The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Posts tagged ‘Arne Duncan’


With the exception of the black community, there have been no more ardent supporters of President Obama in his 2008 and 2012 election campaigns than women.  They have lauded and applauded his “inclusive” policies which they see benefiting members of the female gender.  And the president has, in fact, appointed many women to important posts within his administration – such as HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.  Perhaps Obama should have appointed a woman to head the Department of Education rather than Arne Duncan.

Secretary Duncan grew up in my old neighborhood of Hyde Park in Chicago.  He attended the University of Chicago’s Laboratory School which educated children who were generally rather brilliant but seemed to be socially inept, at least that was the consensus of opinion of those of us who interacted with these kids.  He went on to Harvard where he graduated “magna cum laude” with a degree in sociology.

After returning to Chicago, Secretary Duncan was ultimately appointed CEO of the Chicago Public School System in 2001.  In the nearly eight years he served in that position, until his appointment by his neighbor, Barack Obama, the Chicago School system saw some improvement in testing scores.  That was coupled with the closing of 45 elementary and secondary schools, primarily in the inner city which served a black student population.  That was unprecedented until the recent closure of an additional 50 schools in the city this year.

Perhaps these school closures were determined to be the best course of action based on his Harvard senior year thesis, “The values, aspirations and opportunities of the urban underclass.”  If so, they vary significantly from the findings that fellow Hyde Park resident, Nobel Prize winner Gunnar Myrdal concluded in his 1944 work, “AN AMERICAN DILEMMA: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy.”

During the eight years that Secretary Duncan ran the Chicago School system, several important events occurred.  The first is that the union representing teachers was able to extract a combined salary and benefits increase for their members totaling 42% of their previous compensation.  The second is that rather than requesting that parents and others who were concerned for the welfare of our children in the public school system contribute classroom items like scotch tape and craft paper, the school system asked for contributions of toilet paper to replenish the supplies that had been depleted.

Now that Secretary Duncan is running the Department of Education, one of his main focuses has been to implement the educational curriculum known as “Common Core.”  With the lure of receiving Federal grants by accepting this, forty-five states have agreed to teach this agenda.  The stated objective purpose of Common Core is to improve test scores throughout the country – certainly a goal that seems admirable.

But as parents and some school administrators are finding, there is much which is questionable in the material that will be required to be taught.  For example, one text entitled “World History” has an entire thirty-six page chapter devoted to Islam.  There are no similar chapters on Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Shintoism, Confucianism, Hinduism or any other faith, or for that matter agnosticism or atheism.

Perhaps the selection of this particular text reflects the Secretary’s interest in elevating the “downtrodden” and those minimized by our society.  Or perhaps this curriculum is an acquiescence to the unions as teaching Common Core will allow their membership to avoid personal accountability for the development or the lack of it of their students.

During his tenure in office, we have heard little from Secretary Duncan – which is befitting the head of a bureaucracy that probably should be abolished to help balance the budget.  But the other day, the Secretary gained the public limelight by putting his foot in his mouth (and later apologizing for his statement), by saying that those who object to this initiative are “’White suburban moms’ who oppose the educational reforms known as the Common Core State Standards because the benchmarks reveal that their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were, and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were.”

That statement is both sexist and racist.  If this were the only such sort of comment, one could and probably should easily dismiss it as an unfortunate gaffe.  After all, sexism and racism is the proper venue of fat, middle aged, conservative white men – or at least the liberal left has so concluded.  So coming from someone in the most “transparent administration” ever in office, how could a member of that team offer such a comment?

Well, let’s turn to Colorado for a moment.  An organization which has developed a website that actually works, is feverishly attempting to interest young people in Obamacare through a series of print ads.  Here is one example.


I’m not sure but this sexual objectification of women might even have Betty Friedan turning in her grave.  But there is a glimmer of hope.

Perhaps Secretary Duncan can work together with the website’s creators for the common good.  The website, by the way, is  Apparently, those who created the site missed the Common Core class on English grammar.  Perhaps that’s why this country has been producing so many “Dumb Dudes” and an equal number of “Dumb (although not generally pregnant) Broads.”

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