Monday, November 25, 2013

Arne Duncan -- Clueless Man or Male Chauvinist?

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan is the most clueless man in America.

He and is ilk take an Orwellian approach to life, saying Common Core, the latest movement in K – 12 public school, educational reform, was adopted and voluntarily accepted by 45 of the 50 states.

It’s all in how you define “voluntarily.” 

As parents across the country are fast becoming aware, it looks more like this:   Under the cover of the darkness of night, their governor or state board of education pulled a fast one, adopting Common Core without putting it before the voters or their state legislature first.

Compare that to how Massachusetts went about reforming its schools, long before there was anything called a Common Core.  Back in 1993, the state legislature very publicly took up the issue of improving the schools. 

It was hotly contested and received a lot of press, providing Bay State parents with time to look at the condition of the state’s public school education and how it compared to what their peers across the country and overseas were doing.

The result was that the State House decided to reform the schools and, 20 years later, Massachusetts can rightfully claim to have some of the best public schools in the country.

In fact, based on some of the latest international testing results, Bay State kids hold their own against some of the best students in the world.  And it was due to the fact that education was focused on pushing the kids to read, write and understand math and science better than they had before.

Still, in spite of being considered a top state for public school education, Massachusetts succumbed to Common Core's tactics, with the only vote approving this latest reform movement done by the board overseeing the state's department of elementary and secondary education.  

And now Arne and his Common Core co-conspirators have a problem.

Parents are organizing, screaming that Common Core’s standards are dumbing down education – and there are plenty of experts to back that up – and, as a result, some state legislatures are taking a look at this thing, scaling it back or putting it on hold for further review.

This is what happens, Arne, when you insult the voters’ intellect, especially parents, and fail to follow President Abraham Lincoln’s maxim – “I’m a firm believer in the people.  If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis.”

Even my elder son’s fifth grade teacher says Common Core is slowing down math education.  It’s not enough to know that 10 divided by 2 equals five; now the kids need to write an essay.  Really?

The public school system in our little Burg may want to treat kids like idiots, but we don’t:  We think our sons are damn intelligent and deserve better.

Which is why, Arne, my wife and I took matters into our own hands and send them to the Russian School of Mathematics.

Which is why, Arne, instead of pushing my elder son to re-read “No Talking,” a book that’s about five steps above “Dick and Jane,” I had him read “Catcher in the Rye.”

Which is why, Arne, from time to time, the boys will read stories in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe and the Boston Herald.

In the 21st century, Arne, it’s critical our sons have the skills necessary to compete against kids from South Korea, China, Japan – and elsewhere around the globe – where education is taken seriously and kids are pushed to achieve more, not less.

I don’t know where you’ve been, Arne, but you haven’t been standing on the sidelines of baseball and basketball games or on the decks of swim meets, making casual conversation with suburban moms as their children participate in sporting events.

Had you been doing so, you’d come to know them the way I do – incredibly intelligent, committed to their professional success and their children’s education.

In addition, there’s something else, Arne, you don’t know about suburban moms – they’re educated, holding college degrees and then some.  

Maybe they didn’t all go to Harvard like you did, Arne, or Columbia, like your boss, but their college degrees are just as good as yours.

Because today they’re doctors, lawyers, cardiac nurses and registered ones, too, FBI agents, securities regulators, pharmacists, writers, journalists, public relations executives, bank regulators, accountants, sales, marketing and advertising executives, teachers and one I know pretty well manages a sizeable city in a western state.

So Arne, they’re not going to stand for being disparaged as a bunch of no-nothings, and they’re not buying snake oil either!

The taxpayers, Arne, pay your salary.  In this democracy of ours – as suburban moms will be happy to remind you – you report to us!


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