In a recent interview, Secretary Duncan discussed how he went about assembling his team, targeting people like Ms. Melendez who came from modest backgrounds, had a passion for the work, and showed an entrepreneurial spirit—and were willing to take what was likely a big pay cut to work in a federal job. No education policy or district superstars with big egos were welcome, he said.
“If they’re scared off because they won’t make more money ... or if they wanted a certain job title, ... that’s not the kind of person we want,” Mr. Duncan said. “We want people for whom this is a real passion. This is mission-driven work. Everyone is taking pay cuts.”
To which Burrell responded
Call me crazy, but you'd think people who were "education policy superstars," who spent their lives in classrooms and later in research, would qualify as "passionate" more than the "missionaries" with an "entrepreneurial spirit." People like, you know, Linda Darling-Hammond, who's devoted her life to knowing through research how to improve education, rather than taking a left turn from entrepreneurialism out of some "money + passion = change you can believe in" zeal.
's rhetoric smacks of a sort of anti-intellectualism and pro-entrepreneurialism, and his staff picks reflect that as well. His DoE staffers are overwhelmingly connected more to Eli Broad and Bill Gates than to universities and classrooms. Duncan
To put this all into perspective, it's time to review how
When he returned to
After a few years of running his friend's non-profit, this mushy, likable bureaucrat got a job in Chicago Public Schools as Deputy Chief of Staff, most likely because of his great connections. A few years later, Mayor Daley appointed the malleable
Meanwhile, having never attended public schools, nor be willing to use them for his own kids, Obama really didn't know all that much about public education. However, for years he had been regularly playing basketball with Duncan, who he met through Michelle's brother (a close friend, and former
And that's how our nation is now stuck with a cheerful, but bumbling, average bureaucrat who Obama has assigned authority for running the whole show. I repeat: one of the benefits of attending elite private schools is making these sorts of useful connections. Did I mention that the Obama's sent their girls to the same
Duncan's presence at the Department of Education is not because of an incredible intelligence, a wide range of experience, or an exceptional level of knowledge; it's because he provides the White House with a level of comfort and familiarity (and honors mutual friend Rogers for his years of Obama political $upport, and who knows who else). By the way,
Mr. Casual "call me Arne"
The fact that Duncan signed on to both the Broader Bolder Approach and the Education Equality Project (manifestos with two VERY different points of view) demonstrates to me that the mutable
By the way, Alexander Russo recently blogged about Arne’s weighing in on a number of issues including raising the driving age in
On the recommendation of Elijah Anderson, I am now reading Blaming the Victim, a classic work by William Ryan. As someone who is paying attention to the methodology of the corporateer-led destruction of public education, all in the name of doing "good," I couldn’t help but be struck by two lines on page 20:
In order to persuade a good and moral man to do evil, then, it is not necessary first to persuade him to become evil. It is only necessary to teach him that he is doing good.
This explains the disconnect I sense between the rhetoric spewed by the corporateers and Harvard MBA-type reformers, (“Education is the civil rights issue of the 21st century!”), and the fact that they never make a peep about the extent of our nation’s poverty and how it affects impoverished families, or our growing class divisions. Fervently believing that what they are saying and doing is good, they bristle and aggressively confront anyone who challenges their position. They declare that those who disagree with them is 1. a racist and 2. a traitor to the cause of wanting to help poor, disadvantaged children. Only their perspective is "good."
Ryan’s book was originally published in 1971. A revised edition was released in 1976 with a new introduction. By then Ryan says he had enlarged his vision of who the “victims” in American society really were.
In fact, everyone who depends for the sustenance of himself and his family on salary and wages, and who does not have a separate source of income through some substantial ownership of wealth, is a potential victim in America. He is vulnerable to the disaster of catastrophic illness in a private-enterprise medical-care system; he is vulnerable to the deliberate manipulation of inflation and unemployment; he is vulnerable to the burden of grossly unfair taxes; he is vulnerable to the endemic pollution of air and food and to the unattended hazards of the factory and the highway that will likely kill him before his time; he is vulnerable to the greed of the great oil companies and food corporations.
The victims in American society are not simply the 10 percent of us who are Black, the 15 percent or so who are officially below the “poverty line." The majority of us who are non-Black and, officially at least, non-poor, are also victims. At least two-thirds, perhaps three-fourths of us are relatively poor compared to the standards of the top 10 or 5 percent, and relatively vulnerable. Others own
, we’re just workers, whether we realize it or not. Some of us may think we’re flying pretty high and are much better off than those below us, but in the end, we’re just ‘house niggers,” allowed better food than the “field niggers” and wearing fancier clothes. But none of us owns even a corner of the cotton field. America owns it all and Massa – the two or three per cent who essentially own Massa —is the real problem. America
It's probably good to be clear about who is really running things; it is Bill Gates, Eli Broad, Michael Bloomberg, the Wal-Mart family, and other millionaires and billionaires along that line. If you are under the impression that we live in a democracy, this will bother you, or perhaps not.