PPS student teacher on Duncan in CounterPunch

8:01 am

Portland Public Schools student teacher Kenneth Libby, who contributed to Peter Campbell’s discussion of Arne Duncan here, expands on his thinking for a much greater audience today on Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair’s CounterPunch. Suffice it to say, Libby is not as optimistic about Duncan as Campbell or Chicago schools activist Michael Klonsky (who also took part in the original conversation here).

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Steve Rawley published PPS Equity from 2008 to 2010, when he moved his family out of the district.

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6 Responses

  1. Comment from Ken:

    Note: While I might view Duncan slightly differently than Campbell and Klonsky (both significantly more experienced than myself), I wholeheartedly agree with them on the critical issue: providing the best experience for our children, which has much more to do with teachers, parents, and community members than our secretary of education. Duncan’s appointment does not change anything in the short term – education will be the same on January 20th as it was on January 19th – but we can always expect changes (and influence them) in the medium- and long-run. I wrote my piece mostly to provide background information on education reform as conceived of by current policy makers, and hopefully to promote further discussions on education reform. I welcome any comments or criticism.

  2. Comment from Steve Rawley:

    Thanks Ken; I sure didn’t mean to put you at odds with Klonsky and Campbell.

    I defer to all of you (and other educators) on the actual nuts and bolts of teaching children.

  3. Comment from Peter Campbell:

    I wouldn’t say I was optimistic about Duncan. I’m perplexed as to who he actually is and how he can reconcile the foundational logic of the two statements he signed, one that identifies socioeconomic factors outside the control of schools as the primary source of the achievement gap and the other which says that such factors ultimately don’t matter and that all we need to do to close the gap is attract and retain great teachers. If he really is someone who embodies the latter, then we’re not likely to see any substantive policy come out of the Obama administration. But if he is someone who sees the inextricable link between poverty and achievement in school, then we can be hopeful that policies will be developed that acknowledge and address this link. In my gut, I figure Duncan is a kind of ra-ra TFA/KIPP schools, Edison Schools, Inc. kind of guy that isn’t all that different than Michelle Rhee in D.C. So while not optimistic, I remain delusionally hopeful.


  4. Comment from Terry:

    Congrats, Ken. An impressive piece, so impressive, in fact, that I put it on my “worth reading” list

  5. Comment from Rita Moore:

    I am reserving judgment on Obama’s choice of Arne Duncan, as I am on pretty much all of his announced choices. Although I am no fan of ideologies, I also don’t like to see “pragmatism” fetishized. Too often, pragmatism simply means that the status quo — or maybe the status quo ante, given current circumstances — will be vigorously pursued.

    But it is troubling to me that Obama & Co. have not explicitly stated that the current economic meltdown constitutes a final and definitive verdict on the market fundamentalism that has characterized American politics since the late 1970s (predating Reagan). Personally, I am not particularly concerned that this might hurt the feelings of the last generation of Democratic leaders, though I can understand why Obama might feel compelled to be discrete. Nevertheless, the stakes are too high to mince words.

    There’s a reason why the public good was entrusted to the public sector. The privatization of government that has occurred on a massive scale over the last 20 years has proven itself to be ineffective, inefficient, and inequitable wherever it has occurred.

    So, it is a mystery to me why the anointed “very smart people” continue to believe that purely “market solutions” will be any more successful in the field of education than they have been in, say, the market itself.

    The charter school movement has produced some apparently spectacularly successful schools, but those are relatively few in number. Study after study shows that even using the very narrow, test-based measures favored by the “reformer” types themselves, charter schools overall have not improved student performance. Much to the dismay of the zealots, charter schools are certainly no better than public schools and often are much worse.

    So what’s the allure?

  6. Comment from Peter Campbell:

    Charters like The Met School are the allure. Charters like KIPP and Edison are the really scary ones.