Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Duncan Is It

Arne Duncan has tried to cultivate a middle position but in fact is is Klein lite, as has been pointed out by others. I'm out of the country so can't comment extensively but here are a few so far.- Norm

Hello All,

And so, just as it took a Republican to initiate trade with China, it is taking a Democrat to destroy (what's left of) the teacher's unions and public education.In a perverse way, Klein would have been the better choice, since he's such a polarizing figure, and his appointment might have led to more static. Duncan seems to be smoother, making him more dangerous.Randi, of course, played her part in this, blowing a kiss to Duncan just the other day. Was that the public statement and capitulation - the first of many more to come - Obama was waiting for?

Michael Fiorillo

Teachers in Chicago are sorry to see the CEO of the schools here being promoted.
In the past couple of years Chicago has been turning public schools over to private operators (mainly in the form of charters and contracts) at a rate of about 20/year. The city has also resuscitated some of the worst ideas of the 90's like firing all the teachers in low-performing schools (called 'turn-arounds') while at the same time eliminating many Local School Councils and making school decisions without public input. Charter schools and test-score driven 'choice' have been the watchwords of Duncan's rule in Chicago. Expect more of the same in Washington DC.

But in case anyone is wondering what kind of a person we appear to be getting as Secretary of Education. Duncan is a tool. To me, the thing that made clear Duncan's role came after three months of organizing against the Chicago Board of Education's proposal to install a Naval Academy at our community high school, Senn HS.

After an inspiring campaign that had involved literally hundreds of people in the biggest campaign the area had seen in decades, we forced Duncan to come up to our neighborhood to listen to our case for keeping the military out of our school. Over three hundred of us--parents, teachers, and community supporters held a big meeting in a local church and, at the end of the meeting, we asked Duncan to postpone the decision to put the military school at Senn. Duncan's answer was a classic--he said, 'I come from a Quaker family and I've always been against war. But I'm going to put the Naval Academy in there because it will give people in the community more choices.'

When push came to shove Duncan was always a loyal henchman of the Daley political machine--albeit with a style that made it seem like he was listening and a knack for a sympathetic phrase--the kind of person who will look a t you with a straight face and tell you that, as a person with a Quaker background, he supports a military school, and in a community that is fighting as hard as it can against some Daley-Department of Defense backroom deal, that he is ignoring us because it will give the community more choices.

Jesse Sharkey
Chicago Public Schools Teacher

Editorial: Duncan's agenda and Paul Bremer's

Substance Editorial Staff

Picture Paul Bremer, the erstwhile “viceroy” of Baghdad, only without the boots. You now have Arne Duncan and his troupe of zealots privatizing everything in sight at the Chicago Board of Education and in the “Office of New Schools.” Of course, just as Bremer would have been nothing without George W. Bush and the crazies in the Washington Think Tanks that write the privatization scripts for the world, so Duncan would just be another washed up former professional ball player if Mayor Daley and his corporate buddies weren’t backing his massive privatization plans.

For the past six years, we’ve watched while Chicago Schools CEO Arne Duncan lied repeatedly to the public about how and why he was closing dozens of public schools. Duncan was not trying to improve public schools in Chicago for all children, but was in command of a ruthless privatization plan that is designed to undermine traditional notions of public education for urban children and replace them with a crackpot version of “market choice” that exists only for the wealthy and the powerful.

The key to Duncan’s ability to get away with the Big Lie, however, is not Duncan’s own eloquence, but the face that he has the backing of Chicago’s ruling class. From the CEOs of the city’s largest corporations (organized into the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club) to the editorial boards of the two power daily newspapers, Duncan’s lies are amplified every day, and except for the pages of this newspaper and a few other places, unchallenged in the public arena where democratic debate is supposed to take place.

After we reviewed the school closings in Chicago since 2001, when Mayor Daley appointed Duncan the second “Chief Executive Officer” in CPS history, the shocking details began to become clear. Not only were poor black children being forced out of their homes (public housing reform, it was called), but they were also being deprived over and over of access to public schools.

Comparing Duncan’s other work with massive privatizers like Paul Bremer (who headed up the Provisional Coalition Authority in Baghdad from 2003 to 2004), any clear-eyed reader can see the same pattern. These guys are not in the business of improving public school, but of stripping the assets from public services and turning unionized public servants into non-union public slaves.

For five years, we have watched thousands of people appear before the corporate stooges who constitute the Chicago Board of Education, trying to talk about what would be best for public schools. Every argument has been eloquent.

But the arguments don’t really matter, because Arne Duncan and the seven members of the Chicago Board of Education are not in the education business, they are in the privatization and charter school business. Once the public understand that, at least people can stop wasting their time talking about what’s best for the education of Chicago’s poorest children. Duncan couldn’t care less about that as long as his crimes — and they are crimes that flow from these lies — don’t make the TV news or interfere with the agenda of his mentor Richard M. Daley.


  1. Here we go again.....no true educators need apply.

  2. It seems that Obama is another puppet of the BIG CORPORATIONS. He will appoint anobody to favor the rich as he is doing with Duncan.

  3. Duncan's appointment is very bad news.

  4. Obama chose the best private and most expensive school for his daughters. Does he care about the poor children? I do not think so. Appointing Duncan as a Secretary of Educ. will be his biggest downfall in the American History.


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