Sunday, April 3, 2011

Duncan does it again

Arne Duncan may well be tone deaf, but his handlers must know how he sounds. That they have made no effort to sweeten his swill suggests that the monied people already know how this will go down.

Our local paper's editorial board interviewed him, though "interviewed" may be too strong a word. Mr. Duncan's heart may be in the right place (though I'm not convinced), he may be charming, and Lord knows he's got power--but the Star-Ledger's board needs to remember that they are journalists, not flacks.

I worked in Newark for years--in shelters, in clinics, in hospitals, and in the schools. I now work in the town next door, but would welcome an opportunity to again help change the lives of devastated children. Mr. Duncan's approach, however, makes substantial change unlikely.

Here are pieces of the interview:

"I ran Chicago schools and had about half the money Newark has, literally."
 Where's the follow-up question pointing out that the Chicago miracle was a mirage?

"What’s been lacking is the courage to demand and expect excellence."
This is an insult, "literally," to every person who has dedicated their lives to helping others in dire conditions:
the teachers, the Sisters of Charity, the Children's Health Fund, the CAC of NJ ,the Newark Community Health Centers, Newark Emergency Services for Families, the Community Food Bank, CASA, La Casa de Don Pedro, Link Community School, the principals, Covenant House, Renaissance House, Greater Newark Conservancy, Ironbound Community Corporation, Gateway Northwest, AD House, and so many others, some recognized, most not.

To call us cowards, to insinuate that we ever expected less than excellence, defines you.

If you want to help make things happen, you're sincere, and in it for the long haul, and if you can be bothered to learn a bit of the history of Newark and its citizens, you will be welcomed. None of those are obvious.

"The data on charters is very clear."
Yes, it is. Is there anyone on the Star-Ledger staff looking at the data?

"Linking student performance and teacher evaluation is hugely important."
"Hugely" is an odd word there--push him on it. Does poverty matter? Lead burden? Untreated asthma? No decent teacher feels threatened by folks judging our classes--we do feel threatened by the use of improper data by disingenuous (or just plain slow) administrators and politicians. Duncan lives in a world of straw men--I expect journalists to challenge his myths. "How about a little fire, Scarecrow?"

"But this isn’t about outsiders controlling anything."
 This is either very dumb or just plain disingenuous. Really, Arne?

Bob Braun, contrary to his editorial board, has been doing a bang-up job following the money in the Newark school reform effort.
The quotes in bold are Duncan's.

No comments: