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Thompson: A White Suburban Dad Named Arne Duncan Needs Out

New York  Board of Regents Chancellor Meryl Tisch says that "it’s been well over a year since I’ve had someone talk to me about instruction and curriculum. Everyone has talked to me about evaluations."

Well duh!

We are in the middle of a wonderful democratic moment as the Opt Out movement is poised to kill the high stakes testing vampire. And, even Tisch ridicules the idea that the test, sort, and punish school of reform can be saved by punishing parents who are standing up for their children. She says, “I would say to everyone who wants to punish the school districts ... Really, are you kidding me?”

But, Arne Duncan has even surpassed his previous political blunder of dismissing the concerns of "white suburban moms" whose kids might not be as brilliant as they think. He again demonstrates political sensitivity comparable to that of Southpark's Eric Cartman. As Chalkbeat's Patrick Wall reports, in As Opt Out Numbers Grow, Arne Duncan Says Feds May Have to Step In, Duncan now threatens to punish low-income schools in states which fail to hit participation rate targets.

The Education Czar demands, "Respect My Authorit-iii!"

Even better, Duncan reveals his lack of education judgment by asserting that his children aren't being injured by punitive testing mandates. After all, testing hasn't sucked all of the oxygen out of elite schools. Whether Duncan knows it or not, its under-the-gun, high-challenge schools that face the most pressure to impose drill and kill. He remains clueless about the inevitable ways that the toxicity dumped on teachers and administrators flows down onto the kids.

Duncan, the white suburban father, knows best. He, not moms and students, should decide how much of the joy of learning should be sacrificed in the name of bubble-in accountability.

Duncan's gaff is the best news since the announcement that 185,000 New York students have already opted out. He has just thrown more gasoline on the irreversible fire that is spreading through states that first adopted his extreme version of test-driven  accountability.

Once again, Duncan demonstrates his love for collective punishment in order to advance his corporate reform agenda. A huge part of the problem he created is due to his coercion of the states into adopting value-added teacher evaluations. These high stakes metrics, of course, are collective punishment of teachers who choose to teach in schools where it is harder to meet growth targets. And, because this suburban dad has a beef with suburban moms, he threatens schools serving poor children of color!

Given his "to do" list, I doubt President Obama pays much attention to the destructive effects of his test-driven accountability regime but, surely, he will be made aware of this latest goof. Duncan has just created even more of an opportunity for the Right and the Left to target federal overreach. Perhaps Obama will finally realize that it is time for his basketball buddy to go. 

As the Opt Out movement grows even more, educators and families will make sure that Duncan eats his words. Once his top-down  micromanaging of schools across this diverse nation is repudiated, then we can get back to discussing instruction and curriculum. -JT(@drjohnthompson)   


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