Sunday, October 2, 2011

arne duncan - the BS whisperer

Sometimes I wonder why I do the things I do. Last year, watching MSNBC's, now annual corporate education deform infomercial, Mis Education Nation, my already hormonally hot self became even hotter. Despite having this prior learning embedded in my schema, I decided to watch the segment, Classrooms in Action: A Window on Great Teaching to see what 'great teaching' looks like because surely, as a veteran educator, I couldn't possibly know. And since none of the corporate ed deformers have been able to substantively define it, I thought maybe this segment would finally crack the code. ...Oh, crap! This segment is brought to me by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation! ...OK. Never mind. I probably won't see any code being cracked in this segment, after all. But since I'd already pointed and clicked, I thought I hang in there to see what my idiotic dimwit of a Secretary of Education would have to say about "great teaching".

After viewing Arne's pick for "great teaching" in action, IN the classroom of the "great" teacher an interesting question was asked:

Anne Curry:  Secretary Duncan, here’s the situation. In this particular school, on paper, is an affluent, suburban middle school: 82.95% white, 90% non-economically disadvantaged. You can see that they have all kinds of materials. There are lots of schools where the students don’t even have pencils, don’t have notebooks, and yet look at what these kids have! So of course these kids have a better start! Isn’t this something we should have for every school, no matter what the economic background? 
Arne Duncan:  Absolutely. (<--That was his answer. Period! Then he goes into empty rhetoric mode. -->)  Education has to be the great equalizer and whether you’re coming from an affluent background, or whether you have parents who neither one graduated from elementary school, every child in this country deserves a world-class education. Teachers like Kyle are just absolutely amazing. Every teacher needs a great great teacher like that but a huge part of our job is to make sure children in traditionally underserved communities, be they urban or rural or remote, have a chance to have a world-class education. As a country, that’s what we stand for.  (<-- BS ALERT! WE DON’T, as a country, stand for that! We stand for war and corporate greed, dude!) We all have to work together, the federal level, the state level, local level ….business community, philanthropic community. If we’re not giving children these kinds of opportunities, we’re just robbing them of their future and ultimately hurting the country.

Me:  Arne, are you really that dim or are you just trying to mess with us? Let me help you out here. Curry was asking you to tell the audience what you could do to make certain children in impoverished schools received those resources as well. Specifically. Empty rhetoric not allowed. But that’s all you gave us. More of the same, empty BS.

Anne Curry:   …Secretary Duncan, I think what we are really seeing here though is that we need to figure out a way for all schools to get the resources to be able to get this kind of opportunity for these students to get hands on learning that seems to part of the equation for creating good teaching. 
Arne Duncan:  Hugely important. (<--That was his response. Then he changes the narrative yet again. -->) I just want to thank Kyle. He’s an amazing amazing teacher. His students are so lucky to have him. You asked me to pick one highlighting great teaching, but let me tell you we have hundreds of thousands of teachers around the country every single day with Kyle’s creativity, passion and commitment. We can’t do enough to shine the spotlight on great teaching. I appreciate the opportunity you’ve given us to do that.
Me:  Arne. Arne. Arne. Curry reframed the question in an attempt to get you to answer it. But again, you didn't! Well, bully for you! Rather than answering questions in a substantive manner, you simply cut and paste a collection your BS sound bites into the dialogue to fill the time. You, Arne, are a chicken. I dare you to tell us how you can make sure ALL schools receive the resources that affluent, suburban schools do! I dare you.

NOTE TO ARNE: While we're at it, saying "great great" or "amazing amazing" is not the way to increase the power of a word. At least try pulling out a thesaurus, dude! You're modeling bad English for our nation's school children. And given your hard-on enthusiasm for world-class academic standards, I would expect the Secretary of Education to be more erudite!