Secretary Arne Duncan, Oxygen Sucker

If you need an example of hubris, hypocrisy, and arrogance, here it is. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, the tester-in-chief who has vehemently opposed sensible approaches to evaluation and assessment in favor of corporate-driven high-stakes tests for almost two decades, is now suspending for one year the test-based teacher evaluations he has long championed:

“I believe testing issues today are sucking the oxygen out of the room in a lot of schools – oxygen that is needed for a healthy transition to higher standards, improved systems for data, better aligned assessments, teacher professional development, evaluation and support, and more.”

The brilliant educator Mike Klonsky calls Duncan “the biggest oxygen sucker of them all,” and adds a “Thank you, Lord Duncan. I’m sure a year from now, the oxygen will be back.”

“What Duncan refuses to recognize is that his Race To The Top/Common Core testing regimen is also sucking wind when it comes to equity in the schools. Even with a one-year reprieve on federal test-based teacher ratings (will school districts follow suit?), dramatic cuts in funding will still leave poor, inner-city schools and districts at a disadvantage. Take Philadelphia, for example.With an $81 million budget gap, Philly schools are opening minus hundreds of classroom teachers, social workers, and librarians. Students are sitting in uncleaned classrooms. Sports and after-school programs are being decimated. Unlimited expansion of the city’s privately-run charter schools is another oxygen sucker.

“A year’s reprieve on testing won’t change any of that. A year from now, the gap will be a year wider, no matter how you measure it. Civil rights is still the civil rights issue of our generation.”


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