Arne Duncan miseducating our youth

Does he even listen to himself?

Fed Ed head Arne Duncan has already made his mark as the nation’s Exaggerator-in-Chief. His rhetorical style, which includes referring to his track record in Chicago as a “dramatic success,” seemed simply funny at first, but now folks are concerned that he has been misleading, if not outright lying to, the nation.

But it gets much, much worse when Duncan lectures African-American students on the legacy of Martin Luther King, and completely perverts that legacy.

According to this Ed. Department press release, on January 15, Dr. Martin Luther
King, Jr.’s 81st birthday, Secretary Duncan spoke to a full house
of 1,000 students at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta (where Dr.
King and his father served as pastors). Duncan said this:

“If Dr. King were here today, he would call on
a new generation of leaders to build upon his work by doing the most
important thing each of you can do: get an education, learn to think,
learn to compete, and learn to win.”

Compete? and win?

Which of Dr. King’s letters, sermons, or speeches do you think Duncan got that quote from?

None, of course. 

Dr. King preached non-violence, which is an antithesis of competition. 

Holley Hewitt Ulbrich put it well

“Nonviolence is more than the absence of violence. It’s not passive. It’s a way of life, a conscious refusal to rise to the bait, an attitude toward the other person, the other party, the other country. It’s hard work. It’s going the second mile, not seeking revenge, not an eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth. Nonviolence begins in attitude. … Nonviolence calls for an attitude of collaboration, of partnership, of acknowledgement of our shared humanity, shared interests, shared desires, rather than competition, right/wrong, win/lose, conquest/defeat.

Not that the author of Race to the Top would understand that. We know him enough not to expect that.

But please, don’t let Duncan out on MLK Day again! 

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About the PURE Thoughts blogger
Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.