Well, of course Arne Duncan wouldn’t want Joshua Starr as NY schools chancellor.

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Montgomery County Schools Superintendent Joshua P. Starr.

The Washington Post reported yesterday that Obama’s Education Secretary Arne Duncan tried to pressure NY Mayor Bill De Blasio on his new school chancellor appointment.

Joshua Starr was on De Blasio’s short list.

Did Duncan overstep his duties in interfering in the De Blasio deliberation?

Of course.

Did Duncan have a good reason? Yes. Starr is everything Duncan is not. Duncan was simply echoing the views of his friends like right-winger Checker Finn.

Valerie Strauss posts award-winning school Principal Carol Burris, who has documented the problems with New York state’s new teacher evaluation system and talks about Starr and his history.

There are those who will ignore all of the elephants in the room—poverty, segregation, overcrowding, prejudice, inequitable learning opportunities, and watered-down curricula for some students. They will follow the reform playbook and shout “no excuses” at every turn.

Yet when school leaders like Josh Starr, who have done the real work of making schools better for students speak out, they are a threat to the lockstep reform agenda set by Finn and his friends. Finn saw fit to attack Starr because Starr’s importance extends beyond Stamford and Montgomery County. Parents listen when real reformers point out that today’s reform emperors have no clothes. They are credible critics who have no self-interested reason not to embrace test-based accountability reforms except that they are wise enough to know that those reforms simply will not work.

Folks like Chester Finn easily dismiss teacher unions and the leaders of struggling school systems as being awash in vested interests and ulterior motives. It is not as easy to dismiss a Josh Starr who runs great schools just a stone’s throw from Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s office. And that is why Chester Finn would spend an entire column criticizing one superintendent for his beliefs. As Finn knows, test-based accountability policies are deeply unpopular among parents across the nation, and their survival becomes more precarious when accomplished and courageous superintendents point to the truth.

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