Posts Tagged ‘Arne Duncan’

New York Post Conjures Up New Common Core Villain: Driven, Snobbish Yet Cowardly Parents

April 10, 2016

Its always a good sign when shills for those who are systemically attempting to undermine public education, the better to privatize it, are reduced to making public arguments that read like they are written by a person on a six day drunk. Such is the study in utter incoherence found in today’s New York Post under the headline, Common Core opt-out movement is parents who can’t handle their kids failing by Naomi Schaefer Riley.

Post g

Providing no evidence for her conclusions, mixing in a not so subtle accusation of snobbery,(” upper-middle class white parents “) adding a dose of gross civic negligence (“depriving parents, schools and taxpayers of valuable information about how well (or badly) we are educating our kids”) citing articles and systems that mock the very tests she is so desperately defending, Riley adds a new twist to Arne Duncan’s insulting statement of a few years back about “white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were, and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were ” who were therefore opting out.

Riley’s takes Duncan’s insulting idiocy even further. Riley’s Opt Out parents are “helicopter parents ” who are simultaneously almost psychotic about the academic progress and success of their children and at the same time “don’t want to risk the fact that they might fail.”

Hence, these moral cowards have their children opting out.
That’s it. That’s her argument.

I am the parent of a child who is opting out and will opt out just as long as the campaign to privatize education continues. The Common Core aligned tests, funded largely by the despicable and insidious Gates Foundation and designed to insure most children would fail and in failing provide a rationale for the corporate takeover of public schools, are the central nervous system of that campaign.

As such, it is my belief that it is my moral and ethical duty and the moral and ethical duty of all parents to opt out of this corporate imposition.

As a parent I would love to speak with Ms. Riley about her convictions and how she arrived at them. I would love to have her accuse me and other opt out parents of cowardice.

Somehow I don’t see that happening.

I know it’s the Post and, as such, a low bar but still I believe such a public display of outright incoherence is a small but good sign that we are winning even as I know this war will continue for a long, long time. Such is one of the logical outcomes of allowing less than 1% of a nation to own over 40% of the nation’s wealth.

King To Replace Duncan in DC Insuring that the Campaign to Privatize Public Schools Will Continue Unabated

October 2, 2015


Today it was announced that US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, he who has used the awesome power of the federal Government to wreak layered and relentless havoc on the entire public school system, will resign in December.

Duncan said he was resigning to spend more time with his family and stated, in what appeared to be complete seriousness, that he expected to find work “expanding opportunity for children.”

Duncan was the longest serving education secretary in U.S. history and easily the most appalling.

Even as candidate Obama campaigned with Linda Darling-Hammond, in a bait and switch maneuver that can now be seen as characteristic of his presidency,
President–elect Obama named non-educator Duncan Secretary of Education. The appointment, made at the insistence of Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), a group made up almost entirely of hedge fund managers, signaled that under Duncan the Department of Education would serve in essence as a conduit to the whims and wishes of private foundations, most prominently and disastrously, the Gates Foundation. These private interests,it must be said, Duncan has served with complete fidelity.

Tragically, Duncan will be replaced by former New York State Commissioner John King, whose obsequiousness in the face of wealth and power is equal to Duncan’s, likewise their shocking arrogance if not outright disdain for the public they nominally serve. Having taught three years in a classroom, two in a charter school, King has infinitely more teaching experience than Duncan who has zero. Not that this will make an iota of difference.

In essence, in terms of policy, Duncan will be replaced by Duncan or perhaps Duncan on steroids.

King was last seen on tour in New York condescending or dissembling to parents on stages in Poughkeepsie and New York City in a failed attempt to sell them the miserable and increasingly loathed Common Core. I caught his act in Manhattan where even shills from Students First and Educators For Excellence could not rescue King from his well-earned pathos.

Soon thereafter King resigned as Commissioner in New York only to emerge as an extremely well paid something-or-other in Duncan’s Department of Education where he has hung out ever since.
King’s appointment insures that the Obama administration’s signature education policies of high stakes testing linked to insane and immoral teacher evaluations, mandated charter schools, union busting and ultimate privatization of the public school system will continue until Obama leaves office. And that,in turn, insures not merely massive teacher shortages as teachers flee the profession, but student misery and parental outrage; above all it means billions of dollars in public money to testing companies and millions more to a multitude of other “education reform” parasites. Lastly, it also insures Barack Obama’s standing as the worst education president in the history of the public school system, far more effective in the destruction of public schools than Reagan, Clinton, and both George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush combined.

Duncan To Marry Common Core Standards

March 13, 2014
Secretary of Education and Civil Rights Leader Arne Duncan to Marry

Secretary of Education and Civil Rights Leader Arne Duncan to Marry

United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan stunned much of official Washington today when he announced that he plans to legally marry the Common Core State Standards “sometime in the very near future.” Mr. Duncan made his announcement at a press conference in the Rose Garden, surrounded by President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and new Under Secretary of Education, Ted Mitchell, former CEO of the NewSchools Venture Fund.

Reporters appeared to be momentarily silenced by what many considered the strangeness of the statement but quickly recovered and questioned both the timing of Duncan’s announcement and the authenticity of Duncan’s motives, as well as the legality of the act itself.
Duncan denied that the wedding was a symbolic gesture or a publicity stunt designed
to draw attention away from the volcanic parental rejection of the CCSS across
the country, especially in New York State.

“This is about love, said Duncan, his voice at times cracking with emotion and his eyes appearing to tear. “True and abiding love. And there’s no doubt in my
mind that the love I feel for the Core, the Core
feels for all the children of America, every last one of
them and especially those we want to help close the achievement gap.”

Duncan acknowledged that there are legal challenges in the unprecedented mating of man and document but, with Attorney General Eric Holder’s blessing, is determined to “ break new ground in the civil rights issue of our time.” Duncan links the proposed union to the larger struggle. “If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times,
education is the civil rights issue of our age. Our marriage is just another Rosa Parks’ moment on our way to helping all of our children become college and career ready.” Duncan, still legally married to Karen Luann Duncan, acknowledged that before the marriage to the Common Core could take place he had to first divorce his current wife. Holder is said to be personally involved in this process which he is prepared to expedite.

Duncan would neither deny nor confirm the rumor that Andrew Cuomo offered the use of the Governors mansion in Albany New York for the ceremony but did acknowledge that Cuomo would be a guest at the wedding.
A press release from the Department of Education revealed that the ceremony would be a gala and star-studded event with guests including Mark Zuckerberg, Wendy Kopp, Randi Weingarten, Oprah Winfrey, Mike Bloomberg, Sean “P Diddy” Combs, Bill and Melinda Gates, Joel Klein, Michelle Rhee, Bono, Eli Broad, David Coleman, Rupert Murdoch, John Legend, Jeb Bush, Thomas Friedman, Kid Rock, Bill Keller, Corey Booker, Whitney Tilson, Caroline Kennedy, as well as President Obama and First Lady, Michelle Obama.

The ceremony will be presided over by President Obama. David Coleman, the “architect” of the Common Core Standards, will give away the bride. Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Educators Association will serve as best man while American Federation of Teachers head Randi Weingarten has agreed to be the maid of honor.

The event will take place in an undisclosed location and will be funded in its entirety by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.


Note: This post is dedicated to the pea-heads in both the DOE and the NYPD who thought it a good idea to throw my courageous friend and colleague Francesco Portelos in jail for 33 hours for writing a piece as silly as this. Good thinking fellas! These are strange and terrifying times in which we dwell and we need more than ever to look after each other.

When Rigor Collides With Wonder

February 12, 2014

As in all campaigns in which fear and brainwashing are essential components, corporate education reform is highly dependent on and makes great use of repetition. As such, teachers across America have been forced to read, listen to, and at times regurgitate the same language — never our own — endlessly to please the current education overlords who, being non educators, are radically different from those who came before them.

I assure you the current overlords are not easily pleased.

Consider Commissioner John King or Secretary of Education Arne Duncan — not to mention those like Bill Gates and Eli Broad, from whom people like King and Duncan receive their orders.

One of the more disturbing and disturbingly repeated words one hears in school these days is “rigor.” Teachers need to demand and model rigor. Students must display rigor. Lessons must be built on rigor. There need be rigor all over the place. Just as the experimental Common Core State Standards are suddenly absolutely essential for our kids to be “college and career ready”, so too must teachers and students approach the sacred Core with ceaseless rigor. If not, the mantra goes, how in the world will they ever compete for jobs in the super savage new global economy?

Personally, I am appalled by the use of such a word in schools, no less now, in fact, then when I first encountered it at least 1000 usages ago. Consider its various meanings:

a (1) : harsh inflexibility in opinion, temper, or judgment : severity (2) : the quality of being unyielding or inflexible : strictness (3) : severity of life : austerity
b : an act or instance of strictness, severity, or cruelty
2: a tremor caused by a chill
3: a condition that makes life difficult, challenging, or uncomfortable; especially : extremity of cold
4: strict precision : exactness
5a obsolete : rigidity, stiffness
b : rigidness or torpor of organs or tissue that prevents response to stimuli
c : rigor mortis

Such a word could only have found its way into education by someone who has no experience whatsoever in education and no understanding of it. I have been told by many that the demand that this particular word be used and used and used comes from non other than monopolist Bill Gates, which makes perfect sense, given the way this man conducts his life as well as his fierce desire to conduct the life of everyone else on the planet.

I had an encounter with the word this morning. Or rather, I had an encounter with the success of the incessant propaganda that has been rammed into my head for the past two years concerning this thing called “rigor.” It was a disturbing revelation that repetition works, and works without you hardly being aware of it.

At first.

What happened was this: as my lesson ended and I and my students prepared to leave my room, one of my charges had wandered over to the window of my classroom and stood there looking at the window, motionless. I called to him by name once, twice, three times, but he moved not a muscle. I could feel anger welling up within me as I walked to the window to confront him on his disrespect and for screwing up my rigorous schedule and theirs. We had to move. Now. No time for dilly-dallying.

When I got to the window and looked at him looking out the window I was instantly disarmed: I encountered a face in something like rapture. I encountered a child in wonder.
“Look! “ he said to me, never moving his head and pointing. “Look! How beautiful! The snow! It’s everywhere!” He pointed here and there on the snow covered playground which a fourth floor window afforded an angle he’d not seen before.

The other children heard the elation in his voice and rushed over to where we stood. They began to peer out the window, ooing and ahhing. Suddenly, where there was one child there was a crowd of kids, big eyed and smiling, being children, happy.

It was an extremely humbling and revealing moment. And it was deeply moving. And it was beautiful.

It made me feel shame for the impatience I had felt for this child only a moment before. And it made me loathe that much the more the damned fools that have hijacked our school system and rammed their sadistic, ignorant notions down our throats and into our heads so that we, in turn, ram them down the throats and into the heads of innocent children.
And it made me that much more determined to expose and expel them.

Corporate Education Reformers Continue To Usurp and Debase the Language and Iconography of Civil Rights

January 9, 2014
 Gov. George Wallace standing in the schoolhouse doorway  not unlike how racists of today stand in the doorways of charter schools.

Gov. George Wallace standing in the schoolhouse doorway not unlike how racists of today stand in the doorways of charter schools.

Given the horrific history of race relations in the United States and our continued collective struggle to come to terms with this essential issue, of all the low life angles taken by corporate education reformers and their allies in government, none is lower and more repugnant than their calculated usurpation of the language and iconography of the blood stained civil rights movement. Arne Duncan began by braying on and on about how education is “the civil rights issue of our time ” ever since Obama installed him on his throne at the Department of Education in 2009. Duncan’s multi-millionaire hedge fund manager pals and the chorus of tax exempt-non-profit-organization warriors have been echoing the line ever since. And they have been doing so with absolute impunity. New Yorkers were treated to a variation of this theme just a few weeks ago during Commissioner John King’s “forum” in Brooklyn, where well fed, middle class white operatives of Michelle Rhee’s StudentFirstNY organization earned their pay by insinuating, when not our right declaring, that opposition to the Common Core State Standards was somehow depriving the African American children of Brooklyn their civil rights.
The corporate ed reformers and their allies have been repeating the line for so long they seem to be utterly oblivious to how offensive they are.

Consider the language and imagery of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in his speech at the Brookings Institute in Washington on Wednesday in his simultaneous defense of school “choice” and attack on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to make charter schools pay rent.
“Our committees in the House will remain vigilant in their efforts to ensure no one from the government stands in the school house door between any child and a good education,” said Cantor, in remarks at the Brookings Institution.”

As they are an allusion to one of the more repugnant if horrifically powerful images of the Civil Rights struggle, the words “ no one from the government stands in the school house door” leapt out at me and hit me like a hammer. And I suspect they did so to many with even a cursory knowledge of a time, not so long ago, when the power of the state was arrayed to uphold outright, undisguised, naked racism.

There is but one infamous “ stand in a schoolhouse door” moment in American history and Cantor, though a moral ignoramus, has to know this. The stand in the schoolhouse door was made at the University of Alabama by proto-Tea Partier, segregationist Governor George Wallace on June 11, 1963. Wallace’s stand was a symbolic gesture in a failed attempt to block the entry of two black students, Vivian Malone Jones and James Hood, into the university. The image made Wallace nationally famous, or infamous, overnight. Exactly as he knew it would.

It’s hard to believe that Cantor stumbled upon his choice of an image innocently. It is simply too loaded for that. And it is simply to powerful. And it’s hard to forgive someone who would use such words and such an image to implicitly link people like de Blasio or, by extension, anyone who opposes charter schools, with figures like George Wallace and his repugnant politics. But that is exactly why such words and the images they conjure up are used.

Someday, and hopefully soon, someone will write the comprehensive history of the corporate reform campaign and their ruthless and insidious campaign to privatize the American public school system. When that happens, there should be a chapter devoted exclusively to the wholesale usurpation and manipulation of the language and images of the Civil Rights Movement in this effort. For the souls of those who suffered so bravely and with such nobility, it is the very least that can be done. In the meantime, we do well by calling these people out for what they are: usurpers and worse.