Arne Is Aiming for Damage Control But Just Can’t Seem to Get It Right
US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s tasteless remarks on Friday about the seeming inability of “White suburban mothers” to come to terms with their children’s limited intellectual ability as such is highlighted by the Duncan-beloved Common Core State Standards (CCSS) has the former Australian basketball player-gone-US-Sec-of Ed attempting to “close the gap” and re-score some of the numerous lost points with the American public– and especially with American mothers of all races whom he inadvertently insulted.
The only problem is that Duncan is taking his CCSS shovel and digging deeper. Here is his attempt to “make nice,” as recorded in the New Orleans Times-Picayune:
Duncan moved away from those comments in a statement issued Monday: “We have a tendency in our fast-moving world to focus on controversial-sounding sound bites, instead of the complex policy debates that underlie them. Unfortunately, I recently played into that dynamic,” Duncan said. [Emphasis added.]
Translation: “The public should ignore my comments about White suburban mothers and their less-than-brilliant children.”
And what of “focusing on complex policy debates”? The “debate” about CCSS never happened, and now a non-invested (and arguably wounded) public is rejecting it.
But let’s continue with Duncan’s attempt to save himself:
Duncan said his intention Friday was to “encourage a difficult conversation and challenge the underlying assumption that when we talk about the need to improve our nation’s schools, we are talking only about poor minority students in inner cities.” [Emphasis added.]
Sorry, Arne. You clearly blamed CCSS rejection on “White suburban mothers.” Here are Duncan’s original words– not at all connected to a discussion of views that reform only belongs to “inner cities”:
“It’s fascinating to me that some of the pushback is coming from, sort of, 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, and that’s pretty scary,” said Duncan, according to an account in Politico. [Emphasis added.]
But back to Duncan’s attempted cleanup:
“This [that only minorities need improvement] is simply not true,” Duncan said. “Research demonstrates that as a country, every demographic group has room for improvement. Every parent wants the best for their children. Every parent deserves accurate information about how their kids are doing in school. And every community can be doing more to challenge all its students and bring out their individual brilliance.” … [Emphasis added.]
Now parents once again “want the best.” And look: The kids are “brilliant” again!
But just don’t connect “wanting the best” with rejecting CCSS. Arne doesn’t want to hear it:
In his statement Monday, Duncan spoke in personal terms. “As a parent of two children in public school, I know no one enjoys hearing tough news from school, but we need the truth — and we need to act on it. The truth is we should be frustrated that as students, parents and citizens, we’ve been hiding the educational reality, particularly as other countries are rapidly passing us by in preparing their students for today and tomorrow’s economy.
According to Duncan, parental rejection of CCSS is not “acting on the truth.” Rejection of CCSS is akin to “hiding educational reality.”
Now for the “status quo” wrap up:
“However, we should use this passion to say that the status quo is not acceptable and that we want more for all students,” Duncan said.
There you have it folks: No apology. Again with the focus on “the school”– which has nothing to do with parental rejection of CCSS. And a flat-out refusal to acknowledge that parents– any parents– could possibly have valid concerns about CCSS.
It seems that the fact that what he is pushing is now the “status quo” that parents are declaring is “not acceptable” is lost on this US Secretary Who Lacks Professional Background in Education.
He sure does love his CCSS to the point of self-delusion.
Gotta give him that.