The Spectacle Blog

Daily Must-Reads: Arne Duncan Is a Failure Edition

By on 4.22.09 | 10:00AM

Instead of the usual variety of topics, today I would like to direct your attention to one story: Education Secretary Arne Duncan's (and Barack Obama's) unconscionable betrayal of poor, voiceless, and defenseless schoolchildren in Washington, DC.

Today Duncan published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal entitled "School Reform Means Doing What's Best for the Kids." Among other claims, Duncan states that

We need a culture of accountability in America's education system if we want to be the best in the world. No more false choices about money versus reform, or traditional public schools versus charters. No more blaming parents or teachers. We need solid, unimpeachable information that identifies what's working and what's not working in our schools. Our children deserve no less.

Here's the problem. Obama and Duncan deserve credit for embracing charter schools. But Duncan himself asserts a false choice by painting the issue as a discussion over increased public school funding or charter schools. He conveniently leaves out the third option of vouchers. We now know, despite what seems to be Duncan's best efforts to sweep the information under the rug, that we have "solid, unimpeachable information" that identifies [giant pdf] that the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program worked, at a fraction of the cost of public school. We also know that the DC public schools are not working, despite having "more money than God," by Duncan's own admission.

And yet the funding for the DC voucher program was cut out of the omnibus spending bill as Duncan and Obama stood silently by. 

In other words, Duncan and the Obama administration are throwing impoverished DC youth under the bus to satisfy their political needs. Poor inner-city youth have little clout relative to the Democratic Party, and so 1,700 of them must leave the schools where they were given a chance and return to failed DC public schools and a bleaker future.

Another quote from Duncan's op-ed:

For the first time in decades we have the funding, the committed leadership at the White House and on Capitol Hill, and proven success strategies across the country.

Well we certainly have the funding, thanks to the stimulus. And we have the proven success strategies, thanks to the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program. The only thing the leadership is committed to, however, is the Democratic Party.

UPDATE: Adam Schaeffer doesn't want Duncan to get away with it either.

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