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Arne and Karen Duncan's letter to own children...cringeworthy with harm done to public education.

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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-23-11 12:35 PM
Original message
Arne and Karen Duncan's letter to own children...cringeworthy with harm done to public education.
Edited on Fri Sep-23-11 01:22 PM by madfloridian
When I read this letter at the Education department website, I was surprised. My first thought was that much of what they want for their own children's education may soon not be available in traditional public schools. Not if the current standardized testing fever continues.

I am not sure whether to call it hypocritical or simply clueless and naive about what is happening to our schools and teachers right now. He is in charge of America's public school policy...his "reform" ideas are affecting schools and teachers and students throughout the country. He should not be unaware that what he wants for his own children is quite different from those policies.

An Open Letter from Secretary Arne Duncan and Karen Duncan to Their Children

It begins Dear Claire and Ryan:

Now that youve been back in class for more than a week, were so happy that youve settled in and are enjoying school. Our hope for you this year is that you will be challenged academically. You have some terrific teachers to support you. We want your love of literature to grow, and well do our part by reading to you every night. We hope you will develop critical thinking skills in math, and we promise to help you when youre struggling and celebrate when youre succeeding. We would like to see you engaged in learning science, civics, and history, and we will continue to explore the natural world at nature centers, museums, and many of the other great resources in the Washington area.

We also want you to enjoy so many other enriching experiences that are so important to a complete education. We know you have great music, art, and physical education teachers at your school, and we believe that these subjects are essential for a well-rounded curriculum. And so is recess. We want you to have fun!

Because we believe that learning happens outside of the classroom, we would encourage you to seek out opportunities for leadership and service. As a family, weve all enjoyed service events like building playgrounds and painting murals in local schools. We hope youll do service activities with your classmates and strive to be leaders in the student government and other activities at school.

We are proud of you and excited for you. We have dedicated our lives to learning and to helping others receive a great education. Our greatest hope is that youll go back to school every fall excited and ready to learn.


His policies have enabled very wealthy investors to divert public funds for the charter schools they favor which are often not regulated locally. As the taxpayer money leaves the public schools, they are being forced to end such programs as Arne and his wife describe above. Teachers are laid off and temp teachers like TFA are hired. Art, music, and PE teachers are often the first to go.

And school libraries? That is the most shocking of all.

The school libraries are often abandoned now, and the funding from the federal government is slowing for their funding.

American Library Association says Obama's education department abandoning school libraries.

It's official. Media centers around the country won't be getting one cent from the Improving Literacy Though School Libraries program in FY2011. For the first time since it was created in 2001, the federal grant program is being zeroed out, following a decision Monday by the Department of Education (DOE).

"This decision shows that school libraries have been abandoned by President Obama and the Department of Education," says Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the American Library Association's (ALA) Washington Office.


Here is more detail about that program. Money that once went to school libraries now must be shared with other initiatives.

The proposed literacy fund, along with the Departments Race to the Top and Investing in Innovation (i3) programs, intentionally allow for greater spending flexibility at the state and local level, but AASLs incoming president expressed concern that school libraries were not explicitly named components of these grant programs.

If were not on the roster, we cant get into the game, Nancy Everhart said, employing a sports metaphor with the basketball-playing secretary.


Compare what Arne and Karen Duncan want for their children with what is really going on right now in the public school arena.

I quote from an article by Chris Hedges at Truth Dig. He says it better than I ever could.

Why the United States is destroying her education system

A nation that destroys its systems of education, degrades its public information, guts its public libraries and turns its airwaves into vehicles for cheap, mindless amusement becomes deaf, dumb and blind. It prizes test scores above critical thinking and literacy. It celebrates rote vocational training and the singular, amoral skill of making money. It churns out stunted human products, lacking the capacity and vocabulary to challenge the assumptions and structures of the corporate state. It funnels them into a caste system of drones and systems managers. It transforms a democratic state into a feudal system of corporate masters and serfs.

Teachers, their unions under attack, are becoming as replaceable as minimum-wage employees at Burger King. We spurn real teachersthose with the capacity to inspire children to think, those who help the young discover their gifts and potentialand replace them with instructors who teach to narrow, standardized tests. These instructors obey. They teach children to obey. And that is the point. The No Child Left Behind program, modeled on the Texas Miracle, is a fraud. It worked no better than our deregulated financial system. But when you shut out debate these dead ideas are self-perpetuating.

Passing bubble tests celebrates and rewards a peculiar form of analytical intelligence. This kind of intelligence is prized by money managers and corporations. They dont want employees to ask uncomfortable questions or examine existing structures and assumptions. They want them to serve the system. These tests produce men and women who are just literate and numerate enough to perform basic functions and service jobs. The tests elevate those with the financial means to prepare for them. They reward those who obey the rules, memorize the formulas and pay deference to authority. Rebels, artists, independent thinkers, eccentrics and iconoclaststhose who march to the beat of their own drumare weeded out.


What Arne and Karen Duncan want for their own children appears to me to be quite different than what Arne is allowing to happen in public education.

It is either clueless, naive, or he is hypocritical indeed.

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Bunny Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-23-11 12:40 PM
Response to Original message
1. Who writes Open Letters to their kids?
That's fucking weird.
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rfranklin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-23-11 12:48 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. They are using their kids as props in their publicity campaign...
then when someone finds out the kids are dope addict and drunks and raises questions, there will be indignant cries of "how dare you violate the privacy of our children?!!"
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JDPriestly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-24-11 04:16 PM
Response to Reply #1
17. And it reads like an introduction to an education text for elementary
school teachers. How stupid and off-key can you get?
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-23-11 12:51 PM
Response to Original message
3. Letter was cross posted at Parenting. com.
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Missy Vixen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-23-11 01:37 PM
Response to Original message
4. Thank you for posting this
Perhaps Mr. Duncan needs to take a closer look at what's being done in his name...

:eyes:
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msongs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-23-11 01:51 PM
Response to Original message
5. the elitist lives of the pampered ruling classes with their filthy rich friends nt
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-23-11 02:36 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. Yep. Heck I wanted this for own kids and for all my students.
Those are universal desires, but they sound off kilter now coming from him. What he has done to education in the last two years is a shame.
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mmonk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-23-11 01:59 PM
Response to Original message
6. Recommended (as usual).
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sabrina 1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-23-11 02:42 PM
Response to Original message
8. Are his children in Public School?
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-23-11 03:29 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. Well, I found this. It's kind of an odd thing to say as well.
http://ednotesonline.blogspot.com/2009/04/where-arne-du...

"When asked this question: As the second education secretary with school-aged kids, where does your daughter go to school, and how important was the school district in your decision about where to live?

Duncan replied: "She goes to Arlington (Virginia) public schools. That was why we chose where we live, it was the determining factor. That was the most important thing to me. My family has given up so much so that I could have the opportunity to serve; I didn't want to try to save the country's children and our educational system and jeopardize my own children's education."

Check the class size in Arlington and also the per spending per pupil. I wonder why he didn't send his kids to DC schools under Michelle Rhee? Think his daughter is going to get enough test prep? Does Arlington have mayoral control of schools? Or does Duncan get to vote on school budgets and have a school board? Duncan sends his kids to schools where he gets the same parental privileges that he wants to deny parents in urban school districts."


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sabrina 1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-23-11 09:17 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. Thank you, it's nice that he can choose where to buy a house
Most families don't even own homes, and many of those who do are not in a position to sell them and move to more expensive areas.

Maybe he's just not especially bright? That was the impression I got of him when I saw him being challenged by a teacher in an interview.

Maybe he doesn't realize the harm these policies are doing? Could he be that dense? Good question as to why he didn't send his kids to DC schools under Rhee. So, maybe not dense, just arrogant?

Thank you, madfloridian, great post as usual.

Keep exposing them, the corruption and incompetence is destroying this country, everywhere you look :cry:
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TBF Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-23-11 09:58 PM
Response to Original message
11. Well that's nice that his daughters still have art classes -
the "art class" is now taught by the classroom teacher in my daughter's elementary, and we are in a so-called "upscale neighborhood". But this is Texas - cut the art teacher & hire 2 phys ed teachers ...
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-24-11 12:27 AM
Response to Reply #11
12. Art and music teachers....
in our area are hired for large areas...traveling from school to school. We for years had one of each at every school, but that could not be tolerated by the deficit hawks. Now they have even taken nurses from each school, and spread them over areas.
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madrchsod Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-24-11 12:49 PM
Response to Original message
13. children in the CPS system do not have recess...
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madrchsod Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-24-11 12:54 PM
Response to Original message
14. if it was`t for my art and history teachers i would`t have graduated..
they were actually going to help me get into the chicago art institute but like a dumb ass i went in another direction.
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bertman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-24-11 01:27 PM
Response to Original message
15. I'm going with Hypocritical and Mendacious (even though Mendacious was not a choice).
The man is in it for the power, the prestige, and the money. He sure as hell is not doing his job on behalf of America's educational system or the betterment of America's youth.

Too late to rec, but here's a kick.

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LWolf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-24-11 02:22 PM
Response to Original message
16. Arne Duncan. Synonymous with plague boil to me. nt
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blkmusclmachine Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-24-11 04:17 PM
Response to Original message
18. This is what drowning the Country in a RW bathtub looks like.
n/t
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theaocp Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-24-11 04:43 PM
Response to Original message
19. You don't want to know what I'd like to do with Arne.
That being said, I teach my kids two important things:

a) be a loud-mouth in your writing. One and two-sentence answers generate nothing. Tell me what's really behind your thinking.

b) I like disagreement. I WANT them to disagree. Our minds only grow when we contrast our beliefs with something else. If we agree afterward, fine. However, we might learn something new.

Far be it from Duncan McFuckhead to actually put that kind of thinking into play. Back to the basketball court for you, fraud. No, really. Leave the rest of us the fuck alone. You. are. not. helping.

Thanks, Obama.
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chervilant Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-24-11 08:40 PM
Response to Original message
20. Kicking and Reccing
Each and every time I read one of your posts, I cry. I still cannot get a contract to teach, and I have finally accepted that the state of Texas will NOT employ a 55 yo woman with a Master's and a political sensibility far to the left of most 'educators' in and around Houston.

Local school librarians are being RIFfed, and school libraries are closing, due primarily to funding cuts. Art and music teachers are disappearing fast. Class sizes are increasing beyond the number of students each teacher should be expected to instruct. In some schools, entire staffs have become anxious and distrustful. Anyone who teaches can confirm that our students readily pick up on these sad emotional undercurrents.

None of this matters to the uber wealthy (or sock puppets like Arne), because their children don't have to attend any of the schools they're systematically destroying.

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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-24-11 09:00 PM
Response to Reply #20
21. "school libraries are closing, due primarily to funding cuts"
A commentary on our times in this country.
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