Posts Tagged ‘Arne Duncan’

What parents want in a renewed NCLB

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Signing upToday’s Tribune editorial proposed that a renewed No Child Left Behind law be based on Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s “waiver” program, by which they mean more testing and “accountability.”

I wrote this response (though the Tribune has not printed one of my letters in quite a while…):

The Tribune’s editorial proposal that a renewed No Child Left Behind law be based on Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s “waiver” program is not supported by research, best practices, or most U.S. parents.

For example, test-score based teacher evaluation is strongly discouraged by experts at the National Academy of Sciences and elsewhere as unreliable and potentially damaging.

The Tribune’s overall idea of “accountability” is rejected by most Americans. For example, 54 percent polled by Gallup in 2010 agreed that the best thing to do about low-performing schools is to keep the school open with the same staff and give it more support. Only 17 percent wanted to close the school and reopen it with a new principal, and just 13 percent wanted to replace it with a charter school.

These findings are echoed in a July 2013 poll of public school parents by the American Federation of Teachers, which found that 77 percent support strong public schools over expanded vouchers and charters. 57 percent agreed that there is too much emphasis on testing today.

No one has more at stake in better schools than parents, but parents want improvements to be based on responsible, effective policies, not the misguided and destructive initiatives of Secretary Duncan’s waiver program.

Most parents support fair, adequate school funding, smaller class sizes, and experienced teachers who are respected as professionals. We want our children to be treated as individuals, not data points. And we refuse to be used as pawns in corporate reformers’ “parental choice” game. Parents across the U.S. want a real, substantial role in all decisions that affect our children’s schools, such as the one provided by Chicago’s local school council system.

Arne Duncan – one white male Obama Cabinet member we can do without

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

Time to say good-bye, Arne

Talk is going around that diversity is taking a big hit in the President’s cabinet. Hillary Clinton is being replaced by  John Perry, not Susan Rice. Three other recent replacement picks were all white men.

Meanwhile, Education Secretary Arne Duncan is apparently staying.

Come on Arne, it’s time to take one for the good of the nation.

Time to step aside for a real educator like Linda Darling-Hammond or someone with in-depth department experience like Diane Ravitch.

Either of them, or countless others, would bring some diversity and – big bonus – wouldn’t continue your stupid, damaging, ill-conceived pro-corporate reform education agenda.

Just a thought.

Educational Courage on CSM Top 15 list

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

The Christian Science Monitor has just named “Educational Courage” one of the Top 15 “Must-Read” Books about K-12 Education in the US:

As I’ve told you before, I wrote one of these personal essays. The publishers, Beacon Press, created an “Educational Courage” web site for further information and action ideas related to the book. Some of PURE’s tip sheets and fact sheets, which I mention in my essay, are linked in the “Practical Materials” section of the site.

You’ll have to buy the book to find out what I wrote about Arne Duncan! It’s available from Beacon, on Amazon, and other sites.

Corp reform media blaming teachers, touting charters

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

The corporate reform-backed media is  doing its “Education Nation” best to prop up Rahm Emanuel’s union busting efforts, with a lot of help from Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.

Parents Across America’s Leonie Haimson was put up against three white male corp reformers on CNBC yesterday. I know, not fair that the men were  so overmatched, but one of them still managed to suggest that the parents supporting the CTU are victims of Stockholm Syndrome (I’m now cursingoin Swedish…ooh – guess they’re right!).

ABC News (we watch broadcast news at my mom’s house) did a story claiming that Chicago charter schools (which are, you know, open now) are better than comparison schools.

Here’s what Sun-Times columnist Carol Marin quoted today from someone who actually knows the truth about Chicago’s charter schools:

“I ran the numbers when I was at CPS,” said Terry Mazany, former interim CPS superintendent and CEO of the Chicago Community Trust. “Charters, based on . . . being freed from restrictions of bureaucracy, should be knocking the socks off neighborhood schools. But they’re not. It’s a dead heat.”

Corp reformers can’t have it both ways.

If CPS schools are so awful, why  isn’t that the fault of mayoral control and Arne Duncan?


Guess what Arne’s lying about now

Friday, August 17th, 2012

We’ve caught him lying about turnaround schools and charter schools, and his overall track record.

But apparently this bad habit has former Chicago Public Schools CEO and current Education Secretary Arne Duncan mythologizing himself, too. A friend alerted me to this recent New Jersey Star-Ledger interview where Duncan makes this claim:


When I was in high school in the South Side of Chicago, my friends could drop out and get a decent job in the stockyards or steel mills, and own their own home and support a family.

For those who may not be aware, Arne attended the  very expensive, very exclusive University of Chicago Laboratory School, where President Obama’s daughters went to school and Mayor Rahm Emanuel currenlty sends his children.

The Lab School is in Hyde Park which, while it is indeed located on the south side of Chicago, is generally not considered “the South Side of Chicago.” You know, where Big Bad Leroy Brown lived.

Arne was 7 years old when the stockyards closed.

Read the rest of the article, if you can stomach it  – he’s still lying about school reform, too.


D.C. sign of the times: Major component failure

Friday, April 20th, 2012

I’m in D.C. with some of my amazing Parents Across America friends, preparing to have the Department of Education for lunch.

Actually, they’re hosting us, but we’ll see.

Spent yesterday dropping off PAA position packets with each member of the Senate Education Committee. Had a great meeting with Sen. Patty Murray’s education aide, a not-so-great debate with Mark Kirk’s person. Got off the elevator just as Ed Committee Chair Tom Harkin got on… doors closed before we could ask for a picture!

Anyway, this sign was in the Senate Hart building (no doubt posted by some secret Truth in Government Commission) but perhaps even better describes things over at Arne Duncan’s USDE.

PSAT for 4-3-12: It’s LISTEN UP time!

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Aren’t you tired of speaking out and not being heard?

Aren’t you fed up with school boards holding hearings but not listening?

Don’t you feel like screaming every time Arne Duncan, Rahm Emanuel or JC Brizard spout the same cliches and unsubstantiated pronouncements about how to improve schools?

Don’t you think it’s time that we called these appointed officials out on the b******t???

I’m going to tell you how in a minute.

What got me started on this today? Well, it doesn’t ever take much, as you know, but this time it started with my previous blog post about the apparent deafness of the Illinois State Board of Education to thoughtful, legitimate concerns raised by the public about its proposed new testing and school labeling system.

But then I’ve also been thinking about the earnest efforts of Chicago parents, including the Raise Your Hand and 19th Ward Parents groups, fighting CPS’s proposed unfunded, one-size-fits-all Longer Day, They have been politely but firmly asking to be heard and to have their reasonable questions answered about what exactly will be happening during this longer day, only to be met with arrogance and nonsense.

A while back I brought to your attention the great analysis of my current research heroes — those delightful debunkers at the the National Education Policy Center — of the Public Agenda report explaining to self-described “education reformers” how they can give us stupid, stupid parents the run-around on school turnarounds despite our natural opposition. Here’s how NEPC describes the plan:

(P)arents can, the report explains, be brought around to support what the authors characterize as “bold action to transform deeply inadequate schools, including closing or fundamentally reshaping the leadership, programs, and staffing at these schools.”

To accomplish that, the report provides eight “communication strategies” directed at parents and communities. The strategies, and the report itself, are based in large part on an unspecified number of focus groups conducted with parents in four cities. For instance, turnaround advocates are told to “Provide information—not too little and not too much” and to “Remember to tell stories [testimonials].”

….After hearing directly from parents who described their concerns about school turnaround proposals, these concerns were set aside – as a practical matter, they were ignored.  Instead, the focus groups were used “to test messaging that would manipulate those groups’ participants (and, by extension, the wider community) into favoring federal turnaround approaches,” according to Mathis. The result is a document that’s “paternalistic and arrogant” in its “criticism of parents for not knowing what’s good for them.”

What’s even creepier than the plan itself is the way the rich backers of corporate reform and school privatization have collaborated in dumping millions of dollars into their propaganda war.

OK. So what do we do? How do we fight the propaganda and force them to listen?

The answer, I believe, is to keep doing what we’re doing but do it more and more in front of legislators, aldermen, etc. They have power, too, and because they are ACTUALLY ELECTED,  they are more responsive than appointed school boards, appointed secretaries of education, etc.

And it’s already working. The elected officials are beginning to make our arguments for us, and they are the ones who have been the targets of Stand for Children’s money and corporate reform lobbying. I gave you three local examples just recently:

  • The debate in the Senate Education Committee over Senator Delgado’s proposed bill to stop Noble charter school from imposing disciplinary fines: “Delgado pointed out that no research has generated findings that such ‘financial punishment’ has beneficial effects.”
  • The drubbing JC Brizard took at the Illinois House Education Committee meeting last Thursday when Rep Monique Davis asked, “Is [CEO] Brizard just a figurehead? Someone is making big dollars … to manage the turnarounds.”
  • The opinion piece by Congressman Danny Davis opposing Noble’s discipline policy.

Someone’s listening now!

And it’s not just here in Chicago or Springfield. Listen to these arguments made by Mississippi legislators opposed to charter expansion in that state – don’t they sound familiar? (The answer is yes! We have been making them for several years now!):

  • Why not begin with a pilot program and see what works and what does not?
  • National studies show that charter schools do not outperform charter schools on a sustained basis.
  • If we want to improve education, how can we do that by reducing the number of certified teachers?
  • What remedy does a parent have to make sure a charter school does what it is supposed to do? To whom can they turn? All you can do is leave the school, which is not an effective way to hold the charter school accountable.
  • X asked about charters cherry-picking the best students and casting out those that under-perform academically or misbehave.

You’d think they were reading my blog….

So, for Public Schools Action Tuesday, it’s LISTEN UP time! Reach out to an ELECTED official and tell them some truth about our schools. Some of them are listening, and some of them can make CPS listen.

Chicago Aldermen contacts here. You might ask them to dig into the longer school day – here are some ideas from Raise Your Hand.

Illinois Senators here and Illinois Representatives here. You might ask them to read Congressman Davis’s opinion piece on Noble charter school here and support Sen. Delgado’s bill SB 637 to end charters fining low-income students.


Support PURE!
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.