Saturday, December 20, 2008

Klonsky and Meier on Arne Duncan

From Susan Ohanian

Obama’s Choice for Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, Seen as Compromise Between Divided Strands

by Mike Klonsky and Deborah Meier

Democracy Now

Susan says:
There is a lot of game-playing and positioning in this discussion. Is Mike Klonsky keeping his options open, or what? Duncan as a "centrist" candidate when he says?

I think Arne Duncan has the potential to be a good Secretary of Education, and I
think he has some real positives going for him.

Read Henry Giroux and Kenneth Saltman on Duncan's corporate brand of schooling and Obama's betrayal of public schools.

After reading Susan's comments I took a good look at what Deb Meier said. Read it all but here are just a few words and though I think she is being careful, she makes some important points:

So, first of all, I think we’re—it’s not two sides. It’s sort of a—it’s different views about the purpose of education, and there are different views about how human beings learn well. And I think there’s a very predominant view right now that gets—has been called by the name of reform and that has nothing to do with red and blue. It’s a kind of market view of education, though. And I
think there are a lot of people on the red side who are more close to my views and a lot of people of the blue side who are more close to Arne Duncan’s views. And that part does worry me, maybe even more than it does Klonsky, my friend Mike Klonsky, because it’s—I think we need a different discussion about what the point of education is.

[O]nce you’ve posed the issue as being union lackeys or reformers—and the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, a variety of magazines, as you mentioned earlier, have said there are two sides: unions lackeys, people who want to—who are worrying—you know, who are dependent upon the union, and on the other side are real reformers. I think it made it hard for the union to speak for its own membership on this question. And the history of reform has almost nothing to do—I shouldn’t say that. There has always been a struggle between these two wings in reform. But they have posed me as an anti-reformer, as though there are—since I’m not for market-style reforms, this testing mania, this narrow focus on prepping kids for a small selection of skills, that makes me a dupe of the union and an anti-reformer and someone who doesn’t care for the future of the economy or democracy. I think it’s been posed that way for so many years now.


  1. If you don't have time to read the whole Goodman interview in the link, there's a couple of things Deborah Meier said that should be noted:

    "But I think we’ve bought into, and Arne Duncan has bought into, the worst parts of the business mentality or the business model. I think there are things we can learn from the business world, but accountability is not one of them."

    "And I think we’ve bought into some of the shoddiest accountability mindset, in which everybody is forced to lie."

    "You know, high-stakes numbers means you play with the numbers. There’s something, I think, in sociology called Campbell’s Law: the higher the stakes, the more corrupt the data."

    Every teacher these days in inner-city public schools has the awful job of weighing his salary against his own integrity. This is a relatively new development in the profession, and a tremendous obstacle to getting the proper job done.

  2. Dear Chaz:

    At this website, you and some others posted many comments regarding 3020a proceedings. They are valuable resources for any teachers who are facing disciplinary actions from their principals and DOE lawyers.

    Based upon my personal experience and some of my friends in the rubber room, I noticed a new trend of malicious collaboration between DOE and UFT to summarily punish senior teachers. In last few months, DOE with the complicit of NYSUT attorneys exploit the loophole, the expedited 3020a proceeding, in our 2005 contract , and use it not only on the cases limited to absences/lateness but on many other charges such as misconduct and incompetence. By doing so, DOE and UFT further weaken the 3020a protections, which has already been greatly weakened by our recent 05 contract.

    The expedited 3020a proceeding was intended and clearly stated for the cases of absences and lateness, but by employing it on many other charges, DOE can summarily discipline (fine or suspension) any teacher they dislike at a low cost within a matter of few months.

    To make the matter even worse , UFT not only helps DOE to get away with the abuse of the proceedings, its lawyers actually do not bother to inform, or even conceal from their clients of their right to reject the expedited proceeding and of their right to request a full regular hearing. Many teachers who are unknown to their right, have been summarily fined, suspended and turned into an ATR.

    An enemy within is ten times more dangerous than an enemy from outside. No one can do more potential harm to a teacher than his or her NYSUT attorney.

    I want every teacher to know that he or she does not have to take expedited 3020a proceeding forced upon them by DOE and sugarcoated by UFT lawyers. Please ask for a full regular hearing and force your principal to prove the case against you.

  3. I know for a fact that two teachers earlier this year were advised by NYSUT lawyers to resign before they were even charged. One of them did.

    Like PIP, NYSUT lawyers work on teachers to "counsel them out". The fix is in throughout the UFT "support" process.

  4. We know what the administrators and politicians are, and the UFT veneer is wearing thin as well. Witness the 12/14 article in the NY Times "Week in Review" where Randi endorses Bloomberg's antics. In the end, though, the real problem comes from the teachers. We allow each other to be picked off one by one and then wonder in the end when it's our turn and there "is no one left" to help.


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