Orwell Award Announcement SusanOhanian.Org Home

NCLB Outrages

Obama Slam-Duncans Education

By Greg Palast

Hey, you Liberal Democrats. You may have won
the election, but you're getting CREAMED in the

Today, President-elect Barack Obama stuck it to
you. He's chosen Arne Duncan as Secretary of

Who? Duncan is most decidedly not an educator.
He's a lawyer. But Duncan has this
extraordinary qualification: He's Obama's pick-
up basketball buddy from Hyde Park.

I can't make this up.

Not that Duncan hasn't mucked about in the
educational system. Chicago Boss Richie Daley
put this guy in charge of the horror show
called Chicago Public Schools where Duncan
turned a bad system into a REALLY bad system.

And Obama knows it. Indeed, although he plays
roundball with Duncan (who was captain of the
Harvard basketball team), State Senator Obama
was one of the only local Chicago officials who
refused to send his kids to Duncan's public
schools. (The Obamas sent Sasha and Malia to
the Laboratory School, where Duncan's methods
are derided as dangerously ludicrous.)

So, if The One won't trust his kids to Duncan,
why is he handing Duncan ours?

The answer: Duncan is supported by a coterie of
teacher-union hating Republicans. The vocal
cheerleader for the Duncan appointment was
David Brooks, the New York Times
columnist; the REPUBLICAN columnist.

Hey, didn't those guys LOSE?

The problem with Duncan is not party
affiliation. The problem is education
philosophy. And Duncan is a Bush baby through
and through, a card-carrying supporter of the
program best called, "No Child's Behind Left."

At the heart of the program is testing. And
more testing. Testing instead of teaching. When
tests go badly, the solution is to push the
low-test-score kids to drop out of school. If
triage isn't enough, then attack their

Here's how Duncan operates this Bush program in
Chicago at Collins High in the Lawndale ghetto.
Teachers there work with kids from homeless
shelters from an economically devastated
neighborhood. Believe it or not, the kids don't
get high test scores. So Chicago fired the
teachers, every one of them. Then they brought
in new teachers and fired THEM too when,
surprise!, test scores still didn't rise.

The reward for a teacher volunteering for a
tough neighborhood is to get harassed, blamed
and fired. Now THAT'S a brilliant program, Mr.
Duncan. But Duncan's own failures have not
gotten HIM fired. As long as his 20-foot
jumpshot holds, he's Mr. Secretary.

In no other cabinet department is the lack of
expertise, lack of accomplishment, lack of a
degree in the field found acceptable but in

But what horrifies me more than Duncan's lack
of credentials is Obama's kowtowing to the
right-wing clique crusading against the
teachers' union and progressive education. The
ill philosophy behind the Bush-brand education
theories Duncan promotes, "Teach-to-the-Test,"
forces teachers to limit classroom time to
pounding in rote low-end skills, easily
measured on standardized tests. The transparent
purpose is to create a future class of worker-
drones. Add in some computer training and -
voila! - millions of lower-income kids are
trained on the cheap to function, not think.

Analytical thinking skills, creative skills,
questioning skills are left exclusively to
privileged little Bushes at Phillips Andover
Academy or privileged little Obamas at the
Laboratory School.

For the rest of America's children, instead of
hope, we'll have hoops.

Greg Palast is the father of school-aged
twins and the author of, "Armed Madhouse: Who's
Afraid of Osama Wolf?, China Floats, Bush
Sinks, The Scheme to Steal '08,No Child's
Behind Left" his New York Times bestseller,
Armed Madhouse. Palast is a Nation Institute
Puffin Foundation Fellow for investigative

— Greg Palast
Information Clearinghouse


This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of education issues vital to a democracy. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information click here. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.