What Does He Take Us For?

Arne Duncan of Friday Night Massacres fame has an op-ed in the WSJ today

I’m not sure how someone can take 707 words to say almost nothing of substance, but Duncan somehow manages to do it.  What little he has to say seems to be this — If we improve the quality of data about low-performing public schools they will experience pressure to improve and will respond to that pressure:

“When stakeholders — from parents and business leaders to elected officials — understand that standards vary dramatically across states and many high-school graduates are unprepared for college or work, they will demand change.”

Didn’t Duncan get the cue card from his teacher union masters that it is now spelled “steakholders“?

But more to the point, does Duncan really think that the central impediment to school improvement is that we lack information about how bad things are?  Really?

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m all for improved data, but it seems to me that we already have plenty to understand the magnitude of the problem. 

In addition, it’s not at all clear how Duncan will get us to that dreamy, far-off land “when stakeholders [sic]”, “when parents,” “when educators,” and “when community leaders” will do the various things he describes once they have improved data.  Does he really think that dangling $5 billion in federal funds in front of the states will get the improved data he wants let alone all of the proper responses to the information (that all of these folks already possess)?

Lastly, Duncan has the gall to repeat: “We must close the achievement gap by pursuing what works best for kids, regardless of ideology.” Given how he willfully has ignored the D.C. voucher evidence as he moves to kill that program for ideological reasons, he isn’t exactly credible.

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