly as much difference between Duncan and DeVos as some Democrats would like to believe, and second, that Duncan remain unrepentant and unenlightened about anything that happened under his watch. So join me in yelling fruitlessly at the computer screen as we walk through this trip down Delusion Lane.

“Chicken Little’s History of School

“Count Duncan as a member of the Century Club– that special group of reformsters that is certain schools haven’t changed in 100 years. Arne would also like to beat the expired equine about how “other nations out-educating, out-investing, out-innovating us.” Because, you know, we’re competing with India and China and Singapore for jobs. That’s certainly true, but at no point is it going to occur to Duncan that those countries compete by offering little or no regulation and workers who will do the job for pennies. In all the times I’ve heard the “we must change education to compete with China” refrain, not once have I heard an explanation of how education will help American workers better compete with people working under conditions we wouldn’t accept for wages we couldn’t live on. Arne wants us to now that our kids– his kids– are going to grow up in that world. And if you think Arne’s kids, raised in privilege and comfort, are going to be competing with some Chinese smartphone assembler for work, well– I have a bridge over a swamp to sell you.

“This guy. This frickin’ guy.

“Oh, and we are not in the top 10 internationally. Which– first, what does that even mean? Top 10 ranked by what? Because if, as I would guess, he means test scores, let me repeat for the gazzillionth time that we have never, ever been in the Top 10 for international test scores. Nor has Duncan ever offered a shred of evidence that being in the Top 10 of test scores translates into any sort of national achievement like higher GDP or higher standard of living or happier citizens or military might or best frozen desserts!

“Duncan’s Diagnosis and That Damned Status Quo

“Having failed to effectively define the problem, Duncan now goes on to offer his idea about the cause.

“This is not a cure for cancer, this is not rocket science. It’s total lack of political will. And I think the politics of the left and the right stand in the way of what’s best for kids.

“Well, actually, it is too rocket science. Duncan’s thesis is that fixing schools is actually quite easy; we’re just not willing to do it, because after all this time, he still doesn’t realize how complex and complicated it is to run an entire educational system. And Duncan doesn’t seem to know what he’s trying to change because he also notes “There’s a small number of political leaders willing to challenge the status quo.”

“Dammit, Arne.

“First, the status quo in education right now is the status quo you help make. Common Core, in its various bastardized forms and under its various assumed names, is the status freakin’ quo, and an ugly obnoxious one it is, too. Schools and teachers being evaluated based on bad uses of bad data generated by bad tests– that’s status quo, too. As is the draining of resources from public schools by private charterized schools. These are all problems, these are all status quo, and these are all a legacy in part of your administration.

“Second, the idea that you need political leaders to change the educational system shows a fundamental misunderstanding of how the education system (and, for that matter, the political system) works. You need teachers and education leaders and actual trained professional educators to change an educational system, yet another fact we can put on the list of Things You Don’t Understand. All these years, and you still treat teachers like the hired help, certain that your amateur insights are more important than anything they might have to say.

“Duncan also thinks we need Republicans to challenge their base, and I’m not sure where he’s coming from here, because other than a deadly aversion to the words “common core,” the GOP base is in tune with most of the Duncan program. Duncan offers Obama’s championing of merit pay as a profil;e in courage because “that’s very hard to do” and well, yes, it’s hard to do because we have lots of evidence that merit pay doesn’t work. There’s nothing courageous about standing up for a bad idea.”

I don’t think anyone told Arne that his own Department evaluated Race to the Top and concluded it was a flop.