Thursday, February 23, 2017

Secretary of Education: A Fine Tradition of Dunces

Portrait of Addition By Subtraction 
In Arne Duncan the Obama administration had a useful idiot who'd drive the corporate reform agenda and keep the POTUS sharp on the basketball court. Apparently Arne had played semi-pro, off Broadway basketball in the Tenerife' intramural leagues at some point but settled for handing out test packets to America with the help of his Bachelor's degree in Sociology. Arne for the record had never spent a minute teaching in a classroom anywhere. In November of 2013 Arne put his semi-pro sized Chuck Taylor in his mouth and pissed off the White Suburban Mom  population suggesting that her kid wasn't as smart as she thinks he is. What's more is he was touting Common Core in the process. Here's Arne: saying pushback against CCSS is coming from...“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.”  His actual quote is dizzying in its arrogance and nastiness. I wonder if he thought because he was addressing state school superintendents that nobody would know he said it or was he really so clueless and bereft of judgment that he didn't think it was an objectionable remark? The world will never know but my guess is yes to both queries. Up until then Arne had made the usual amount of gaffes on smaller levels but the "WSM" bombshell as it became known on Facebook was a Waterloo moment in Arne's career as the face of American corporate ed reform. 

Meanwhile, a month before Arne's White Suburban Mom Massacre, we here in the Empire State had our own little Arne, aka Lil John King who was melting down bigly on stage in Spackenkill NY . King and his handlers -- Dowager Empress Tisch and Regentus Flatulentus Bob Bennett -- went there to shut parents and teachers up on the topic of high stakes testing. I'm not always one to click the links and watch the videos but if you click one link today click this one where the little weasel monopolizes the forum and refuses to let anyone else speak then lies about the use of high stakes tests in his own kids' Montessori school. He also declares his own kids off limits for discussion not realizing that sending his own kids to a private school where none of this ridiculous testing occurs might appear hypocritical to parents whose own kids are throwing up and crying from test anxiety. While people in the video clip are telling him to sit down and shut up and that he's already had his turn King drones on mercilessly. 

I'd never lined up the timelines of these two failures and their downward trajectories before but it makes perfect sense that Arne was flaming out in D.C. while King tried to take his standardized tests and go home in a snit. He actually cancelled the rest of his Shut Up and Take the Test Tour or tried to after being thoroughly pantsed by the people he'd been appointed to do right by. But Andrew Cuomo and his corporate ed campaign donors were not hearing it. Lil John was taken out to the woodshed by Tisch and told to get out there and stand up to those bullies. Can't you just hear her saying I aint raising no punks? Remember now this is a guy who once told an audience he'd sooner eat an undercooked steak and quaff a glass of stale wine than tell the waiter he had a problem with his meal. John King wouldn't, as the saying goes say shit if he had a mouthful, yet here he was trying to fight parents and getting his ass whooped in public. Imagine the angst. You can see why he chooses to take his lumps when you what a terrible fighter he is.  

It wasn't long before someone found a youth basketball league for Arne to ref or a sneaker company to shill for and Obama sent him back to Chicago with a nice size 12 Jordan print on his ass. About the same time Andrew Cuomo had supped full of horrors on John King's tragic performance as the head of NYSED and was looking to bundle him up for a draft pick and a box of tape. Remember too that King lacked the teaching experience and the credentials needed for the NYSED gig but friendly pols and hacks ignored the regs and handed him the job qualified no but politically wired yes. Why you may wonder am I wasting a 60 degree morning in February in Buffalo NY rehashing the last two stooges to hold the title Secretary of Education? Fair enough. While we're outraged and disgusted that a dilettante know nothing like Betsy Devos has been allowed to buy a cabinet seat in the #45 cavalcade of 1%ers, I have to ask how different this is than Penny Pritzker of Hyatt Hotel fortune and Chicago pal of Obama being installed as Secretary of Commerce? Her own workers despised her and she treated them like shit. We've seen this game before is my point. And if an unqualified dope is being seated in the Department of Education we can safely say she's just the third stooge in a succession of friends and family hiring to take the seat. 

Betsy's debut as we've seen has been a disaster. She was repelled from the back door of a school by a total of about 3 protestors and has since been armored with US Marshals. Nothing says approachable and in your corner like a US Marshal on either shoulder and that moron Randi Weingarten posing for selfies as she trails along in your wake. Devos, as noted previously, tried a funny on twitter and got flamed by teachers and parents. Then she accused teachers of standing around waiting to be told what to do and was roasted by the very teachers she'd observed when they finally found an unguarded door to slide her in. My friend Burkie in high school knew all the untended doors at the Aud which was handy for sneaking into Van Halen shows and Sabres games. I wonder if Betsy has a guy like that on staff? So the pushback on Betsy Devos in week one has been devastating. She appears flustered and clueless like a lot of what's coming out of the White House. Rumor is she made a feeble attempt to stick up for transgendered kids as #45 rolled back Obama's protections for them. But soon enough she was bullied by the boys and remembered her place as a girl with a checkbook in their big manly world and she caved in. If there's anything I'm finding a little strength and hope in it's this piece by Derek Black that Norm had on his blog a few weeks ago where he offers some calming thoughts: 

The skeptic might say, yeah, but if she wins, she has power and can do what she wants.  Fortunately, that is just not true.  As a reaction to Secretary Duncan's overreach with No Child Left Behind waivers, the Every Student Succeeds Act severely restricted the powers of the Secretary.  As I explain here, the Act shifted an enormous amount of power and discretion back to the states, reducing the Secretary to a paper-pusher.  

Maybe we can thanks Stooge 1 for his over reach and Stooge 2 for going away and leaving New York to fend for itself. If Betsy's little more than a paper pusher for the next 4 years she may just learn something about making bad investments. 


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