Years ago the late Gilda Radner played a hilarious character on Saturday Night Live named Emily Litella. Emily would appear on Weekend Update and read a passionate editorial against something or the other. The joke was that she got the issue all confused.
She once ranted against those who were opposed to violins in schools, only to be corrected. The issue was violence in schools.
“Never mind,” Litella would say.
The New York Times’ Sam Dillon reports on Arne Duncan’s Emily Litella moment.
When the Obama administration was seeking to drum up support for its education initiatives last spring, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told Congress that the federal law known as No Child Left Behind would label 82 percent of all the nation’s public schools as failing this year. Skeptics questioned that projection, but Mr. Duncan insisted it was based on careful analysis.
Now that the numbers are officially out, Duncan (and Obama, who repeated the lie), has been shown to be wildly wrong.
And even the officially reported estimate of 48% is suspect since it is based on testing information that is entirely unreliable.
But Duncan saying “never mind” won’t repair the damage done to teachers, schools and communities who were labeled as failing.
“Never mind” won’t undo the campaign of attacks on public education, the boost the lies gave to privatization and bullshit storefront charters and private for-profit management firms.
Gilda Radner’s Emily Litella was funny.
Arne isn’t funny.