Obama’s Ed Secretary: I Wish I’d Pushed Common Core ‘Even Harder’

Obama’s Ed Secretary: I Wish I’d Pushed Common Core ‘Even Harder’

The famously fatuous school leader who continually failed upward says he regrets not re-engineering even more of American life without the input of the American people or their representatives.
Joy Pullmann
By

President Obama’s education secretary Arne Duncan published a memoir out Tuesday, in which the famously fatuous school leader who continually failed upward says he regrets not re-engineering even more of American life without the input of the American people or their representatives.

The memoir discusses, in part, the Obama administration’s decision to use an education slush fund from inside the 2008 “stimulus” money Christmas to lure nearly every state to adopt untried, then-unwritten curriculum mandates and tests called Common Core, then rate teachers and schools according to how well they followed these orders from people who almost uniformly had never taught in a K-12 classroom. The predictable result was years of chaos inside American schools and, nearly a decade later, zero improvement in academic outcomes.

But, Duncan says, the real problem was that Americans on both the political Left and Right strenuously objected to his pie-in-the-sky schemes for their kids and money. If he could “do all over again, I would push even harder than we did,” he writes, according to Education Week. This is the lesson the Left is learning from their failures, folks: Citizens are going to protest anyway, so compromise less. This level of arrogance is frightening.

“Each difficult change inevitably would have been punted further down the road, and in the end, nothing would improve,” Duncan writes in “How Schools Work.” “Students would still be short-changed, the country would continue to fall behind its international peers, and there would still be plenty of pushback. For me then, it was all or nothing. (Actually, if I had it to do all over again, I would push even harder than we did; there’s never a ‘right’ time for fundamental change.)”

In the book, say reports, Duncan mostly chalks mass grassroots resistance to the Obama administration’s education policies to “poor communication.” It wasn’t anything wrong with the administration’s agenda, no, just that people simply couldn’t understand it. Of course, the humble and most direct thing to consider would be that Americans understood perfectly, and that’s why they objected. Still, Duncan’s arrogance keeps him mystified about why even Obama allies like teachers unions, albeit late in the game, started opposing Common Core and especially its enforcement, tests.

“These folks [teachers unions], many of whom supported Barack Obama, should have been our natural allies,” he writes in his book, according to The 74. “But because we were miserable at communicating how and why things were happening, and why they were important, it made things worse.”

The real reason Americans revolted over Obama’s control-obsessed money-wasters like Common Core and regulations that had the effect of forcing little kids to sit and stare at tests they chose not to take, Duncan writes, is that Americans simply didn’t understand how good central planning would surely be for education, even though it’s been proven an atrocity-filled failure in every other domain of human existence. Once again, Duncan proves you can’t reason with stupidity.

“In the midst of such rapid change we proved terrible at explaining [stimulus fund Race to the Top’s Common Core-pushing] goals and methods to teachers, and even worse at explaining them to parents,” he writes. “We could have done a much better job, and spent a little money, helping states explain and publicize what they were attempting and what the goals were.”

Poor, stupid witto Americans! You yoga-pantsed “white suburban moms” just don’t know a thing about how to make your stupid kids look smarter than they really are so they can get into college and have a decent life! We’ll just do that for you, okay? Don’t bother looking under the hood of this plane we built while flying it. Trust us experts. It’s safe! We know what’s best for your kids way more than you do!

Ah, yes, I can hardly understand why that honest depiction of the way top-down government works wasn’t a winning message. I can also hardly understand why it makes any sense for Americans to be suspicious of the threadbare platitudes still fluttering without change from a man who did nothing, while in charge, to improve one of the nation’s long-time worst-performing school districts, which is about to bankrupt the entire state of Illinois; whose other signature spend as education secretary, on “School Improvement Grants,” was a forseeable $7 billion failure; and whose promises to the nation have been repeatedly been proven to be untrustworthy illusions that threaten the sanctity of family peace, school effectiveness, and government “by the people, of the people, and for the people.”

Obama’s words at Duncan’s departure were proven frighteningly accurate by Duncan’s tenure as national education czar: “He’s done more to bring our educational system, sometimes kicking and screaming, into the 21st century than anyone else.” If the twenty-first century is all about mangling children’s relationships with their families and schools, you sure got that right, buddy. Excuse me while I go put up a Trump sign in my lawn in a desperate attempt to make sure people like you don’t get power over me and my kids.

This guy didn’t deserve to be elevated to the position of education secretary in the first place. He had no track record of improving a single  student’s education, let alone that of a whole class, let alone that of a whole school. Yet he was given the power to affect every school in the nation, thanks to a combination of Obama administration hubris, a government far too big for its britches, and congressional dereliction of duty. What Duncan did while education secretary should shame him out of public life for the rest of his days, not grant him a lifelong platform to keep sharing his destructive and foolhardy opinions about “How Schools Work.”

Joy Pullmann is executive editor of The Federalist and author of "The Education Invasion: How Common Core Fights Parents for Control of American Kids," out from Encounter Books in 2017. Get it on Amazon.
Photo Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon / public domain

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