Arne Duncan: Just Stop It

It’s a hollow fantasy, but one I was clinging to like a victim of relentless identity theft.

Arne Duncan leaves the U.S. Department of Education and his role as Secretary of Education, joining instead a celebrity basketball league that keeps him too busy to hold forth anymore on education.

An alternate fantasy envisions Duncan sitting daily in his home, calming staring at himself in the mirror while listening to one of his speeches on a loop.

Instead, there is reality: An open letter to America’s college presidents and education school deans: Arne Duncan.

So I am compelled to offer this plea in the psuedo-sport lingo that may appeal to this career-long political appointee: Arne Duncan, just stop it.

Political bromides and jumping on the embarrassingly inept NCTQ bandwagon in order to build a middle-school argument about the grades students receive as education majors—this is the sort of nonsense that has fueled my fantasies that Duncan would simply slip off into the celebrity basketball sunset.

Since that isn’t the case, and Duncan, like Jeb! Bush, has found the I-know-nothing-about-education-but-use-it-in-my-political-career train to remain lucrative, I am willing to make a deal here.

Arne, you have never taught, have never been a teacher educator, have no formal degree in education, and have never conducted or written education scholarship; therefore, since your entire education background is built on political appointments and Ivey-league connections, I respectfully beg you to just stop it. Enough is enough.

As a consequence, since I have no experience as a narcissist, a political appointee, a celebrity basketball player, or the demonstrably worse SOE than either Rod Paige or Margaret Spellings (and that is saying something), I will not hold forth myself on any of your areas of expertise.


I somehow doubt it because privilege has its privileges.

The Duncan phenomenon suffers from the same sort of white man privilege/delusion confronted by Deborah Lipstadt, who is being portrayed in film for standing up to Holocaust deniers:

She said she hopes the movie also demonstrates the difference between facts, opinions and lies.

“If you take a lie and say it very strongly and say lots of us believe the earth is flat. Doesn’t make it true. It’s still a lie.”

Duncan needs to just stop it because his lies are lies no matter how often he repeats them.

So my new fantasy is Duncan sitting daily in his home, calming staring at himself in the mirror while listening not to one of his speeches on a loop, but to an audio book version of The Phenomenon of Obama and the Agenda for Education – 2nd Edition: Can Hope (Still) Audaciously Trump Neoliberalism?

Maybe, just maybe, if Duncan is quiet, and listens to others who have real expertise, he may learn something.

Well, having a dream is better than nothing.

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