It was disturbing to read the Arne Duncan tweet yesterday.
Although it was classic Arne, including words like “rigor” and “successful teachers,” without ever having to define what that all means.
When Arne was Obama’s Secretary of Education it was all about accountability as a race to the top, measured by test scores.
Federal funding was distributed on the basis of how students performed on standardized tests.
Test scores defined the successful teacher.
In Illinois, in order to even apply for a Race to the Top federal grant, laws were passed by the state legislature that tied teacher evaluation to individual student test scores.
Innovative teaching became the enemy of a good teacher performance review.
Then came Betsy DeVos. Her four year tenure as Secretary of Education was a full on assault on public schools and public school teachers. It went way beyond testing.
Now, with the departure of Trump’s Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, we are waiting to hear who Joe Biden will pick.
Corporatist Democrats like Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) are pushing for Duncan redux.
“Our primary goal is to persuade Biden to support — and to appoint a Secretary of Education who supports — innovation, public-school choice, and accountability,” DFER’s president Shavar Jeffries is quoted in Chalkbeat.
This is the language of Duncan.
For Duncan innovation didn’t start with the teacher in the classroom, but in a prescriptive common core.
Choice was all about the destruction of neighborhood schools.
Accountability was code for a torrent of testing.
We need a Secretary of Education who not only reverses the destructive four years of Betsy DeVos. We need a Secretary of Education who can have the federal government support a public school revival in the post-pandemic era, unfettered by Duncan-like constraints.