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The Chicago Tribune and New York Times have reported that President-Elect Barack Obama will announce on Tuesday that CEO of Chicago Public Schools Arne Duncan is his pick for Secretary of Education. Based on the comments and poll results of DKos posts on Duncan here and here, I realize that many dKos readers feel they don't know enough about Arne Duncan to form a strong opinion. Who is Arne Duncan and what has he done in Chicago?

Arne Duncan grew up in the Hyde Park section of Chicago. He went to school at The University of Chicago Laboratory Schools (where Sasha and Malia Obama will attend until they move to D.C.). His father was a psychology professor at U Chicago and his mother runs the Sue Duncan Children's Center, where, according to Wikipedia , Duncan hung out and honed his basketball skills. Duncan graduated from Harvard with a degree in sociology.

After four years of playing pro basketball in Australia, Duncan returned to Chicago and became Director of the Ariel Education Initiative(AEI). AEI is an initiative run by
Ariel Investments, whose slogan is "Slow and Steady Wins the Race". According to their "About Ariel" website page,

By concentrating on the long-term, our patient approach allows us to take advantage of buying opportunities that frequently arise from Wall Street’s excessive focus on the short term.  We invest in quality companies in industries where we have proven expertise.  And we only buy when these quality businesses are selling at an excellent value.

They must be quite busy right now.

Ariel Education Initiative grew from Ariel Investment's goal toward "strengthening the neighborhoods and cities in which we live and work, practicing a hands-on model of corporate responsibility." The jewel in AEI's crown is the Ariel Community Academy, which is

a small Chicago Public School based on a student-family-school-community partnership. The Academy model is rooted in the understanding that family and community are vital ingredients in the social, physical, emotional and educational well being of children.

From the Principal's Message one can see that the school has a progressive, process-oriented approach, in stark contrast to Chicago Public School's focus on test scores. I'd like to name the principal here, but I cannot find her name on the school's website, just her picture. Here is her Philosophy of Education:

Our philosophy is congruent with the Experimentalist philosophy which views change as an ever-present process in a student’s learning experience. Experimentalism insists that curriculum is the subject matter of social experience and instruction is a problem solving, project-oriented process. The role of the teacher is to assist and advise the student, actively participating and contributing to their learning in order to expand and discover the society they live in and share experiences together. We believe that a child’s education at Ariel Community Academy should be based on current and up-to-date research that is supported by the best teaching and learning methods.  Therefore, students should be aware of their own multiple intelligences and utilize a wide variety of abilities to demonstrate what they have learned.

Despite AEI's understanding that family and community are key stockholders in children's emotional and educational well being, and despite the educational philosophy of the public school they support, Arne Duncan became sucked into Mayor Richard Daley's vision of public schools and their reform. In 1998 Duncan joined Chicago Public Schools as the Deputy Chief of Staff for CPS's former CEO. By 2001 Mayor Daley had appointed Duncan CEO.

Historically, school boards have been elected to district positions by community members. Increasingly, this democratic power has been usurped by at-large school board positions and mayoral control. When Mayor Daley took control of CPS in 1995 he radically altered the power structure of the schools and school reform, taking power away from community members, parents, teachers, and students. Mayoral control of schools has not proved to bring improvement.

As Joel Rubin, reporter for the L.A. Times writes

But Chicago, the nation’s third-largest school system, can hardly be seen as an advertisement for mayoral control of schools. After a decade with Daley in charge, the Chicago district has failed to distinguish itself from other major urban school districts. Many of its schools remain subpar and, overall, Chicago’s students continue to score poorly on reading and math exams used to compare big-city districts.

"It is hard to argue that we’re worse off than we were a decade ago, but we’re not dramatically better off either," said education consultant Alexander Russo, who has written extensively about school reform in Chicago. "If mayoral control was the best thing since sliced bread, after 10 years you would expect Chicago to have risen to the top. It is far from a magic bullet."

Tuesday Barack Obama will make his announcement with Arne Duncan at Dodge Renaissance Academy. Dodge was the one of the first school to change to a private charter school under CPS's Renaissance 2010 program. From the Chicago Public Schools website,

In June 2004, Mayor Richard Daley launched Renaissance 2010, a bold initiative whose goal is to increase the number of high quality educational options in communities across Chicago by 2010. New schools are created through a competitive, community-based selection process which establishes a set of high standards to which every new school will be held accountable. In 2005, Chicago Public Schools opened the first "cohort" of Renaissance 2010 schools.

The goal of R2010 is to close down "failing" schools, send the kids somewhere else, and reinvent the closed schools as privatized charter schools. The thought that this allows parents the choice to send their kids to successful schools has not been brought to reality as parents are scared to let their children travel across town through unfamiliar and often violent, unsafe neighborhoods. During Duncan's tenure he has closed many schools, with little to no support for the closed or receiving schools. Gangs from the closed schools get splintered and go into schools with rival gang members, creating an unacceptable level of violence and death of Chicago Public Schools students.

George Schmidt, founder of the blog Substance, wrote a commentary  on crime and violence in Chicago Public Schools

"More than two years ago, as I've testified to before the City Council Education Committee, the Chicago Teachers Union predicted the increase in violence and gang problems that would result from the closing of high schools (at that time, Austin and Calumet; since, Englewood and Collins). On June 12, 2004, at 10:00 a.m. (Calumet) and 2:00 p.m. (Austin), I testified on behalf of the Chicago Teachers Union, where I was at the time director of school security and safety. We warned that the closing of Austin and Calumet would result in increased violence at the receiving schools. The same warning could have been issued in 2005, when Englewood was closed, and in 2006, when Collins was closed. Instead, the media generally hailed the closings as necessary "toughness" because the schools were slandered as "failing."

"This school year, the problems of violence are worse and earlier than in the past three years. In many cases, they are the direct result of the disruption of the city's poorest communities by school closings under "Renaissance 2010." The additional pressures on west side elementary schools caused by the closings of Frasier and Morse elementary schools is added to the community pressure caused by the closing of Collins High School. On the south side, the pressures caused by the Calumet and Englewood closings continue to hammer schools as far east as Hyde Park and as far west (now) as Bogan.

"Problems are festering or growing at every general high school on the west and south sides right now. And the cause of the increase in those problems, this year and for the last three school years, has been the school closing and "Renaissance" policies of CPS.

But have Arne Duncan and Mayor Daley pulled up Chicago's test scores? Julie Woestehoff of PURE and Monty Neill of FairTest authored the extensive "Chicago School Reform: Lessons for the Nation" study that contrasts the success of Chicago schoools governed by parent-majority local school councils with the lack of sucess of "reform" schools.

Research on the 1990-2005 period of school reform in Chicago clearly demonstrates that teaching to the test has not produced greater learning, and more generally, that the CPS test-centered policies of the Vallas era did not work.

On the positive side, Arne Duncan was an original signer of A Broader, Bolder Approach to Education. As I've blogged about before, I'm a member of BBA.

A Bolder, Broader Approach has also been busy recently, advancing its campaign by sending emails to 860+ signers of its statement. BBA's conviction is

that schools alone cannot close the achievement gap, but that school improvement must be complemented by improvements in the social and economic conditions from which children come to school -- specifically by high-quality early childhood programs, provision of comprehensive routine and preventive health care, and high-quality after school and summer programs.

This, of course, is a direct response to those in organizations (such as Teach for America) who believe that high teacher quality is the only factor necessary to get those test scores up. These groups work against teacher unions and bash many older,established teachers as being uncaring and mediocre.

BBA is now forming an advisory board and committees to help direct each of it's goals: Outreach and Recruitment (e.g., new BBA signers); Health (including school clinics); Early Childhood; School Improvement; After-School and Summer Programs; and Comprehensive and Coordinated Services.

Additionally, BBA will

sponsor a series of forums on Capitol Hill, as well as, where possible, state capitals, on various aspects of the broader bolder approach. At these forums, signers of the BBA will describe more specifically the statement's principles. We plan initially to sponsor sessions on the importance of health care for achievement, on what is known about the impact of early childhood programs, on what is known about the impact of after school and summer programs, and on how accountability policies can be sufficiently comprehensive to ensure that a broader, bolder approach can be carried out.

Our Web site ( will be further expanded, and become, we expect, the definitive resource for state and federal policymakers for research on, and solid evidence for, this broader, bolder approach.

We will sponsor a series of demonstration projects, in half a dozen cities nationwide, where school improvement, early childhood programs, adequate health care, and after school and summer programs will be coordinated to produce real outcome gains for disadvantaged children.

Please check out their website for updates!

So the question becomes, will Arne Duncan (separated from Mayor Daley and Daley's school reform agenda) lean toward the Broader, Bolder Approach and the educational philosophy of the Ariel Community Academy when he heads of the U.S. Department of Education, or will he continue the pro-privitazation/pro-high stakes testing/pro-edubiz agenda of Mayor Daley?

Originally posted to jenbie44 on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 08:11 AM PST.


Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education?

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10%13 votes
13%16 votes

| 122 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

    •  I'm actually interested in what your opinion (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      is. You are obviously very familiar with both the topic and the subject. What do you think?

      Live music is better, bumper stickers should be issued! Neil Young - Union Man

      by blueyescryinintherain on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 08:22:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I guess I'm waffling between (7+ / 0-)

        Horrible Choice (since he had the ear of my personal pick for Secty of Ed, Linda Darling-Hammond, and he didn't go more progressive) and Let's Wait and See. I am caustiously, perhaps naively, optimistic that moving away from Chicago will open him up to more progressive ideas for reform and bring him back to his roots and his original reason for working with children.

        •  I hope you're cautious optimism is warranted. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          PsychoSavannah, JellyBearDemMom

          This appointment, IMO, is one of the most important that Obama will make. Thanks.

          Live music is better, bumper stickers should be issued! Neil Young - Union Man

          by blueyescryinintherain on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 08:35:05 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  IMHO it is THE most important pick he will make (2+ / 0-)

            because education has the power to shape long-term the citizenry and democracy of our country.

            •  it seems impractical that (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Steve Love, gresley

              the mass closing of schools as was done in Chicago coudl be implemented nationwiude so IMO it looks like a broad approach would be mor3e favored.

              From a practical standpoint you have to ensure that public schools are of high quality because most children will attend them, no matter how many other choices are available.

              I know NOTHING about this subject but from a practical standpoint it just seems obvious that improvement of the public school system is the order of the day - Obama has stated that more times than I can enumerate. So I have every reason to believe that that will take predominance in any education agenda.

              Personally, however, I would also like to see parent have some additional options IF they want to send their child to a different school. NOT because the local school sucks but because perhaps the other school has a certain focus such as ARTS or Science or whatever.

              I dont see these being mutually exclusive as many people try to make it out to be. We can have excellent public school AND school choice.

              •  Yes, I switched my daughter from a (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                chicago jeff, mdmslle, gresley

                local school with an excellent dual language program (she had to both pass a test and get in through a lottery) to an interdistrict magnet school focusing on the was a hard decision (I agonized) but in the end I switched her (and left my son) because I thought the arts school would be better for her, that individual child.

                I was so lucky I had the choice.  Both schools are public son is in town and my daughter is bussed into another town.

                You raise a very good point.

                Lisa in CT, RIP Silver, Midnight, Jinx, Bailey, Princess, and Sparkey. Our pets who died Oct. 11th in our devastating house fire. We will miss you always.

                by JellyBearDemMom on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 09:28:00 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  And the key is that both are public schools. (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  elie, gresley

                  Texas has experimented with charter schools and they have proven best at only one thing, taking public money and failing to be good stewards of it!  Public money does not corrupt the teaching process, THEREFORE, the effort must be in reforms WITHIN the public system.  
                    Hollowing out the public school system in order to gain some short term boost in test scores is NOT a plan for American academic excellence, in my opinion.  In Texas, the fight for charter schools (coupled with the home school movement) has been an ill-disquised effort to appease the religious right and their cockamamie creationist science, but more broadly, to delegitimize the NEA, teacher's unions and teaching as a profession.

                  ...Former candidate for Congress.

                  by Steve Love on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 10:14:45 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  This is why I thought ppl should look at Hartford (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    at Hartford CT.  The superintendent is trying to implement choice and equity (even down to per-student budgeting) within the public school structure, mostly (but not exclusively) public schools.  He is in his second year here and while its too early to tell, I like him so far.  I hope he can continue to shake things up for the better.  We live outside of Hartford but my daughter is one of his students via an interdistrict magnet, so we watch Hartford closely.  Many of us in the suburbs do as our schools go down the tubes too.

                    As a State, CT has the dubious distinction of having the largest bleeping achievement gap.  Yay us :(.

                    Lisa in CT, RIP Silver, Midnight, Jinx, Bailey, Princess, and Sparkey. Our pets who died Oct. 11th in our devastating house fire. We will miss you always.

                    by JellyBearDemMom on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 10:21:55 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

        •  Please let it be so... (0+ / 0-)

          and I agree with much of your comments above.  I have much respect for Obama's mind and how he seems to get things done.  I guess I'll just try and have faith and be watchful.

          Lisa in CT, RIP Silver, Midnight, Jinx, Bailey, Princess, and Sparkey. Our pets who died Oct. 11th in our devastating house fire. We will miss you always.

          by JellyBearDemMom on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 09:25:05 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I have never lived in Chicago but (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          elie, gresley, JellyBearDemMom

          from what I have observed the Daley's, father and son, are hardly the "why don't you just do your thing" kind of guys.  They are definitely control freaks.  And maybe, as you suggest, that once out from under the iron fist of Daley, Duncan can return to his roots.  
            Obama has selected him. Obama knows Chicago. I cannot imagine him selecting someone FOR ANY CABINET POST, who would be taking orders from Mayor Daley.  That would be so out of character for him, as I perceive him!  

          ...Former candidate for Congress.

          by Steve Love on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 10:00:01 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Horrible pick (4+ / 0-)

    lived in Chicago and moved to the suburbs because of CPS.   Duncan always seem like the definition of the Peter Principle.

    Would have loved to see Vallas get the nod instead of Duncan.

  •  continuing the tradition ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TexMex, gresley

    of not honoring the value of advanced degrees.  Sad.

    I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper. - President Elect Barack Obama

    by ThirstyGator on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 08:22:00 AM PST

  •  boring place holder (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JellyBearDemMom, jenbie44

    If he is the case. Jeez could have picked someone with a few interesting ideas. Sitting on our heels and spouting the same old same old will not make much change.

    The last quotation makes me believe Obama might be trying to build up the support systems and infrastructure around the students? That's all fine and good as they are in desperate need. I just hope they don't lose sight that the education part of educational system are what matter above all else, and that is what is need of the more drastic changes. This pick does not show me that is a priority.

    We have a 20th education model and the status quo is what makes us comfortable. Real change might be uncomfortable and be different from "when we were in school".

  •  What happened to (4+ / 0-)

    Experimentalism insists that curriculum is the subject matter of social experience and instruction is a problem solving, project-oriented process. The role of the teacher is to assist and advise the student, actively participating and contributing to their learning in order to expand and discover the society they live in and share experiences together

    Teachers teaching? Assist and advise the student? How's that work? How about teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic? or is that not what is important about education? Teach children how to think, not what to think.

    "The most virtuous hearts have a touch of hell's own fire in them" Tennyson

    by Void Indigo on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 08:32:42 AM PST

    •  I actually like this idea if... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JellyBearDemMom, cranquette, jenbie44

      it was implemented correctly. Students get more out of doing something themselves and actively learning. That is they will actually understand and retain it for more than 30 seconds. The best teacher is a facilitator and instigator in the learning. What do you remember more a lecture or a lab class as far as science is concerned. Talking about anatomy or dissecting a frog?

      Current standards often force the teacher to stand in the front of the room and cram the information at the students as quickly as possible, and gives little time for the student to experiment with the concepts on their own.

    •  Those are not antithetical concepts. It is a (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Assist and advise the student? How's that work? How about teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic?

      matter of how we approach the issues.  Reading, writing and math approached as enterprises in rote memory for their own sake is sure to bring resistence from students, however, those elements seen in the context as tools to grasp the meaning of the world around us is another matter.  
        Education is not cracking open a kid's head and pouring stuff in, but rather, creating in the kid's head a vacuum for all kinds of knowledge that will pull him in a career where he can excell.  We call it education instead of compelication because we know that you can educe behavior from people that we can never whip them into.
        Which is what I think you are driving at when you write,Teach children how to think, not what to think.  But you cannot engage a child in WANTING TO THINK until thinking because a means to self-fulfillment not a matter of simply conformity to some social norms.

      ...Former candidate for Congress.

      by Steve Love on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 10:28:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sorry - not too happy with this pick (9+ / 0-)

    As a long time teacher, I don't like charter schools that take funds and resources away from public schools. I'm all for more $$ to encourage college students to become teachers to lower class sizes - the number one way to improve student learning. I'm concerned that too many people feel technology can replace caring, challenging instruction. I really dislike merit pay schemes: who decides which teachers teach better?  what are the criteria? are all classes to be considered equal?  if so - I want the AP Biology class not the 7th grade general science kids. What about mainstreamed special needs students?  I've had a class of 35, 12 of whom were special needs - with no assistance. When my colleague down the hall couldn't handle 5 students in his class - they were placed in mine. He then had only 25 students and I had 35 - but we were paid the same and the principal thought his class was managed better....that's the kind of crap that will go on in schools all over the country when merit pay and bonus perks kick in and the NEA and AFT are neutered.

    "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." - JFK

    by moose67 on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 08:43:18 AM PST

  •  Lived 35 years in Chicago suburbs (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gresley, JellyBearDemMom

    50s, 60s, and 70s.  Our best friend was a CPS teacher for 30 years in social studies at the HS level.  Her tales of horror and woe would cuddle your blood. Doesn't sound like much has changed. How much of a reformer he will be is yet to be determined.  Why pick a big school superintendent?  Why not a state head of education instead?      

    Obama would be perfect if he were a Cubs fan.

    by Georgia Liberal on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 08:44:53 AM PST

    •  I dunno, some school superintendents see much (0+ / 0-)

      more of the day-to-day and are in better touch, some state heads of education are better than others (as far as I've seen).

      Lisa in CT, RIP Silver, Midnight, Jinx, Bailey, Princess, and Sparkey. Our pets who died Oct. 11th in our devastating house fire. We will miss you always.

      by JellyBearDemMom on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 09:33:41 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm not sure I know enough about Duncan to judge (3+ / 0-)

    his performance. I think urban public schools are in need of a comprehensive plan for reform and I'm not that bothered by partial privatization, if it leads to tangible results and verifiable improvements in the education system.

    Obama's education policy has always been a concern for me. As much as I like him and trust his judgment, I don't think he had the strongest education plan in the primaries and I still feel like education reform is not his forte. I'm not about to criticize his choices, he hasn't been sworn in yet, so I'll adopt a "wait and see" policy about this appointment. Duncan has to be a vast improvement over the current place holder, right?

    Inauguration Day can't come soon enough.

    by skigrl84 on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 08:58:35 AM PST

    •  When the public school system is privatized, (6+ / 0-)

      all the other schools (that don't get resources)suffer. There will never be enough private foundations to fund every single school, and that's not their plan, anyway. The edu-biz movement works to create a two-tiered system: private schools and partially privatized public schools and all the rest. As some have said (don't have time now to find the source) CPS's attitude is that their system is fine, they just don't have the right (ie, white kids with higher test scores) students in their system yet. So they create Academies to try to lure the "right" students. This privatization does nothing to help the rest of the schools.

      •  precisely (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cassiodorus, gresley, JellyBearDemMom

        that is precisely what is going on.  furthermore, closing a "bad" school and reopening it as a "good" charter immediately raises property values in the neighborhood. real estate speculation was a driving force of chicago's economy this last decade...

        there are many reasons for Daley to lure those "right" students back to the city.

      •  That is my big issue with privatization too... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elie, gresley

        you always wonder about the students left behind.  You are only as strong as your weakest link.  The students who could potentially be left behind need to be educated too.

        The superintendent in my home town has implemented several cache programs which she is always talking up.  My son is in one that was originated prior to her arrival (Dual Language).  I try to continually make the point (as a taxpayer and resident in Town) that your school system is only as good as its regular classrooms.  That's what I judge her is she doing with they typical mainstream rank and file classrooms.  I don't care how much she talks up the special programs.  I am for more equity in education.

        Lisa in CT, RIP Silver, Midnight, Jinx, Bailey, Princess, and Sparkey. Our pets who died Oct. 11th in our devastating house fire. We will miss you always.

        by JellyBearDemMom on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 09:37:27 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  how true! (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gresley, JellyBearDemMom, jenbie44

          "your school system is only as good as its regular classrooms"  this is the downfall of focusing solely on boutique and specialized magnet programs. What are you doing to improve the educational opportunities of the whole community?

          when i worked in chicago public schools, I worked at a fine arts magnet school that had resources coming out of its ears and a digital animation lab.  many other cps schools don't even have art programs and the teacher's are expected to provide the toilet paper.

          congratulations on your digital animation lab, but ultimately your school system is a failure.

          •  exactly (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            elie, JellyBearDemMom

            My son's CPS school has a part-time art teacher because of PTO funding.  Thats it - part time because thats all the money we could raise.  

            As for supplies, I spent about $50 on my son's stuff for the class and I still had to give $40. Which I don't mind, but its just further evidence of the financial disparity that exists.

            Speaking of finances...where did all that extra funding for your CPS school come from?  (BTW, when you write "digital animation lab" that can only mean one school... ;-)

            •  ah... busted! (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              gresley, JellyBearDemMom

              as a fine arts magnet we received extra funding.  i'm not sure how much but i know we had professional development about requirements to incorporate arts into the curriculum or jeopardize our funding.

              that principal is also a master of rounding up private money.  i think some of the money for the lab came from sweet talking walt disney's daughter herself...

              i don't mean to bad talk the school, it provides some incredible opportunities for students (but isn't right for everyone).  I just saw the inequity first hand and it sickens me when disney is held up as an example of why cps is a fabulous urban district when so much of the city has nothing.  other schools seem to be chastised, "why can't you just be more like disney?  They pull it off."

              •  funny, (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                I remember saying to my husband about the principle there, "She seems resourceful."  Guess that's true.  My older son did get accepted there but those open pods would have never worked for him.  

                Well, the inequity of funding is frustrating.  I guess which ever school has the better spokesperson wins.

                I don't know if you still teach in CPS (or anywhere) or not...but thanks for being out there thinking about my (all of our) kids.  

              •  BTW (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                I don't think you said anything bad about the school at all.  It is what it is - the system.

        •   Yeah, it's like nutrition. You don't really (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I don't care how much she talks up the special programs.  I am for more equity in education.

          have to be very creative to get kids to eat carbos or every kind.  It's the beans, salad and protein sources that will determine if they have health bodies and not be obese before they get out of elementary school.

          ...Former candidate for Congress.

          by Steve Love on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 10:39:43 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  asdf (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elie, JellyBearDemMom

        My older son is in a CPS "Gifted" program.  I am beginning to suspect that he is being used as a means of producing higher test scores.

        I was dismayed on his first day to find that his class was pretty much all white.  One black girl, one Indian boy, and one Latino boy.  What?  I was looking forward to the balance of ethnicities that I thought was mandatory in GEAP programs.  

        There are so many neighborhood schools that need attention.  Yet, time and again, the only solution that CPS seems to come up with is to close schools or add "gifted" programs.  Another northside-predominantly white neighborhood school just got a new gifted program this year. How many of these do we need?  

        I totally agree with you that CPS is just trying to find the "right" students for their system.  

      •  I see what you mean, (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elie, gresley, JellyBearDemMom

        but Duncan won't just be in charge of urban public schools, he'll be in charge of the entire system. I don't think he can apply the charter school model to every district in America, so my hope is that he's a bit more innovative than his tenure at CPS would lead you to believe.

        Inauguration Day can't come soon enough.

        by skigrl84 on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 10:18:12 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Hey, I'm just happy to hear... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PsychoSavannah, JellyBearDemMom

    a President say the phrase "valuing intellectual achievement" without my having the knee-jerk reaction to laugh profusely.

  •  i think it is a horrible pick (4+ / 0-)

    i am stunned and beyond disappointed.  renaissance 2010 and the reform situation in chicago is nothing to applaud, let alone implement nationwide...

    but you do bring up an interesting point.  all of the reforms in education in chicago have been Daley's reforms.  I never saw Duncan as leading on anything, he simply did an adequate job of reaching Daley's goals.  unfortunately Daley's goal include privatization, gentrification, and militarization...

    i was heartened to read about his support for the Broader, Bolder Approach. I wonder what his own views actually are on the issues facing education today?  I don't feel like he's ever expressed his thoughts independent of Daley.

    we shall see.  i agree that it certainly could have been worse.

    •  Elie, I'm disappointed too, but not surprised (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elie, JellyBearDemMom

      When I looked at the reality of politics over the last month, I expected the pick to be Duncan. Primarily because the media and conventional wisdom is that Duncan can make both reform camps happy and I knew that would appeal to Obama. I greatly wish we did know what his own views actually are.

  •  What has he done for us (Chicago) lately? (0+ / 0-)

    That is key...maybe he shares an educational vision with Obama but what kind of administrator-leader will he and can he be?

    We are in central CT and one of my children attends a magnet school in Hartford, CT.  I mention this because Hartford is presently trying to do an all-choice system, it has closed down failing schools and is reinventing them but more as public school, schools of choice (there are some charer schools developing but mostly they are public schools, some of which are magnets).  Hartford, due to the Sheff versus O'Neil decision, is mandated to improve racial balance in their largely minority schools (schools fo color) and my daughter attends an interdistrict magnet school which started accepting suburban students three years ago (she started at that time).  It is an interesting system to watch.

    I have always been the strongest proponent of public schools but I also support choice and competition.  I absolutely support a process-oriented approach to improve student learning quite apart from our system's overreliance on "teaching to the test" and standardized test scores.  We need to raise life-long learners, not children who can rotely fill in bubbles.  Come up with a measurement tool that measures what we really want to...the measurement tool should support learning not learning supporting the measurement tool.

    As someone who has lived in cities my whole adult life (San Francisco, Boston, and NY and now right outside of Hartford in a smaller city) I wholeheartedly support holistic support of the children and families in our urban areas.  Schools can do a lot but they can't do it alone and they can't do it without strengthening our families.

    At least Duncan seems to understand the complexities of The City.

    God bless the incoming Secretary whoever he or she turns out to be. They will have a hard job to do.

    What have you done for us lately?  That is what I wonder, vision is wonderful, but can you move us forward along the path?

    Lisa in CT, RIP Silver, Midnight, Jinx, Bailey, Princess, and Sparkey. Our pets who died Oct. 11th in our devastating house fire. We will miss you always.

    by JellyBearDemMom on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 09:23:10 AM PST

  •  Looks like an appointment we might have called (4+ / 0-)

    cronyism in the past under a different administration.

  •  Thanks for the informative diary. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elie, JellyBearDemMom, jenbie44

    Like you, I was pulling for Linda Darling-Hammond.  More power to BBA:  low-income/immigrant students require and deserve so much more than the endless tests, scripted curricula, and get-tough discipline favored by many "reformers"; in fact, these so-called solutions just exacerbate the problems these kids have to contend with!

    Hope is the thing with feathers That perches in the soul . . .

    by cranquette on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 09:39:08 AM PST

  •  Having read all the comments, maybe we should (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elie, Steve Love, jenbie44

    speculate on how we hold them both accountable??

    No mere resting on campaign promises allowed here...

    Lisa in CT, RIP Silver, Midnight, Jinx, Bailey, Princess, and Sparkey. Our pets who died Oct. 11th in our devastating house fire. We will miss you always.

    by JellyBearDemMom on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 09:39:26 AM PST

    •  Great comment, JellyBear (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elie, JellyBearDemMom

      We need a community that will brainstorm how to hold them accountable and that can work with the administration on democratic reform.

      •  Exactly, pardon the cheesy expression (0+ / 0-)

        but it really does take a village, let us be the village that moves us ahead.  I'm on board (to mix the imagery).  Educaton reform can happen locally and on a state-wide basis too as well as us influencing federal policy.

        Lisa in CT, RIP Silver, Midnight, Jinx, Bailey, Princess, and Sparkey. Our pets who died Oct. 11th in our devastating house fire. We will miss you always.

        by JellyBearDemMom on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 09:46:55 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  It seems like there is (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassiodorus, JellyBearDemMom

    reason for cautious optimism if Duncan returns to his philosophical roots, but possibly the best thing about his appointment is that Barack didn't snag another sitting Democrat from the legislature for this post! ;-)

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