Opinion
Education Letter to the Editor

Duncan’s First Year Had Familiar Mistakes

February 01, 2010 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

Your article “Duncan Carving Deep Mark on Policy” (Jan. 20, 2010), on U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s first year in office, noted the existence of opposition to his policies. That opposition is grounded in the reality that the Obama administration’s education “reform” proposals have no basis in research or practical experience. In fact, school “restructuring” and extensive privatization in Chicago, where Mr. Duncan previously served as schools chief, and elsewhere have left many students worse off than they were before. People across the political spectrum recognize this.

In addition to promoting their harmful pedagogy driven by standardized testing, Washington politicians seem determined to become the national school board. Even if “tight on ends, loose on means” were reasonable (a dubious assumption), the reality is that these proposals are tight on both.

Clearly, there is a vitally important role for the federal government in education, to promote and expand equitable opportunity to learn and to engage in research and dissemination. We also need the feds to fund sizable pilots to find out if innovative ideas such as using classroom-based evidence to evaluate school quality can be done efficiently and beneficially. But mandating annual testing (making the United States a world leader in the wrong direction) and coercing states to turn public schools over to private control are not proper federal roles.

President Barack Obama and Secretary Duncan are pushing warmed-over Bush-Paige-Spellings schemes in the No Child Left Behind style. Initiatives such as Race to the Top will intensify the problems caused by that educationally destructive law and reduce democratic control of schools. They are just more examples of the sort of dangerous overreaching that has fueled the current backlash against Washington.

Monty Neill

Interim Executive Director

National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest)

Boston, Mass.

A version of this article appeared in the February 03, 2010 edition of Education Week as Duncan’s First Year Had Familiar Mistakes

Events

Special Education Webinar Reading, Dyslexia, and Equity: Best Practices for Addressing a Threefold Challenge
Learn about proven strategies for instruction and intervention that support students with dyslexia.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Personalized Learning Webinar
No Time to Waste: Individualized Instruction Will Drive Change
Targeted support and intervention can boost student achievement. Join us to explore tutoring’s role in accelerating the turnaround. 
Content provided by Varsity Tutors for Schools
Student Well-Being K-12 Essentials Forum Social-Emotional Learning: Making It Meaningful
Join us for this event with educators and experts on the damage the pandemic did to academic and social and emotional well-being.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: November 23, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: November 2, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: October 19, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: October 12, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read