At first blush, the Arne guy is rather interesting.
Barack Obama’s pick for Secretary of Education seems, by all counts, to be willing to make hard choices and push hard policies for the strengthening of the education system.
Pushing past all the arguments (which I tend to agree with) that education is not mandated by the Constitution as a responsibility of the Federal Government, we have what we have, and we must work with it at the same time we work to change it.
The newspapers seemed to be a little less rosy about Arne than for some of the other Obama appointees. And now they’re complaining.
What first perked my ears was when I read in the Chicago Sun-Times yesterday:
(Obama) praised Duncan’s shutdown of failing schools, charter school expansions, push for better teachers and pay-for-performance experiment that rewards teachers and principals for student test gains.
And this further down:
Chicago Teachers Union President Marilyn Stewart conceded Tuesday that she has not had a “love fest” with Duncan, who drew union ire by closing failing schools, leaving teachers scrambling to find new jobs. But Stewart said she also has been able to work with him.
Anyone whose credits include shutting down schools and drawing the ire of a Union President is probably a real reformer.
The Globe and Mail this morning hit the nail on the head:
The former head of the Chicago Teachers Union has condemned Barack Obama’s choice of Arne Duncan as education secretary – proof positive that the president-elect chose wisely.
And then this morning the gloves came off.
The Sun-Times this morning says teachers at the Chicago Public Schools board meeting were less than enthused about Arne:
With the school closing hit list due next month, teachers charged that CPS charter schools — which have replaced some closed schools — are “destroying” neighborhood schools by luring away high-scoring kids. Meanwhile, they said, neighborhood schools are being forced to absorb low-scoring kids.
This is a false argument. It’s like the kid blaming his mom when he drops his cake on the floor.
There are not rules precluding, preventing, any school from using the resources available to it to do a better job than it is doing.
It is a poor manager, superintendent, or principle who thinks because they can’t get more money they can’t improve.
In the real world, one has to improve in order to get more money. “In order” is a phrase of relative position, the process or action before the “in order” generally has to occur earlier in time than the result afterwards.
In fact, principles who complain when Arne encourage and facilitated the firing of poor performers are the worst sort of ingrates around. Our children are at stake, not your favorite pet teacher.
If the schools are so bad that people prefer to take their children out and find alternative and superior methods of instruction, shouldn’t that encourage those failing schools to reexamine their methods and seek to do better? Apparently not to some.
The Union mindset of entitlement has become ingrained so deeply in the public school system in America that someone with the guts to buck the protectionism and croneyism so common in the union is a breath of fresh air indeed.
Kudos to Obama for this selection.