On this Friday’s Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers radio show/podcast we will be talking about the current state of school reform both here in Chicago and nationally.
We were going to spend some time on Arne Duncan’s latest book about his tenure as Chicago schools’ CEO and then as Secretary of Education.
We even invited him to join us.
Through a spokesman, he declined.
UIC Professor (retired) Bill Ayers will be in studio.
I read his book. It’s short but not exactly a page turner.
His first chapter is called “Lies, Lies Everywhere,” which is very appropriate for this book.
I don’t want to ruin it for you but in this novella the protagonist did nothing wrong. He was never in doubt about his plans for fixing what we all broke.
And Duncan provides no quantitative data to prove it.
That was surprising to me.
Here was a guy who argued most enthusiastically for data driven decision making and data based accountability.
And then it ends up that there is none to be found in the far-from-epic story he weaves of battling the unions and suburban moms.
Nothing. Not even one bar chart or spreadsheet. No evidence other than his say so.
Not that I believe quantitative data alone tells the whole story.
But you can’t just make stuff up and claim everything you did worked and only failed when the evil forces allied against your vision of change were able to block you.
As I read chapter after chapter about Race to the Top I kept thinking about his decision to use federal funding to force states to evaluate teachers based on individual student performance on high stakes tests.
In Illinois, the results were disastrous.
It resulted in the legislature passing the Performance Evaluation Reform Act (PERA) in hopes of the state getting a piece of the Race to the Top money.
In the end, Illinois got peanuts and teachers got the shaft.
And apparently, nobody will be held accountable for that.
Our show is Friday at 11am. 105.5fm in Chicago. Download the Lumpen Radio app for internet listening. Or listen to the Podcast on wifi or download.