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Re: Schooling Arne Duncan
link with photo of the Dunce - good day comrades
Sent: Wed, Jul 21, 2010 10:41 am
Subject: [arn-l] Schooling Arne Duncan
picture is worth a thousand words. Judy Rabin
ublished on Wednesday, July 21, 2010 by Socialist Worker
chooling Arne Duncan
y Jesse Hagopian
"Hi, Arne. My name is Jesse Hagopian."
s I locked eyes and firmly shook hands, I wondered if my years of teaching
ould be enough to help the freshman Secretary of Education gain the knowledge
nd skills he would need.
rne Duncan had come to the Seattle area on July 9 to address Aviation High
chool, and his visit happened to coincide with the American Federation of
eachers (AFT) convention taking place in Seattle. I joined the picket of
eachers from the AFT who had journeyed to the high school with signs such as
Race to the Top: First place business, last place students."
s we rallied outside the high school, the event planners grew nervous that we
ould disrupt this stage-managed affair. They offered us a meeting with one of
uncan's aides in exchange for our polite behavior during his address. We
greed, and after the event were escorted to a nearby classroom for the meeting.
hen an aide entered the room and told us, "The Secretary will come meet with
ou soon," I assumed he meant one of Duncan's clerical assistants would come
rite down our concerns. But a few minutes later, Secretary Duncan himself
ntered the classroom and took a seat in the center of the room, with us
ducators fanned out around him.
E TEACHERS pooled our collective experience that day to construct, on the fly,
hat turned out to be a comprehensive "lesson plan" for the schooling of Arne
uncan, driven by the essential question: "What is a quality education?" Our
esson was complete with a pre-assessment, a multi-stage lesson plan targeted at
rne's deficiencies, a concluding summative assessment and an intervention plan
or follow-up assistance--not unlike what we would do with any other student at
isk of failure.
ur pre-assessment of Arne's skills was based on years of following Arne's
peeches, writings and public policies--all of which have culminated in his
Race to the Top" initiative (RTTT) and his national "turnaround plan."
TTT is tied to a $4.3 billion fund to make states compete for desperately
eeded education money by using eligibility requirements to push for charter
chools--schools publicly funded by taxpayers, yet run privately, outside the
ontrol of local school boards--and merit pay schemes where teachers are paid
ccording student test scores. Arne's turnaround plan proposes closing some
,000 schools across the county and firing entire teaching staffs at schools
erceived to be failing.
hese national initiatives were first developed by Arne in his role as CEO of
he Chicago Public Schools (where he served from 2001-2008) for his "Renaissance
010" program that consisted of closing down dozens of schools, predominately in
lack neighborhoods, and converting many to charter schools or military
t numerous school board meetings and protests, teachers, students and community
embers warned Duncan that the reckless closing of schools would have dire
onsequences--from the loss of cherished neighborhood schools and union teachers
o an increase in gang violence.
redictably, these education advocates were proven right. Student achievement
tagnated, and deadly violence soared in the schools--with some 34 deaths and
90 shootings in 2009 as a result of students being transported to schools
cross gang boundaries.
study by the University of Chicago's Consortium on Chicago School Research 
eleased in October 2009 examined the academic effects of the closings on
tudents at 18 elementary schools shut down between 2001 and 2006. The study
oncluded that the vast majority of students went from one low-performing school
o another, with no achievement gains--and in fact, even saw temporary decreases
n test scores during the stressful period when the announcement of their school
eing slated for closing was made.
oreover, a massive study by Stanford University, looking at data covering some
0 percent of all charter school students nationally, found that bad charter
chools outnumber good ones by a ratio of roughly 2 to 1--and an astonishing 83
ercent of charter schools were either no better, or worse than, traditional
he performance pay experiment that Duncan imposed on the Chicago Public
chools, known as the "Teacher Advancement Program," had equally dismal results.
erit pay schemes have long been criticized by teachers' unions and education
dvocates for driving teachers to narrow the curriculum to cover only what is
ssessed on tests--and for pitting teachers against each other for a limited
ool of money, thus breaking down teacher collaboration and creating
isincentives for educators to share effective teaching techniques.
report issued last May by Mathematica Policy Research on the merit-pay program
hat Arne initiated in Chicago reveals that paying teachers according to test
cores didn't increase student achievement whatsoever.
hus, every major initiative that Arne Duncan is currently advocating on a
ational level has been shown by non-partisan research institutions to be
neffective at best.
NE TEACHER from Detroit opened our meeting with Arne by summarizing the results
f our "pre-assessment," saying, "What you are doing is stepping up
rivatization, charterization, and segregation and inequality...and you know
ur "lesson" then began by providing context to our essential question: What is
explained that I was a seventh-grade humanities teacher in the Seattle Public
chools until the budget cuts hit, and I was laid off. I then expressed my
ispleasure with his decision to reject a call from Congress to tap some of the
ace to the Top funds in order to save some of the projected 200,000 to 300,000
eaching jobs that will be cut in the upcoming school year.
hat follows is the transcription (taken from my audio recording) of our
xchange. Note that I use the "Socratic seminar" teaching method that stresses
sking open-ended questions to allow for the student to develop High Order
hinking skills, such as analysis, evaluation and creativity:
Mr. Hagopian: I really need an answer to my questions about the recent Stanford
tudy that was funded by the Walton Family. As soon as that study showed that
harters underperformed public schools, I don't know why you didn't change
rne: There is a real mix of charter schools. You have good charter schools, you
ave medium charter schools, you have bad charter schools. And so I just think
e need more good schools in this country...I have said good charter schools are
art of the solution and bad charter schools are part of the problem. So you
an't tar or paint everyone with one brush. The reality is much more complex
r. Hagopian: I've heard that response that you have given, but what still
oesn't make sense to me is...that the problem with charters is that you put
ublic funds under private control. So if public schools on the whole are
utperforming charter schools on the whole, then why don't we use the system
here public funds stay under public control, and then we bring in innovation
nd resources to the public schools?...What is the advantage of charters?
rne: There is nothing inherently good or bad about charters...
As I looked around the room, I noticed my educator colleagues taking mental note
hat Arne clearly hadn't done his homework on the charter school issue--and thus
rovided an incomplete answer that could impact his overall grade for the
esson. I realized then that I needed to step in with some facts to help
caffold this activity for Arne.
Mr. Hagopian: I [have also] taught in Washington D.C....I taught 10 minutes from
he White House--I would drive by the White House, and then I'm in a school with
hole in the ceiling, and it rains into the class.
hen I would get charter school students who were kicked out of their school
ome November. But what happened? When they get kicked out of their school, the
unds don't follow them. The funds stay in the privatized charter school, but my
lass size rises. That is a flawed system that has to change.
Our lesson concluded with an informal summative assessment of Arne's analysis of
ur essential question about "What is a quality education?" Chicago teacher
anielle Ciesielski began the assessment by questioning Arne about his support
or scripted lessons in Chicago that eliminated teacher creativity, ended
roject-based learning and narrowed the curriculum to pre-approved seminars.
Arne: To be clear, we [the Department of Education] want curriculum to be driven
y the local level, pushing that. We are by law prohibited from directing
urriculum. We don't have a curriculum department.
r. Hagopian: I have to interject on that point. Because I think that merit
rne: Let me finish, let me finish...
r. Hagopian: ...Directly influences curriculum. When you have teachers
crambling and pitted against each other for a small amount of money [based on
ow their students perform on a test], what it does is narrow the curriculum to
hat's on the test, even if you don't set curriculum specifically. So I think
ou have to address that.
rne: I will. No one is mandating merit pay.
r. Hagopian: But you support it though?
rne: I do, I do...
r. Hagopian: So you support narrowing the curriculum.
rne: Can I finish? It's a voluntary program. Schools and districts and unions
re working together on some really innovative things.
r. Hagopian: Merit pay isn't part of Race to the Top?
ARNE'S NON-answer to my direct question was troubling, and I hoped my rhetorical
uestion at the end of this exchange would push him to a deeper understanding of
hile Arne's performance during our lesson was disappointing, none of us
ducators were surprised, given his chronic absenteeism from the realm of
edagogy. As a spokesperson for Arne recently admitted to the media , his
nly instructional experience came as a youngster when "his mother ran an
fter-school program for underprivileged kids in a church basement, and he was
oth a student there and a tutor."
t the end of our lesson, we had to acknowledge that we failed in our objective
o help Arne develop the concept of a quality education, and my belief that all
tudents can succeed was truly tested. Determined not to give up even on the
ost challenging of students, however, we recommend Arne meet with the following
pecialists for these targeted interventions:
arents: Don't let Arne close your child's school. If the federal government can
ail out the banks and find the money to bomb children in Afghanistan, then we
now there is enough money to build a world-class education system in your
eighborhood. Demonstrate and speak out for the funding your school deserves
ather than let it be shut down or privatized.
tudents: You are not a number generated by a Scantron machine. You are a
assionate, creative young person who can change the world. Refuse to be
ategorized solely by a test score and demand an education that speaks to who
ou are and what is important to your community.
eachers: Unions brought us the weekend. They are indispensable, don't let Arne
ust your union. Fight to make your union stronger. Replicate the success of the
aucus of Rank-and-File Educators in Chicago--the reform caucus newly elected to
un the Chicago Teachers Union--with its vision of social justice education and
ocial movement unionism in unflinching opposition to those who would seek to
rofit off of the public schools.
ith this action plan of parents, students and teachers finding common cause in
uilding their own vision of a quality education apart from that of Corporate
merica, Arne Duncan may, despite himself, get the education he so desperately
2010 Jesse Hagopian
Jesse Hagopian is a teacher in Seattle who lost his jobs due to budget cuts and
founding member of the progressive union caucus Social Equality Educators 
ithin the Seattle Education Association. He can be reached at:
rticle printed from www.CommonDreams.org
RL to article: http://www.commondreams
rom: Monty Neill <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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ent: Wed, Jul 21, 2010 9:49 am
ubject: [arn-l] Fwd: "Common Core" School Standards Roll On Without Supporting
bout half the states have now adopted the Common Core standards, with others
aking the decision in the next couple weeks as a deadline for winning points in
state's application in round 2 of RTTT funding draws near (Aug 2). Mathis
oncludes standards won't make much of a difference in educational outcomes.
------- Original Message --------
ubject: "Common Core" School Standards Roll On Without Supporting Evidence
ate: Wed, 21 Jul 2010 08:35:17 -0400
rom: Great Lakes Center <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"Common Core" School Standards Roll On Without Supporting Evidence*
uly 21, 2010
Despite Obama administration claims, research finds no link between achievement
cores and academic standards*
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE*
Contact: *Teri Battaglieri -- (517) 203-2940; email@example.com
William J. Mathis -- (802) 383-0058; William.Mathis@colorado.edu
AST LANSING, Mi., July 21, 2010---Very little evidence supports the contention
hat establishing national academic standards for K-12 schools will improve the
uality of American public education, and the standards push may distract
ttention from other vital school reforms, concludes a new policy brief, /The
Common Core" Standards Initiative: An Effective Reform Tool?/
he brief, authored by William J. Mathis, was released today by the Great Lakes
enter for Education Research and Practice.
Without addressing both the in-school and out-of-school influences on test
cores, common core standards are not likely to improve the quality and equity
f America's public schools," Mathis explains.
he Obama administration has embraced "common core" standards and has pressured
tates to adopt them by stating that federal Title I aid will be withheld from
tates that do not adopt standards such as those being developed by the National
overnors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. In
ddition, states that adopt the standards have a major advantage on their Race
o the Top applications.
tandards advocates argue that common standards are necessary for keeping the
ation competitive in a global economy. But Mathis points out that research does
ot support this oft-expressed rationale. No studies support a true causal
elationship between national standards and economic competitiveness, and at the
ost superficial level we know that nations with centralized standards generally
end to perform no better (or worse) on international tests than those without.
urther, research shows that national economic competitiveness is influenced far
ore by economic decisions than by test scores.
athis also raises questions about the rapid development of the common-core
tandards, the lack of field testing, and the overarching need for any
igh-stakes consequences to be "valid," pursuant to established professional
uidelines. Given these concerns, he says that the prospect of positive effects
n educational quality or equality "seems improbable."
ind William Mathis's report, /The "Common Core" Standards Initiative: An
ffective Reform Tool?/ on the web at:
his policy brief was produced by the Education and the Public Interest Center
EPIC) at the University of Colorado and the Education Policy Research Unit
EPRU) at Arizona State University with funding from the Great Lakes Center for
ducation Research and Practice./
About The Great Lakes Center*
he mission of the Great Lakes Center is to improve public education for all
tudents in the Great Lakes region through the support and dissemination of high
uality, academically sound research on education policy and practices.
isit the Great Lakes Center Web Site at: http://www.greatlakescenter.org.
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