Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Obama, Duncan To Defend RttT

Get ready for a week of ed deform jive:

President Barack Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan will deliver major speeches this week on their $4.35 billion Race to the Top school reform program, pushing back against complaints that it promotes unproven methods and ignores long-standing inequities in public education.

Speaking at the National Press Club on Tuesday, Duncan is expected to name a list of state finalists for the controversial grant program’s second round of funding and to explain why Race to the Top — the crown jewel of the administration’s education agenda — must continue. And on Thursday, Obama will talk about education at the annual gathering of the National Urban League, one of seven civil rights organizations that blasted Race to the Top in a report made public Monday.

The highly competitive initiatives “distribute resources by competition in the midst of a severe recession,” effectively reducing standard, formula-based federal education funding, according to the report. “Such an approach reinstates the antiquated and highly politicized frame for distributing federal support to states that civil rights organizations fought to remove in 1965.”

According to his prepared remarks, Duncan will argue that highly competitive grants such as Race to the Top have demonstrated that, in difficult budget times, nothing produces change as quickly as the opportunity to get more federal funding.

“Let’s not get sidetracked in a false choice between competitive and formula funding — because we need both,” Duncan will say, addressing criticism that Race to the Top comes at the expense of federal allocations for schools. “Even with increases in competitive funds under our proposed 2011 budget, 80 percent of our K-12 programs are formula programs. We want to recognize and reward high-achieving and high-growth schools — offering them carrots and incentives that we know drive reform and progress.”

As I have noted again and again, neither Duncan nor Obama are interested in hearing varying viewpoints on education policy.

They think the solutions entail more testing, teacher pay and evaluations tied to testing, firing teachers and principals, closing schools, and promoting charters.

That's all they want to hear. If you have an alternative view, as Diane Ravitch has or the members of the civil rights groups who released a critical report on RttT and the Obama ed policies yesterday have, they don't want to hear it.

They are feeling political pressure these days, so both Obama and Duncan will be more political about this stuff than they have in the past.

43% approval ratings will do that to a president.

But they still don't give a shit what anybody else thinks. The only answers they want to hear about education are more testing, teacher pay and evaluations tied to testing, firing teachers and principals, closing schools, and promoting charters.

That's what we're getting with RttT and that's what we will get when they do Obama's No Child Left Behind Jr. re-authorization after the November midterms.

Remember when Obama said he would take the punitive parts of NCLB out of education policy.

What a joke - he has quintupled them and is destroying public education in the process.


  1. I hope you are wrong, RBE. I thought that the recommendations of organizations that are on the front lines in the fight for social justice would have an impact on the policy.

    I look forward to hearing Obama's speak at the National Urban League's conference. I want to hear it from the man himself.

  2. I hope I am wrong too. But I don't think I am. RttT/NCLB Jr. (tests in every grade twice a year, teacher pay/evals tied to test scores, charter schools, school turnaround, teacher firings, school closures) are the CENTERPIECE of the Obama Change We Can Believe In program. They need to make it look like they are listening these days because his poll numbers and approval is so low; but watch what they're doing, not what they're saying. What they're doing is getting their way on almost every major part of the platform in many states - and on the cheap too. How much have they actually spent? ($500 million to two states.) They'll hand out most or all of the rest of the $4.3 billion this time around or risk having states rebel on them, but you can bet whatever "reforms" they don't get through RttT they will get through NCLB Jr. which Obama will do with the help of corporate whore Dems and Gopers after the Repubs take back the House and come close to taking back the Senate.

  3. Privatizing education is the warm-up for the really big show: cutting and/or privatizing Social Security. In 2012 Obama will attempt to make the first moves to sacrifice it in an attempt to save his presidency and appease the Austerity Party.

    Social Security is not just a proper noun: it also is a concept and an aspiration, one that Obama's neo-liberal cohort are intent on cutting and eventually privatizing, both in the (unspoken) name of fees and profits for Wall Street, and "disciplining" labor. In fact, one of the driving forces behind corporate ed deform is the imperative to discipline a (teaching) workforce that was one of the last to have some control over its labor.

    Obama is a transitional and diversionary figure, anointed years ago by the "liberal" foundations (which are not nearly as liberal as they'd have you believe), real estate (the Pritzkers, with Valerie Jarrett as point person) and finance (Paul Tudor Jones and other hedge fund masters) as a vehicle to harmlessly divert so-called progressive energies.

    Even his vaunted community organizing was not much more than dilletantism and stealth opportunism: he did it just long enough to add some grass roots cachet to his vita and catch the eye of some Big People, who promptly smoothed his passage to Harvard Law, where he established the pattern of simultaneously sucking the oxygen away from progressive issues and creating a spurious post-racial brand for himself.

    It's should come as no surprise that his first attempt at electoral politics was his failed race to unseat someone with a real radical past, Representative Bobby Rush. Rather than the error in judgement that it has been cast as, it is perhaps more significant than people think, signifying Obama's real status as a stalking horse for liberal corporatism.

  4. Obama sold out. Sorry but I kept waiting for Obama to get it about education, but he his hopeless. Obama is a failure on education. Arne "duh" Duncan. How dumb is he?

  5. Maybe I'm being hopeful or just naive.

    I really want the man to listen.

    I wrote more on this on here.

    Please check it out and leave a comment. Thanks