Valerie Strauss read Arne Duncan’s book. There is nothing Duncan did or said during his seven years as Secretary of Education that moved us beyond the stale and failed ideas in George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind. In education, W. got another two terms for policies that were wrong from the beginning, based on the erroneous belief that schools and teachers needed to be published if scores don’t go up.

Valerie Strauss has a long memory. She recounts just a few of the times Duncan accused educators or parents of “lying” to students, telling them they were doing better in school than they were. He has a low opinion of our students and their teachers. She notes that he continues to believe that standardized testing is the very best way to gauge how students are faring and whether their teachers are any good.

Duncan seems to believe that calling people “liars” is a successful tactic.

He wasted billions on his “School Improvement Grants” and discounts his own department’s judgement that his ideas failed. His campaign for school choice paved the way for Betsy DeVos and her even bigger campaign for school choice.

She writes:

“Duncan still thinks, apparently, his biggest mistake involved poor communication rather than the substance of the policies. If only the Education Department had better communicators, the states could have convinced everyone that standardized testing is valuable in holding schools and teachers accountable — even though there’s no evidence of that in the testing era that began with the 2002 No Child Left Behind law.

“Let’s be clear: Ample evidence exists that Duncan’s push for annual standardized testing for high-stakes decisions on teachers, students and schools was destructive and in some cases nonsensical. In some places, teachers were evaluated on students they didn’t have and subjects they didn’t teach simply because test scores had to be used as an evaluation metric.

“He still insists the problem was lousy communication.

“Duncan is now focused on gun control and says he has long been concerned about the subject, but he didn’t make it a priority when he was education secretary.

“Back then, he talked about the importance of kids being in class every weekday and supported expanding the school day, but now he is trying to build support for a nationwide strike of public schools until Congress passes comprehensive gun-control legislation. (Given the importance of education to him, it is unclear why he didn’t call for a general strike of workers, while kids and teachers continued to show up at school, but never mind.) He’s been to Parkland, Fla., where 17 people died in a high school shooting, seeking the community’s help with the boycott idea.

“In his book, he wrote that if he could do the education-secretary stint over again, he would push even harder for his policies. It is reminiscent of the insistence by Margaret Spellings, the education secretary under President George W. Bush when No Child Left Behind was passed, that the federal law was great long after its fatal flaws had been revealed to most everyone else.

“Arne Duncan never seems to learn.”