Writing in The New American, Michael Tennant caught this odd little admission that Secretary of Education Arne Duncan made during a recent webcast:
During the course of the webcast, in which Duncan answered questions submitted via Twitter, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) was raised. NCLB is the 2001 version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) signed into law by President George W. Bush that imposes national standards on schools and measures schools’ success in meeting those standards primarily via standardized testing. Its emphasis on testing and its lack of flexibility have caused consternation in state capitals and school districts across the country, especially since failure to meet the standards could mean a loss of federal money.
“Some people are saying the real lesson of No Child Left Behind is that Washington cannot run public education,” said the moderator of the webcast, who then motioned for Duncan to respond to that statement.
“Washington could never run public education,” Duncan emphatically agreed, thereby contradicting at least 46 years of federal policy, beginning with President Lyndon B. Johnson’s signing of ESEA in 1965 and continuing through the establishment of the Department of Education in 1979 and thence on to NCLB and sundry other laws and regulations.
A libertarian news site, TNA made the case in their headline that Duncan was essentially advocating for the closure of his own department. Even if you put political bias aside, its easy to make the case the he indeed was.
Duncan’s soothing words coupled with power-seizing actions are a blatant attempt to have things both ways. He wants to control state ed policy from Washington with the No Child Left Behind guidelines he favors via waivers and Race to the Top coercion. And by saying,“Washington could never run public education,” Duncan wants everyone believe he’s not doing so.
Something so intertwined with the future of our nation’s children cannot continue to be handled by the nation’s top educator in such a misleading way. It’s clear that the political manipulations by Duncan and his test-based, corporate funded allies are not being done in a transparent or above-board manner. The more Arne Duncan talks out of both sides of his mouth, the more obvious it becomes.