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Arne Duncan Doubles Down on “White Suburban Moms” Comment, Promotes Economic Ignorance

{!hitembed ID=”hitembed_1″ width=”500″ height=”300″ align=”none” !}

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan doubled down on his “white suburban moms” comment concerning the Common Core Standards. Duncan at first said opposition to the Common Core State Standards was interesting because “white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were, and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were.”

It is the kind of condescending attitude one expects from education privatizers. But when confronted with such an amazingly arrogant statement Secretary Duncan only apologized for the “clumsy” phrasing, not the sentiment. Then he went on a long diatribe about economics and education that made it clear Duncan had not been properly educated on the subject.

[American children] are competing for jobs in India, China, Singapore, South Korea – that’s the competition we all need to come together and help our students be successful there. And the best way to do that is to grade teachers.

Fail. Actually two failures. First, that’s not how economics works. Second, there is no evidence “grading teachers” leads to higher standards.

On the first point, the notion that economic success is a result of education, let alone the result of scoring well on formulaic tests like the Common Core is without merit. America’s economic dominance was/is not the result of a superior educational system but the fortunate result of the second World War that literally blew apart the industrial bases of major economies in Europe and Asia – leaving America, and to a lesser degree the Soviet Union, the only major economies still intact.

In the aftermath of World War II the United States had roughly 50% of world GDP. This was not the result of superior study but wartime production and all the country’s major competitors being in ruins. This advantage based on the serendipitous fortunes of a global war led to a phenomenal expansion of the American economy largely divorced from any educational supremacy. Not to mention that many of the US innovations were a result of capitalizing on the Post-World War II advantage, and parlaying resources into public investment that led to technologies such as computers, cell phones, the internet, GPS etc. Turning children into “entrepreneurs” as Duncan imagines won’t do much for creating a better economy.

Furthermore, to simplistically reduce economics to some battle of formal education is the height of ignorance. Today China has become the second largest economy in the world. Through education? No. Through the introduction of market economics and allowing transnational corporations to use their population as a low wage and ill-treated labor force. They don’t hit the books, they hit non-compliant workers.

On the second point, which is perhaps more essential, Duncan is just flat out wrong. There is not even an argument. The facts do not in any way support his view. “Grading teachers” does not lead to better educational outcomes. There is no correlation, at all.

So where does the unsubstantiated nonsense Duncan spews come from?

There is a national well-coordinated campaign funded by Neoliberal billionaires and organized by conservative operatives who both want to distract from economic inequality and vilify public sector unions in hopes of turning an ever-growing amount of American life over to market forces. It is not about facts, or children, but spreading market fundamentalism into the public sector. It is essentially deregulating public education. And, much like deregulation of finance, there are a whole host of people who stand to benefit when public education is deregulated.

Like those who let Wall Street off the leash in the ’80s and ’90s, the corporate “ed reformers” are hoping no one will remember why the rules for public education were created to begin with.

CommunityThe Bullpen

Arne Duncan Doubles Down On “White Suburban Moms” Comment, Promotes Economic Ignorance

{!hitembed ID=”hitembed_1″ width=”500″ height=”300″ align=”none” !}

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan doubled down on his “white suburban moms” comment concerning the Common Core Standards. Duncan at first said opposition to the Common Core State Standards was interesting because “white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were, and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were.”

It is the kind of condescending attitude one expects from education privatizers. But when confronted with such an amazingly arrogant statement Secretary Duncan only apologized for the “clumsy” phrasing, not the sentiment. Then he went on a long diatribe about economics and education that made it clear Duncan had not been properly educated on the subject.

[American children] are competing for jobs in India, China, Singapore, South Korea – that’s the competition we all need to come together and help our students be successful there. And the best way to do that is to grade teachers.

Fail. Actually two failures. First, that’s not how economics works. Second, there is no evidence “grading teachers” leads to higher standards.

On the first point, the notion that economic success is a result of education, let alone the result of scoring well on formulaic tests like the Common Core is without merit. America’s economic dominance was/is not the result of a superior educational system but the fortunate result of the second World War that literally blew apart the industrial bases of major economies in Europe and Asia – leaving America, and to a lesser degree the Soviet Union, the only major economies still intact.

In the aftermath of World War II the United States had roughly 50% of world GDP. This was not the result of superior study but wartime production and all the country’s major competitors being in ruins. This advantage based on the serendipitous fortunes of a global war led to a phenomenal expansion of the American economy largely divorced from any educational supremacy. Not to mention that many of the US innovations were a result of capitalizing on the Post-World War II advantage, and parlaying resources into public investment that led to technologies such as computers, cell phones, the internet, GPS etc. Turning children into “entrepreneurs” as Duncan imagines won’t do much for creating a better economy.

Furthermore, to simplistically reduce economics to some battle of formal education is the height of ignorance. Today China has become the second largest economy in the world. Through education? No. Through the introduction of market economics and allowing transnational corporations to use their population as a low wage and ill-treated labor force. They don’t hit the books, they hit non-compliant workers.

On the second point, which is perhaps more essential, Duncan is just flat out wrong. There is not even an argument. The facts do not in any way support his view. “Grading teachers” does not lead to better educational outcomes. There is no correlation, at all.

So where does the unsubstantiated nonsense Duncan spews come from?

There is a national well-coordinated campaign funded by Neoliberal billionaires and organized by conservative operatives who both want to distract from economic inequality and vilify public sector unions in hopes of turning an ever-growing amount of American life over to market forces. It is not about facts, or children, but spreading market fundamentalism into the public sector. It is essentially deregulating public education. And, much like deregulation of finance, there are a whole host of people who stand to benefit when public education is deregulated.

Like those who let Wall Street off the leash in the ’80s and ’90s, the corporate “ed reformers” are hoping no one will remember why the rules for public education were created to begin with.

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Dan Wright

Dan Wright

Daniel Wright is a longtime blogger and currently writes for Shadowproof. He lives in New Jersey, by choice.