Friday, November 22, 2013

Arne Duncan's War on Women and Children

Just when you thought the Obama administration couldn't antagonize America any further, along comes Education Secretary Arne Duncan. He didn't just attack "white suburban moms" and children over their criticism of the Common Core "standards"/testing/data-mining program. The feds' top educrat also managed to insult every one of the nation's minority families and educators who oppose Fed Ed's threat to academic excellence, local control and student privacy.

On Friday, while defending the beleaguered Common Core program in a meeting with state school superintendents, Duncan unleashed a brazen race and class warfare attack on grassroots foes. As The Washington Post reported, Duncan sneered that he found it "fascinating" that the revolt came 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."

As a brown-skinned suburban mom opposed to Common Core, I can tell you I've personally met moms and dads of all races, ethnicities, backgrounds and parts of the country over the past year who have sacrificed to get their kids into the best schools possible. They are outraged that dumbed-down, untested federal "standards" pose an existential threat to their excellent educational arrangements -- be they public, private, religious or homeschooling.

Duncan's derision exposes the very control-freak impulses that drive Common Core. He condescendingly implies that the only reason "white suburban moms" object to Common Core is that their children are too dumb to score well on tests -- which, by the firsthand accounts of educators from urban New York City schools to rural Kentucky schools to every corner of the country, are a complete and utter mess.

Thousands of moms and dads immediately took to social media to speak truth to bigoted Fed Ed power. The nonpartisan Mothers Against Duncan (MAD) group on Facebook declared: "Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has insulted the Moms of America and our children! This MAD group is intended to be a gathering place where America's Moms can show him that he picked the WRONG group to mess with!"

Patti McKelvey wrote: "I am so angry about the latest comment out of Arne Duncan's mouth. I find it incredibly insulting. I am a clinical laboratory technologist. I have two (master's) degrees. I am a grandmother. He has stirred a real hornet's nest now -- white suburban middle-class women should not be messed with. Nor should parents of any race, creed or religion who care about their (children's) education."

Daphne Scott Yuhas posted: "I ain't white, and it doesn't matter a damn, but I am a Mom, and I am now in angry Mommy Bear mode! Watch out!"

Elle Commanderr, a "white former urban now suburban pissed off mom," directly addressed Duncan: "Education without representation is as egregious as taxation without representation. Our children are not YOUR children nor do we wish to 'assimilate' them to this nonsense in ANY area I know of ... suburban, urban or otherwise."

Michigan homeschool mom Karen Braun, who signed her letter to Duncan "Your boss," ripped the tone-deaf bureaucrat: "Secretary Duncan, you and the feds may control the purse strings, but WE (moms of every color and location) control our 'brilliant' children's shoe strings. We have the final authority, and we're saying no to your 'higher standard' and your high stakes tests... YOU work for US! Get that right, and you and the mothers of America will get along a whole lot better."

Duncan now says his dog-whistle tirade was clumsily worded. But he's used the same talking points before. What's crystal clear is that Duncan and his top-down dictators presume that only technocratic elites in Washington can determine what quality standards and curricula look like. He pretends that minority parents and students in inner-city charter and magnet schools with rigorous locally crafted classical education missions simply don't exist. A textbook liberal racist, Duncan whitewashes all minority parents and educators who oppose Common Core out of the debate.

This is a White House war on uppity women and children of all colors. Duncan's a bigot, a bully, an elitist and a foot-in-mouth fool all rolled into one -- and he continues to enjoy the support of the president. The relentless Beltway attacks on Common Core critics also give lie to the oft-repeated claim that the top-down initiative was "state-led" and grassroots. It should not go unnoticed that the most vocal and defensive advocates of the beleaguered Fed Ed boondoggle are not local teachers or parents, but pale-faced Beltway bureaucrats and their corporate allies.


Village Academic Curriculum: Common Core Curses

In the past five years, this country has seen more government-sanctioned race and class baiting than ever before. These tools have been used to silence opposition to the Obama administration's position on everything from terrorism to taxes. The recent inflammatory statements made by Education Secretary Arne Duncan are just the latest chapter in that political curriculum.

In the face of mounting (and, as it turns out, diversified) opposition to the federal education Common Core program, Duncan remarked, "It's fascinating ... that some of the pushback [against Common Core] is coming from, sort of, white suburban moms who -- all of a sudden -- [realize] their child isn't as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn't quite as good as they thought they were."

Duncan has since been labeled a bigot because his comment was belittling to parents of all races. It was based on several offensive presumptions: first, that the education system's problems are race and class-based; second, that white suburban moms are fine with a subpar education system as long as their children are insulated from it; and third, that race plays a role in a parent's level of sophistication with regards to education. The underlying presumption, of course, is that Big Government must take a larger role in education in order to save the rest of us.

Clearly, Duncan expected his statement to divide and conquer the opposition. Instead, it solidified it. The coalition questioning increased federal control of education through Common Core is made up of people across religious, political, racial and class spectrums. And, as it turns out, people of all ages as well. "I don't like it," one fourth grade girl said of Common Core, "because it seems like they are just teaching us to take the test." How, one wonders, would Duncan seek to discredit her?


Privately-educated British graduates a THIRD more likely to get top jobs: Social mobility tsar in call to 'break open closed shop'

Middle class children are being held back by ‘entrenched elitism’ which means the rich and privately-educated are a third more likely to get top jobs, a government adviser warned today.

Alan Milburn, the social mobility tsar, said it was not just children from poorer families who struggled to ‘move up and get on’.

In the latest high-profile attack on the privileged elite who run Britain, he said it was time to ‘break open the closed shop’ at the top of society.

David Cameron has been stung by criticism of the wealthy background of many in the Cabinet.

Former Tory Prime Minister Sir John Major took a swipe last month, warning the Conservatives cannot win if they fail to understand the ‘silent have-nots’ who suffer in ‘net curtain poverty’.

New research from the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission found that privately-educated graduates are one-third more likely to get top jobs than state school-educated graduates.

In a speech today Mr Miliburn said: ‘A society where opportunities are frozen rather than fluid hurts more than those at the very bottom end.  ‘It hurts the people President Clinton once famously called the “forgotten middle class”.  ‘They, and not just low income families, are the victims of entrenched elitism in our country.’

The former Labour Cabinet minister told social mobility experts that the problem did not affect just people from working class backgrounds, but was also a block on the aspirations of middle class families.

Part of this gap was explained by the fact that top employers continue to recruit from a narrow range of highly selective universities, where those who went to independent schools tend to be over-represented, said the Commission.

But it also found that even where two similarly qualified graduates have attended the same university and got the same degree, a privately-schooled graduate is still 8 per cent more likely to get a top job than a state-schooled one.

Mr Milburn added: ‘Social mobility relies on people across the income spectrum being able to move up and get on.  ‘We have a twin problem in our country:  middle class aspirations and working class opportunities to advance are both being thwarted.’

Commission analysis suggested that some of the career advantage for privately-educated graduates comes from having social connections that state-educated graduates are less likely to enjoy. But it found that most of the gap is unexplained.

Mr Milburn said the expansion of the middle classes would help more people to break through into the top of society.

He said: ‘A twin solution is needed: we need to break open the closed shop at the top of British society and expand the middle.  ‘It should be our country’s ambition to create a bigger middle class with more avenues for advancement. A growing middle-class is the foundation for a more mobile country.’

Mr Milburn outlined a five-point policy agenda, involving expanding early years education; paying the best teachers more for working in disadvantaged areas; opening up universities to a wider pool of talent and making vocational education a national priority; increasing the minimum wage; and expanding entry to the professions by getting firms to recruit from a wider range of universities and ending unpaid internships.


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