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Is Arne Duncan clinically a paranoid schizophrenic?

Publication Date: 2010-02-09

This analysis appeared in The Daily Censored, Feb. 8, 2010. As we've come to expect from Danny Weil, it offers insight to what's happening to the schools. . . and reason to mobilize on March 4. And documents why Duncan must go.

Education Secretary, Arne Duncan called Hurricane Katrina:

the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans because it forced the community to take steps to improve low-performing public schools, according to excerpts from the transcript of a television interview made public Friday afternoon ( Washington Post, Arne Duncan: Hurricane Katrina benefited New Orleans̢۪ education system, January 29, 2010 by The Post̢۪s education reporter Nick Anderson).

But the purveyor of disaster capitalism and applauder of the 'shock doctrine' policy didn't stop there -- disaster is an 'opportunity' for this shallow, elite policy maker as it is for so many of his friends:

It's a fascinating one. I spent a lot of time in New Orleans, and this is a tough thing to say, but let me be really honest. I think the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans was Hurricane Katrina. That education system was a disaster, and it took Hurricane Katrina to wake up the community to say that 'we have to do better.' And the progress that they've made in four years since the hurricane is unbelievable. They have a chance to create a phenomenal school district. Long way to go, but that -- that city was not serious about its education. Those children were being desperately underserved prior, and the amount of progress and the amount of reform we̢۪ve seen in a short amount of time has been absolutely amazing (ibid).

Did Arne Duncan even know of the dismal economic situation plaguing resident before the Hurricane hit? Does it matter? Any one who saw the statistics would see that before the hurricane the United States had a medium income of $41,994. Louisiana's medium income before Hurricane Katrina was $32, 566. But in the lower ninth ward which was 99% black (where devastation was pronounced), the medium income was a sickening $19,918. Does Arne think that any of this, coupled with the statistics you can see at The Economy in Numbers: New Orleans by the Numbers Peter Wagner and Susan Edwards, has anything to do with the absolute degradation of every day life in New Orleans?

Arne is right about the fact that Hurricane Katrina provided the impetus that Milton Friedman counseled would be needed to dramatically re-engineer society towards the ruthless goals of capitalism. With the city devastated and much of its population forced from the state (half a million residents were forced out due to the Hurricane), policy wonks, economists, developers, businessmen, corporations and politicians seized the hurricane as an opportunity for radical privatization, not much unlike that which Friedman had helped engineer in Chile, decades prior.

In Chile, after Friedman's counsel and ideas came to hold sway under Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship, Chile saw its entire public school system replaced through privatization in the form of 'vouchers', long ago advocated by Friedman. Now, with New Orleans devastated the opportunity to privatize or at least reconfigure education presented itself as a gift horse opportunity and it is about time that Arne Duncan said what he said, for it was the dirty little secret the corporate media sought so willingly to hide from the American public. Now we know that Duncan adheres to the Chicago School of Economics and the monetary policies and disaster politics of Milton Friedman that have reshaped the American economy and social life into a rat's maze.

Maybe now Arne will be eager to capitalize on San Francisco schools that will not now face budget cuts of up to $113,000,000 with lay-offs of more than four hundred teachers. It is just this devastation capitalism that Naomi Klein speaks of and that has been going on for centuries; the putsch towards the high movement and consolidation towards elite management control of education by Dunces like Duncan who have never even worked in a classroom, let alone taught for a living. Duncan is a little coddled, elite and privileged manager for the deep pockets who now run American education as an enterprise -- the philanthropist who managed to steal all of American wealth and now offer a 'second hand store society' as charity for their efforts. Duncan is a disrespectful and virulent purveyor of gloom and doom and is working assiduously to move his ill informed and devastating privatized agenda for education forward in the interest of his paymasters.

How many children did not make it back?

How many of the half million residents made it back to New Orleans?

According to Edmundite Father Michael Jacques, the head of the New Orleans archdiocesan Council of Deans and pastor of St. Peter Claver Church

From what I've heard at the deanery meetings, about 30 to 40 percent of people have returned and about 60 to 70 percent have not returned, but they may return as housing is available (Copyright (c) 2005 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops http://www.americancatholic.org/News/katrina/NewOrleansFuture.asp

The New York Times reported in 2007 that:

This was not how Cindy Cole pictured her life at 26: living in a mobile home park called Sugar Hill, wedged amid the refineries and cane fields of tiny St. James Parish, 18 miles from the nearest supermarket. Sustaining three small children on nothing but food stamps, with no playground, no security guards and nowhere to go. No, Ms. Cole was supposed to be paying $275 a month for a two-bedroom house in the Lower Ninth Ward -- next door to her mother, across the street from her aunt, with a child care network that extended the length and breadth of her large New Orleans family. With her house destroyed and no job or savings, however, her chances of recreating that old reality are slim.

For thousands of evacuees like Ms. Cole, going home to New Orleans has become a vague and receding dream. Living in bleak circumstances, they cannot afford to go back, or have nothing to go back to. Over the two years since Hurricane Katrina hit, the shock of evacuation has hardened into the grim limbo of exile.

"We in storage, said Ann Picard, 49, cocking her arm toward the blind, white cracker box of a house she shares with Ms. Cole, her three niece, and Ms. Cole̢۪s three children. "We just in storeage"(Patchwork City, Road to life after Katrina is closed to many, Dewan, Shaila, July 12, 2007.

Three years later hundreds of thousand former residents still have not returned or live in FEMA camps with one bus each day that goes to Wal-Mart (Greg Palast, The Beg Easy to the Big Money)

In light of these facts, behold Arne Duncan's compassion and empathy. In a statement e-mailed to The Washington Post, Duncan elaborated on his despicable comment:

As I heard repeatedly during my visits to New Orleans, for whatever reason, it took the devastating tragedy of the hurricane to wake up the community to demand more and expect better for their children.

You can visualize him as cheap gumshoe in a cut-rate horrifying noir novel, sitting in his padded chair with his feet up on the cherry wood desktop, drinking bourbon and consorting and backslapping with his oligarchic and philanthropic 'pals' along with various venture capitalists looking for a quick buck, smoking cigars and celebrating the death of a city, its people, public education and the decimation of the future of youth and society.

The oligarchs and plutocrats now have, like rapacious mountain vultures, descended on the economic and physical despair of New Orleans and other geographically 'challenged communities' for profit (ibid). And Arne loves it -- as evidenced by his callous and insensitive world view devoid of any understanding of human ethics and compassion. But we knew this before: just a look at his dismal record in Chicago for evidence of this.

One of the Chicago Boys

According to the Washington Post, Arne's legacy in Chicago is not all it is laid out to be:

Duncan was in charge in Chicago from 2001 to 2009, or 8 years. During that time, Chicago public schools' 4th-grade math NAEP scores slowly rose from 214 to 222 (out of 500), or 8 points. In Washington, they went from 205 to 220, a rise of 15 points. The average large city math score went from 224 to 231, a 7-point gain. ("Education Secretary Arne Duncan's legacy as Chicago schools chief questioned," Washington Post, February 1, 2010)[first appeared Dec. 28, 2009]

Miami, Houston and New York had higher scores than Chicago on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Boston, San Diego and Atlanta had bigger gains. Even fourth-graders in the much-maligned D.C. schools improved nearly twice as much since 2003 (ibid).

Even the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago (Dunca'̢۪s old boss), which represents the business elite, their professional lackeys, pro-privatization education and cultural forces, concluded in June of 2009 that gains on state test scores were inflated when Illinois relaxed passing standards and that too many students still drop out of high school or graduate unprepared for college (ibid). Thanks, Arne, for the success.

Duncan's accomplishments in Chicago are a fraud and a cruel hoax at best. The Consortium on Chicago School Research, a nonpartisan group at the University of Chicago, reported in October that Duncan's closure of low-performing schools often shuffled students into comparable schools, yielding little or no academic benefit but certainly correlating with the massive killing of students and homelessness that has skyrocketed under Duncan's tutelage.

What about the student deaths and murders in Chicago due to school closures under Duncan?

What about the surge of student deaths in 2009, as many students had to cross gang neighborhoods in order to transfer to the new schools in Chicago that Arne had waiting for them due to 21 school closures? Arne forced the closure of 21 schools under his 'regime' and then shuffled students to other schools, many outside of their neighborhoods where they would then be forced to walk to school, for lack of busses, and cross gang lines. EducationWeek noted that:

A majority of Chicago students affected by school closings were sent to schools that were low-performing, just like those they left behind--moves that had no significant impact on performance for most students, a study released last week finds (Chicago School closings found to yield few gains, EducationWeek, October 30, 2009

As 'What About our Daughters', an organization devoted to stopping racial and gang killings stated:

I keep hearing all of these large sums of money people want to throw at this problem as if the solutions have to be high tech. If the problem is children being forced to walk through rival gang territory, the solution is called a SCHOOL BUS and neighborhood schools! It's called a massive police presence to stabilize violence plagued neighborhoods to allow the residents the same chance that people in Iraq and Afghanistan are being given. All of the 30 million dollar programs in the world aren't going to change life in Chicago if 85% of your kids are in poverty walking around with PTSD because they live in a war zone. Send in the National Guard already (So what is Arne Duncan saying: A Tale of Two Presidents Photo Essay on Safe Passage, whatabout our daughters, October 2009

Julie Woestehoff, the executive director of Parents United for Responsible Education, a Chicago advocacy group often critical of Mr. Duncan̢۪s initiatives as district chief, said:

the study's (referring to the study, by the University of Chicago's Consortium on Chicago School Research,) findings are more evidence that the district̢۪s reform strategies are not working. The group has called for the end of Renaissance 2010, a district program that closes low-performing schools and replaces them with charter and charter-like schools run by private groups (Chicago School closings found to yield, few gains, Education Week, Oct. 10, 2009.

Arne's response to all of this -- that which you would expect from someone suffering from psychological avoidance and denial:

We're proud to have made significant progress . . . and to really be a model of national reform. But again, hard work is going to continue there and is far from done (Education Secretary Arne Duncan̢۪s legacy as Chicago schools chief questioned, Washington Post, February 1, 2010

Student deaths and poverty are all collateral damage to Duncan and his puppet masters. So are facts. For you see, Duncan is little more than a high paid stooge and managerial fixer for the neo-liberal ruling class seeking to destroy public education, city by city, state by state in favor of privatizing schools. Perhaps they will use a disaster like Hurricane Katrina when they can, but more than not they use city wide economic disaster from thirty years of social and economic neglect to force their privatized agenda down the throats of the American people, all with dire consequences for populations effected, especially for people of color.

What about the collateral damage in New York, another one of Duncan's killing grounds?

According to Daily News staff writers, RACHEL MONAHAN AND MEREDITH KOLODNER, IN NEW YORK:

At 19 of the 20 schools that the Education Department announced last month it plans to shut down, the number of homeless kids jumped by more than 100%. All but one of the city schools slated for closure were grappling with more than failing test scores last year -- they also saw a massive spike in homeless students.

The increase swamped social workers and left principals scrambling for after-school funding to give kids a place to go after classes ended, teachers and administrators say.

At Public School 332 in Bushwick, Brooklyn, there were 95 homeless children enrolled last year -- close to one in five students. That̢۪s up from just 23 the year before (Number of homeless students jumps 100% at 19 of 20 schools on shutdown list, Daily News, January 18, 2010.

In fact, the reporters go on to document that:

The number of homeless students rose citywide last year, as the economic crisis cloaked the city. But the spike at all but one of the closing schools far exceeded the 20% citywide average.
"The [Education Department] has taken aggressive action to help address the profound challenges faced by students in temporary housing," department spokesman Danny Kanner said.

The Panel for Educational Policy will vote Jan. 26 on whether to approve the shutdown of the 20 schools deemed failing by the Education Department.

Jevommey, a ninth-grader at Christopher Columbus High School in the Bronx, began living in a shelter last June.

"It can be hard to do your homework because there's no privacy," said Jevommey, 17, who travels two hours to Columbus from a shelter in Brooklyn. "The classes are nice. I didn't want to change schools (ibid)

Just a little bit more of the civilian casualties, collateral damage in Arne Duncan's battle to privatize and close public schools. All in the name of educational reform.

Disaster Capitalism and the "Shock Doctrine": The Truth of the Matter

In 2005, after the devastation wrought in New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina, the atmosphere amongst many politicians and those in the business sector was jubilant. Commenting on the devastation wrought by tumultuous events before, during and especially after the hurricane, Richard Baker, a prominent republican congressman and sociopath from the city spoke to a group of lobbyists telling them:

We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did (Harwood 2005). Harwood, John Washington Wire: a special weekly Report from the Wall Street Journal's Capital Bureau, Wall Street Journal, September 9th, 2005)

What Baker was referring to were plans to level the existing public housing projects that had been in the city for years and ironically survived the hurricane. In a similar vein, Joseph Canizaro, a New Orleans developer expressed similar psychotic sentiments acknowledging:

I think we have a clean sheet to start again. And with that clean sheet we have some very big opportunities (Rivlin2005). "A mogul who Would rebuild New Orleans," NY Times, September 29, 2005).

Sound like Duncan's recent statements? You betcha! He's on board all the way with this crew and has been for some close to ten years. You lie with dogs, you get fleas.

The New Orleans 'plan' was to replace the leveled public housing units with private condos. And that's what happened. But this was not and is not part of just a 'housing plan' for urban New Orleans. No, the hurricane offered successive opportunities for politicians and businessmen alike. Lower taxes, fewer regulations, cheaper workers, gentrification, an opportunity for development of urban centers and yes, the replacement of the traditional public school system with a system of charter schools. No doubt Arne applauded this too!

But why did it take a hurricane to reverse the ravages of an ailing traditional public school system in favor of a new 'charterized' version of public choice? Why didn't privatization advocates like Baker and Canizaro jump on the New Orleans privatization bandwagon before the hurricane?

The answer to these questions lies with the ideology of neo-liberalism itself, as expressed by its main proponent, sociopath Milton Friedman, who ironically died less than a year after his economic philosophy was put into effect and became 'the charter experiment in New Orleans'. In Friedman's 1962 book entitled Capitalism and Freedom, Friedman was clear:

Only a crisis actual or perceived produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are around. That, I believe, is our basis function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable (Friedman 1962, 2). Capitalism and Freedom, 1962, p. 2 Reprint Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982)

Hurricane Katrina provided the impetus that Friedman counseled would be needed. With the city devastated and much of its population forced from the state, policy wonks, economists, developers, businessmen, corporations and politicians seized the hurricane as an opportunity for radical privatization, not much unlike that which Friedman had helped engineer in Chile decades prior.

In Chile, after Friedman's counsel and ideas came to hold sway under Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship, Chile saw its entire public school system replaced through privatization in the form of 'vouchers', long ago advocated by Friedman. How do you like them 'pickins,' Arne? Now, with New Orleans devastated the opportunity to privatize or at least reconfigure education presented itself as a gift horse opportunity and Arne has just justified this with his insane and ill-thought out comments. What a buffoon or is it worse? Could Arne Duncan be mentally unfit?

A little bit about the Arne Duncan the Wonder boy: Is Arne Duncan clinically a Schizophrenic?

Privilege and isolation from most poor residents of Chicago formed the ideological frontal lobes of Duncan̢۪s 'gated community mind'. Duncan attended the exclusive University of Chicago Lab Schools for grades K-12 and then went on to Harvard and played pro basketball in Australia. After that, he set up a charter school funded by an investment firm (Ariel Investments). This fact and his connections to the ruling elite, qualified him in 2001 to become first executive head of the Chicago Public Schools. There he worked assiduously to close schools, open up military charter schools, aid and abet the conspiracy to decimate public education and willingly sat as a lapdog on the suited legs of Mayor Daley. He was in sole control there for 8 years and the statistics, as stated above, testify to both his incompetence and lack of understanding of what the hell he is even doing.

As I mention in my article on Duncan in dissidentvoice.org, the only experience Duncan has ever had with teaching was as tutor for minority students. Duncan's primary means for "success" in Chicago has been to close down 21 schools, scatter all the staff, and students without public hearings that allow for fair-minded debate and start over with 'charter schools' and other privatization schemes like merit pay and then claim success. See http://thatsrightnate.com/. It would be unbelievable; if not for the fact it is the stark reality of social and economic devastation we are witnessing today city by city.

One can only cease to be amazed as to how the Obama administration could pick a man of such unethical caliber, of such shallow insight and with such a dismal record of failure in Chicago and elsewhere. How could a man, so ignorant of what it means to be educated, ever 'Race to the Top' when his only accomplishment is to represent the minority elite who run this country from the top down? Cronyism is the answer, and yes, it is front and center of the Obama educational initiatives which if you notice, never get any press either on the so-called right and so-called left. Race to the Top and Arne Duncan's plans for education are not even agendized in American media; they are the best kept secrets in American social policy. The whole plan has been black-bagged by capitalist vultures and enunciated so well by Arne.

New Orleans: Template for despair
Is Arne Duncan Insane?

What happened in New Orleans, is happening in other places as well, most notably Washington D.C., where charters account for 27% of all public student enrollment (El-Amine, Z. and L. Glazer 2008).

Yet in light of the deteriorating material conditions of capitalist life, the psychological sickness continues unabated; thus by implication, policy decisions seem bi-polar if not purely insane. So the question now surfaces in light of Duncan's insidious and racist comments coupled with his morbid social engineering policies: Is Arne Duncan and paranoid schizophrenic promoting paranoid schizophrenic educational polices that will serve to usher youth into madness?

What medical criteria for labeling one paranoid schizophrenia does Duncan meet or even exceed? To answer this, let's first look at the criteria for such diagnosis and the symptoms involved in paranoid schizophrenia. We might find, under critical scrutiny, that Duncan far exceeds the threshold for this mental disorder.

According to HealthSquare.com, the symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia are:

Confusion -- Secretary Arne Duncan seems to suffer from this symptom; he is unable to grasp the horror he is creating, he is confused as to public policy and the implications of his decisions which are really decisions made by his cronies and paymasters;

Inability to make decisions -- Here Duncan can be seen to fit the symptom for it is not he who makes decisions, it is his wholly owned Department of Education, little more than a subsidiary of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Walton Family Fund, the Eli Broad Foundation and the Fisher Family, amongst other philanthro-capitalists and crooks;

Hallucinations -- Arne Duncan fits this symptom to a tee. He harbors hallucinations regarding what privatized education can do for our kids and their education and future. The facts are clear, but Duncan continues to "see things that are not there", like improvements in student lives and education wrought by his vicious privatization policies;

Delusions --Duncan suffers from delusions of grandeur. He actually thinks he is capable to ‘turnaround’ public schools through his experiments in social engineering. Avoidance and denial is his recipe for deluded thinking and delusion is the consequence;

Nervousness -- Here Duncan also displays symptoms. When in public (which is not often in the national media) he is jerky, defensive, appears neurotic and detached from reality;

Strange statements of behavior -- Duncan̢۪s statements regarding the benefits of Hurricane Katrina on devastating public education are not simply strange, they are psychotic, and his behavior in terms of committing to and continuing a social policy that even his old bosses in Chicago say failed, is indicative of his symptomatic illness and borders on sociopathic behavior that feeds into his delusions of grandeur;

Indifference to the opinions of others -- Even in light of the facts surrounding the terror Duncan's policies are having on working families and their children, Duncan doesn't seem to care. He is indifferent to the opinions that he does not agree with, un-empathic shows little compassion for others and feeds on arrogance;

A tendency to argue -- Yes, this too is part and parcel of the Duncan mindset. He argues with teachers, students, union leaders and anyone who disagrees with him, but not in the interest of comprehensive and critical debate, but argumentatively and with the intent of destroying his opponents;

A conviction you are better than others-- Here is where the delusion of grandeur comes in again as Duncan actually thinks he is knowledgeable about education and social policy when his failures are like graffiti on an urban ghetto wall (paranoid schizophrenia, www.healthsquare.com)

Taken in tandem, it is hard to escape the fact that Arne Duncan fits the symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia like a well made shoe fits a foot. And this is the man who is in charge of the Department of Education. While Duncan works assiduously to destroy public education at the beckoning of his 'friends', many other Americans with similar symptoms are either languishing in mental hospitals, attending behavioral health groups, seeing personal psychiatrists or on psychotropic drugs. Not Arne. He prefers the 'beltway' and he is not alone. His colleagues and running dog lackeys seem to suffer from the same mental disorder chronicled above.

Take Paul G. Vallas, superintendent of the Recovery School District in Louisiana, which oversees most of the city's public schools, said he had "no problem" with Duncan's comments about the hurricane̢۪s beneficial effect on education. In fact he reechoed the passionate waltz of devastation economics, commenting:

Local people have said that time and time again. He's not saying hurricanes are good things. . . . What he's saying is that people were not serious about school reform [before the hurricane struck], and if they were serious, there wasn̢۪t any progress being made. And post-Katrina, there is." (ibid).

Paul Pastorek, Louisiana superintendent of education, said of Duncan's recent comments:

I know it's a strong statement, but it's actually quite accurate. It was a pathetic system before the storm (ibid).

Or look at The American Enterprise Institute, a neo-liberal think tank that embraces most if not all of the Friedman-Duncan economic ideology, and how they expressed their enthusiasm for the opportunity to implement Friedman's economic and public policy program of what can only be called slash and burn neo-liberalism this way:

Katrina accomplished in a dayâ€Â¦. What Louisiana school reformers couldn’t do after years of trying (Saulny 2006). "US Gives Charter Schools a Big Push in New Orleans" NY Times June 13, 2006)

As you can see, Arne is not alone in his mental illness; he is taking his cues from Reaganomics and the sociopath Milton Friedman who once said:

Only a crisis actual or perceived produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are around. That, I believe, is our basis function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable (Friedman 1962, 2).

Friedman went even further, noting shortly before his death in an interview in the Wall Street Journal:

Most New Orleans schools are in ruins. As are the homes of the children who have attended them. The children are now scattered all over the country. This is a tragedy. It is also an opportunity to radically reform the educational system (Freidman 2005). The Promise of Vouchers, Wall Street Journal, December 5, 2005).

Crisis is what the managerial vultures like Arne Duncan feed on. They are little more than callous and privileged bureaucrats taking their marching orders and capitalist cues from the interested corporate elite out to destroy unions, public education and privatize the whole system of schooling in the US. Crisis, both economic and man made by levees, are opportunities for his elite friends who he represents to embrace the hierarchy of education and privatization and go forward and put into place the plan concocted by right wing think tanks (adopted by Duncan in Chicago) and that now have been drilled and codified in federal law, Race to the Top, the brain child of Duncan and his shadow business government. So, as we see, the 'break' in the levees is seen by schizophrenic Arne Duncan and his cohorts as a 'break' for privatization and business efforts in education.

The Social and Educational Policies of a Paranoid Schizophrenic

Arne Duncan's candid and clear statements do little justice to what happened in New Orleans. Whether public housing or public education the race was on once the 'levees broke' no longer would New Orleans public schools be held hostage to teacher's unions, government bureaucrats, or regulation, oversight and transparency. Now, within months, if not weeks, well-heeled businessmen and lobbyists converged on New Orleans with well orchestrated and copious reorganization and restructuring plans to convert traditional public schools into charter schools. Arne was a witness to this and a player in the same board game in Chicago, answering to the same corporate masters.

These 'turnaround' schools, the new authoritarians hoped, would be then run by educational maintenance organizations (EMOs) for a profit. Friedman's plans would be one step closer to reality and the millions to be made in 'charterizing' public schools and then contracting them out to private EMOs would be enormously attractive and lucrative.

Within less than 19 months after the Hurricane most of the traditional public schools in New Orleans had been 'charterized' and not only were all public school teachers fired with lightening speed, but their collective bargaining gains were torn to shred along with any existing contracts. The charter movement exploded with a radical 'takeover' of public education.

Naomi Klein, in her book The Shock Doctrine, succinctly sums up the obvious:

I call these orchestrated raids on the public sphere in the wake of catastrophic events, combined with the treatment of disasters as "exciting market opportunities", "disaster capitalism" (Klein 2007). Naomi, The Shock Doctrine page 6)

Sure, it is criminal activity that can only be mitigated with a defense of insanity in a court of law for the rapid and irreversible changes in the New Orleans public educational system. This was the objective of the neo-liberal economists advising the state after the hurricane, mostly from the 'Chicago School of Economics' located at the University of Chicago where Friedman had left his guru-like mark and a well clad and well heeled group of admirers and supporters.

Conservative think tanks were at the beck and call of the new economics of charter schools in New Orleans, quickly advocating for-profit run charter schools, for-profit educational curriculum, for-profit services, curriculum and the like. They understood that the 'charter experiment' in New Orleans could spread like a cancer to other states if they acted swiftly enough to put their new plans for New Orleans education into immediate play. The movement had to be done with immediacy as Friedman counseled, and it was.

As Sarah Carr, a long time follower of the burgeoning charter school movement in New Orleans and staff writer for the Times Picayune noted the stampede towards the nut house in 2007:

Throughout the city, various organizations have stepped in to perform the functions no longer handled by a traditional central office. In effect, the role of the Orleans Parish schools administration -- which previously oversaw more than 120 schools and now oversees five traditional ones -- has been outsourced (Carr 2007) "Schools rely on more on outside help" by The Times-Picayune, November 28, 2007 9:11PM)

The other factor, outsourcing services, has been a boon for executive salaries, according to an article in the New Orleans Metro Real Time News:

Now in control of their own budgets, many New Orleans charter school boards have invested heavily in school leaders, with a few paying well into the six-figure range, doubling or tripling the salaries that principals earned under the old regime.

A top the pay range sits veteran Kathy Riedlinger, head of Lusher Charter School, who earns $203,556, including a $5,000 yearly car allowance. Lafayette Charter School̢۪s Mickey Landry, recruited from a prep school in a national search, is No.2 at $186,000.

At Ben Franklin High School, Principal Timothy Rusnak, also recruited nationally, earns $150,000 annually. And Jay Altman, chief executive of FirstLine Schools, earns $132,000 to oversee both S.J. Green and Arthur Ashe charter schools (Local school principals' pay reaches new heights by Brian Thevenot, B. (May 17, 2009) The Times-Picayune New Orleans Metro Real Time News .

Those salaries are the cit'̢۪s highest, but they reflect a broader trend of sizable increases for nearly all city school principals, charter and traditional. Nonprofit charter boards have generally led the way in boosting pay. But the market pressure has caused the Recovery School District and the Orleans Parish School Board to set more competitive salaries for their centrally managed schools.

State data show most New Orleans charter principals now earn between $80,000 and $110,000 annually, in line with national averages. Principals at RSD-operated schools make between $83,173 and $101,803. The Orleans Parish School Board pays base salaries between $82,330 and $92,054. Both agencies also pay stipends for additional work.

That's a big jump. Before Hurricane Katrina, which led to widespread chartering, base salaries for principals ranged from about $55,000 to about $70,000 (ibid) Sure, and this is why it is great news that the Hurricane devastated the city. Look at the positions created by the leisure class.

Louella Givens, New Orleans' only representative on the state board of education stated, when she asked about the exorbitant salaries:

I was essentially told that, because charters are independent, they have freedom to set salaries however they want. When I find out that some of these places are operating like little kingdoms, I think this kind of information should be readily available to the public. You assume there's oversight, but apparently there isn't (ibid)

It seems that salaries at the more affluent charters are much higher than those serving the neediest students. The myth that the New Orleans educational market naturally works in the favor of the neediest students under the novel New Orleans charter experience is itself a delusion, contradicted by mountains of evidence even a deranged mind like Arne's would have to give lip service to. This is troubling to many residents and those interested in public education for it seem illogical that those working with the most advantaged students would be rewarded greater than those who must work with students with greater educational needs.

In fact, after the hurricane and in the clamor to charterize as many schools as possible, an entire new educational system has emerged that is not only top heavy in 'executive salaries' but, according to Carr, outsourcing is the rule of thumb and:

â€Â¦.. the outsourcing is not to a single company or group. Instead, the job has gone to a complicated array of school administrations, nonprofit groups, foundations and charter school cooperatives, such as the Algiers Charter Schools Association.

Some charters have formed cooperatives, like the Algiers Charter School Association or the East Bank Charter School Cooperative, to bolster their economic might. For a fee of either $8,000 or $18,000 per year -- depending on the number of hours requested -- charter schools in the East Bank group can access joint legal services, communication, financial accounting, grant writing, public relations and local teacher recruitment, among other things. Baptist Community Ministries significantly subsidizes the cost to schools (ibid).

This is all great news for the managerial elite and is why Duncan seems so overjoyed at the devastation that led to 'deforming' the school system. New Orleans now boasts the largest number of charter schools serving the largest population of students in any state, with 55% of all public schools students in New Orleans now attending charter schools. And many of the charter schools are run by EMOs.

According to the Center for Educational Reform [pdf file]:

Louisiana̢۪s 66 charter schools serve a total of 23,600 students statewide, many of whom come from low-income families that are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch programs (CER Website 2009)


It is the Obama administration that gave us Arne Duncan, but he was probably dropped in Obama's lap by the privatizers who realized the federal, state and local governments are broke. Enchanted with his paranoid schizophrenic behavior and policies, charmed by his athletic prowess and familiarity with Obama, they embraced him like the lap dog he is.

So now what do we see? Corporatized health care, corporartized education, corporatized war, corporatized social services, and corporatized surveillance and incarceration to name just a few of the increasingly privatized policies. The whole Obama administration is deranged and their behavior, both individually and socially, would put them right into the straightjacket with Arne, or at least in the 'day room'. But to get Arne the help he needs it will take organization and effort on the part of the American public that day by day sees the social and economic horror mouthed, applauded and implemented by the Obama administration and especially the chainsaw massacre of public schools and education promoted by Duncan.

This is why we must mobilize on March 4th to tell the maniacs who now own America and its institutions that we̢۪ve had enough; that schizophrenic economic and social policies that favor the egocentric and pathological needs of a ruling class bent on turning America into a low-paid gulag is not acceptable. And we need to tell them loud and clear, for they don̢۪t seem to be taking their medication, forcing us instead to accept their evil prescriptions and their corporate medicine for social life.

Enough is enough: Duncan must go. His statements betray his interests and his interests are not those of working people, they are aligned with the interests of the powerful elite bent on destroying America for private profit. The same elite who display the symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia one can find in any medical journal. The inmates are now truly running the asylum. It is time to lock them up and get them the help they need.

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