The Fundamental Dishonesty of Arne Duncan

Why won't the Department of Education stand up for D.C. school vouchers?

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan argues that we have an obligation to disregard politics to do whatever is "good for the kids."

Well then, one wonders, why did his Department of Education bury a politically inconvenient study regarding education reform? And why, now that the evidence is public, does the administration continue to ignore it and allow reform to be killed?

When Congress effectively shut down the Washington, D.C., voucher program last month, snatching $7,500 Opportunity Scholarship vouchers from disadvantaged kids, it failed to conduct substantive debate (as is rapidly becoming tradition).

Then The Wall Street Journal's editorial board reported that the Department of Education had buried a study that illustrated unquestionable and pervasive improvement among kids who won vouchers, compared with the kids who didn't. The Department of Education not only disregarded the report but also issued a gag order on any discussion about it.

Is this what Duncan meant by following the evidence?

When I had the chance to ask Duncan—at a meeting of The Denver Post's editorial board Tuesday—whether he was alerted to this study before Congress eradicated the D.C. program, he offered an unequivocal "no." He then called the Journal editorial "fundamentally dishonest" and maintained that no one had even tried to contact him—despite the newspaper's contention that it did, repeatedly.

When I called The Wall Street Journal, I discovered a different—that is, meticulously sourced and exceedingly convincing—story, including documented e-mail conversations between the author and higher-ups at his office.

The voucher study, which showed progress compounding yearly, had been around since November, and its existence is mandated by law. So at best, Duncan was willfully ignorant.

But the most "fundamentally dishonest" aspect of the affair was Duncan's feeble argument against the program.

First, he strongly intimated that because only 1 percent of children were able to "escape" (and boy, that's some admission) from D.C. public schools through this program, it was not worth saving.

So, you may ask, why not allow the 1 percent to turn into 2 percent or 10 percent instead of scrapping the program? After all, only moments later, Duncan claimed that there was no magic reform bullet and that it would take a multitude of innovations to fix education.

Then Duncan, after trashing the scholarship program and study, emphasized that he was opposed to "pulling kids out of a program" in which they were "learning." Jeez. If they're learning in this program, why kill it? And if the program was insignificant, as Duncan claimed, why keep these kids in it? Are these students worse off? Or are they just inconveniencing the rich kids?

Duncan can't be honest, of course. Not when it's about politics and payback to unions who are about as interested in reforming education as teenagers are in calculus.

Politicians say a lot of things, but to glean any insight, we need only examine the decisions they make in their own lives.

President Barack Obama sent his children to a private school in Chicago rather than entrust their education to then-CEO of the Chicago Public Schools, Arne Duncan. He's not alone.

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  • Anonymous||

    All this, and no tax fraud?

    Is this a first?

  • ||

    What? Hypocrisy from an apparatchik? Stop the presses!

    -jcr

  • jtuf||

    In a home schooling environment, kin selection ensures that the children receive an excellent education. Otherwise, it's a chalkboard jungle.

  • Paul||

    Secretary of Education Arne Duncan argues that we have an obligation to disregard politics to do whatever is "good for the kids."



    Excellent. I take it he's strapping dynamite to the Teacher's Unions as we speak?

  • Grammar Police||

    Our SWAT team will shoot your dog for this headline.

  • ||

    Won't somebody think of the children?

    This would make a good base for advocating change for the children. I know there is a lot to slog through as Luddites barricade the status barriers, takin' kids out kills the public conformity, that is under performing, .....it would take a multitude of innovations to fix education.[strike-the current system]

    oh, to learn code, innernets, teach me how. I will be back.

  • ||

    What? Hypocrisy from an apparatchik? Stop the presses!



    I'm amazed that people are still fawning over this administration like they are all angels descended from on high.

  • ||

    Great article.

  • Cap\'n NoStar||

    Send Lisa Snell to debate this bureaucrap.

    (Hmmm? Was that an unintentional typo, a freudian slip, or the product of a public edumacation?)

  • Bingo||

    Who's the twat in the school desk?

    Wait is that seriously the Secretary of Education?

  • ||

    seriously. that is one superb article.

  • jester||

    My brother teaches within the system (i.e. NEA union member) and swears off school vouchers. Sadly, he feels threatened by vouchers despite the fact that he is one of his school's best educators. He is certainly mildly libertarian. It is sad to see that the NEA wields so much power as to scareeven my brother into coalescing into an anti voucher stance.

    Interestingly, my sister, a rare modern nine-children mom, homeschools her entire lot, much to the consternation of my brother.

    The voucher debate rages even within seemingly pro-choice families. Do not underestimate the power of the NEA. Its evilness presses even the excellent educator into thinking his job is lost should vouchers come to fruition.

    That's the nuts-n-bolts of it.

  • Unangelic Dissenter||

    I'm amazed that people are still fawning over this administration like they are all angels descended from on high.



    That's what you get for demonizing the last administration; you give people a hate cult built around a Satan figure they can scapegoat for everything that goes wrong, they inevitably find themselves an idolatrous Messiah to oppose him. The Germans hated Hitler's predecessors too.

  • Rimfax||

    That's what you get for demonizing the last administration

    Didn't they really demonize themselves? I'm no Kerry or Gore lover, but Bush, Cheney, et al, did everything short of wearing goat horns and leggings while chanting and drinking blood.

    I blame the last administration far more for Obama's personality cult than I do Obama or any of his acolytes.

  • Anonymous||

    That's what you get for demonizing the last administration

    Didn't they really demonize themselves? I'm no Kerry or Gore lover, but Bush, Cheney, et al, did everything short of wearing goat horns and leggings while chanting and drinking blood.



    Ok, already. We get Unangelic Dissenter's point. Stop piling on.

  • ||

    The point that is missed is that if the poor ever got a reasonably good education, they might figure out that most of what the Liberal Establishment does "for" the poor is to their disadvantage, and that the Liberal Establishment are a slimy mass of lying swine.

    Obviously that would be Just Awful; they might stop voting Democrat!

  • Elemenope||

    The Germans hated Hitler's predecessors too.

    I'd be curious; if one were to compare all Obama threads with all Bush threads, which ones get Godwinned more quickly, on average? I know with Obama we're working with a small sample size, but maybe enough for a trend indicator?

  • Barry Loberfeld||

    Education and the First Amendment





    On September 25 of last year, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed
    to decide the case of Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, the gravamen of
    which is the First Amendent status of school vouchers
    (specifically, those provided to Cleveland residents in 1995). As
    would be expected, both pro- and anti-voucher forces are girding
    themselves for rhetorical combat. One of the forward divisions of
    the latter is

    Americans United for Separation of Church and State

    (http://au.org),
    which devoted the November 2001 issue of its flagship
    publication, Church & State, to the topic. As one who also
    harbors an antipathy towards vouchers, I was surprised by what I
    encountered in these pages: a demonstration of the law of
    unintended consequences in the field of ideological advocacy. For
    while the arguments purport only to refute the case for vouchers,
    they in fact prove a far wider point.

    READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE



  • Rimfax||

    Ok, already. We get Unangelic Dissenter's point. Stop piling on.

    Gosh, sorry for being all symbolic and shit. How about:

    - threw out habeas corpus
    - reversed 30 years of Freedom of Information
    - got federal funding for churches for Faith Based Initiatives
    - increased the non-defense budget at record rates
    - ballooned federal borrowing at record rates
    - increased defense spending with "emergency" bills at record rates

    That's just off the top of my head. How many amendments to the Constitution did they not shit on? In what ways did they not completely fuck the financial pooch far exceeding any bleeding heart liberal administration with the possible exception of FDR himself? How on earth can you demonize these bozos worse than what they've laid down in the public record?

  • ed||

    my sister, a rare modern nine-children mom, homeschools her entire lot

    "Lot"? That's more like a litter.

  • Unangelic Dissenter||

    - threw out habeas corpus



    When? Where? Kindly note that no matter what a bunch of treasonous activist judges say, what we call habeus corpus does not apply to non-citizens, especially enemy combatants in a war. The Constitution is not a suicide pact. Therefore, this accusation is a blatant lie and you're demonizing Bush by repeating it.

    - reversed 30 years of Freedom of Information



    When? Where? I notice you keep sticking to these vague accusations without coming up with any practical examples. What part of FOI did Bush "reverse" and how exactly did he "reverse" it? If you can't give any specifics, or if your specifics are lies, then that's demonization as well.

    - got federal funding for churches for Faith Based Initiatives



    And it's EVIL to fund churches! It's EVIL to fund charity! We should put the money into ACORN, Planned [Non]Parenthood, the National Endowment for the [Pornographic] Arts, and SCIENCE Based Initiatives, such as The Apocalyptic Vision of Al Gore! We've got to slaughter as many poor people as we can to save the world from burning up! How DARE Bush put some dough into trying to help the poor and the needy! Doesn't he know they'll just multiply like rats? Abort thy neighbor!

    Of course, maybe it'd be nice not to spend federal funds on anybody's pet programs, but I notice you "Libertarians" are awfully selective about what you decide is particularly bad to fund. When you go selectively bashing Bush for the particular programs he funded (out of good intentions, however misguided) over other things many another politician has funded, that's demonization too. Might I also point out that Presidents don't directly "fund" anything? It's Congress that actually writes the spending bills. Neither Bush nor any other President has ever spent a dollar that wasn't given to him to spend.

    - increased the non-defense budget at record rates



    Record rates no more, thanks to his successor; and again, it's Congress that writes the actual spending bills. You "Libertarian" hypocrites sure do a lot of cherry-picking over what's bash-worthy! Cherry-picking things associated with Bush in order to single him out for your hatred is demonization.

    - ballooned federal borrowing at record rates



    Unlike, you know, EVERYBODY who's ever been in office before and since. Yet again, your ignorance of the political process requires me to remind you that CONGRESS, not the President, writes the spending bills.

    I'm also noticing that most of these overblown accusations of yours are financial. I guess Machiavelli was right: people will sooner forgive a guy for running over their grandmothers than for taking their money. Maybe Bush should have gone in for setting up the Grandmother Steamrollering Euthanasia Fund instead?

    Once again, you single out Bush for bashing over matters that aren't entirely under his control in the first place, and some of which he handled better than his predecessors and successor. (Remember his efforts to privatize Social Security?) Blaming a guy for situations that aren't under his control is also demonization.

    - increased defense spending with "emergency" bills at record rates



    So it's not an emergency when the government runs out of money? You and I might agree that it's nice to have a government shutdown every once in a while, but apparently very few of your fellow citizens agree with you. What reward did the Republicans get for holding up a spending bill and shutting down the government back in Clinton's time, hmmm?

    Maybe Bush and the Republicans would actually look better to you self-righteous Libertarian scolds if they were all a little MORE incompetent at spending spending money as fast as possible. Maybe you'd really love them for that. Unfortunately for Bush, and the Republicans, and you, and us all, apparently nobody else rewards or encourages such incompetence.

    These people praise responsible finance with their lips (and their opinion polls) right along with you, but as they repeatedly demonstrate with their actions (voting out Liddy Dole this past election though she voted against TARP, for example), their hearts are far from it. That's why they just voted in another guy who promised them the moon at a steep discount, carefully concealing the real costs.

    Meanwhile, you go right along with them in bashing Bush even after he's out of office, acting as if it's somehow all his fault that a huge proportion of your fellow citizens are wastrels, gluttons, and parasites, and as if every big spender up there doesn't represent exactly what they've been demanding all along. Bashing Bush for doing what his constituents tell him to do is also demonization.

    Frankly, if you really gave a damn about all these high-minded financial ideals you profess to hold, I don't think you would be here repeating all these addle-pated fibs, distortions, exaggerations, and outright lies against Bush, especially now that he's three months out of office. That you persist in this tells me that you're far more eager to seek out some evil to hate than you are to pursue the good of financial thrift and responsibility or any other kind of good. You're hardly in any position to cast aspersions on others for not being a band of libertarian angels headed up by a Constitutional archangel!

    That's just off the top of my head. How many amendments to the Constitution did they not shit on?



    Did "they" throw you in prison or attack you with guns and nightsticks for protesting against "them" in the streets? Did "they" take your guns? Did "they" forbid you to assemble into a well-regulated militia? Have "they" been forcing you to keep soldiers in your house?

    Have you, or any citizen of whom you know, been the subject of unreasonable searches and seizures? Have you been held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger? Have you been twice put in jeopardy? Did "they" take your property for public use without just compensation?

    Have you been denied your to an attorney, to remain silent, to be informed of the charges against you, to face your accusers, to have a trial by jury? Did "they" specifically try to deny you any of these things? Have "they" demanded excessive bail or excessive fines of you? Have they subjected you to particularly cruel and unusual punishments? Have "they" construed certain Constitutional rights deny or disparage certain rights you retain for yourself?

    What rights, specifically did "they" infringe upon, which were reserved to the states or the people? Are you equally infuriated at special interest groups, activist judges, unelected officials, and other forces looking to shred our Constitution, or do you just want to attack Bush?

    In what ways did they not completely fuck the financial pooch far exceeding any bleeding heart liberal administration with the possible exception of FDR himself?



    Did "they" hold a gun to anyone's head to make the recipients accept that bailout package, and refuse to take a refund when the banks decided they didn't want the strings that came attached to it?

    Who are "they" anyway? Is Bush responsible for EVERYTHING "they" did under his administration, even if "they" happened to be working against him (as some of his subordinates definitely were)? What is your point?

    How on earth can you demonize these bozos worse than what they've laid down in the public record?



    Well, we can always lie and exaggerate and ignore all mitigating realities while spewing deceitful talking points the way you're doing, can't we? It's always easier to tell a simple lie than a complex truth, isn't it? Hope you enjoy that revenge for which you traded your liberties, fools! You'll have at least two years and probably four to repent at leisure for the endless lies you told about everything just to attack Bush.

  • Unangelic Dissenter||

    I'd be curious; if one were to compare all Obama threads with all Bush threads, which ones get Godwinned more quickly, on average?



    Hitler too sensitive of a subject? I suppose I could always point out how hated the Tzars were before Stalin stepped in to demonstrate that things can always get worse. I could also point to how things in the Roman Republic were hardly going swimmingly for the leadership or anyone else before Julius Caesar seized control.

    My point is not that anyone we've currently got is like Hitler, but that Hitler didn't have to seize all the power he ultimately accumulated for himself; people gladly handed it over to him because they hated his predecessors and feared for their finances.

    Actually, even if Hitler had never existed, I suspect somebody would have achieved much the same things he did; Joe Goebbels, for one, was certainly at least as good at rabble-rousing as Hitler ever was. Ernst Rohm also inspired fierce loyalty from his minions.

    In any case, we won't be seeing another Hitler; if people keep acting the way they have been, I think we'll finally be able to demonstrate once again that it's always possible to be worse than one's predecessors, however atrocious they may have been.

  • Anonymous||

    I'd be curious; if one were to compare all Obama threads with all Bush threads, which ones get Godwinned more quickly, on average? I know with Obama we're working with a small sample size, but maybe enough for a trend indicator?



    Does it count as invoking Godwin's law if the candidate himself does it? The seal, the speach where Hitler spoke about socialist things, and the greek facade at the convention -- Obama was wagging that dog long before the election. Of course, that and the birth certificate uncooperation was just to distract us from his communist-mentor-laden upbringing.

    But you're right that Mussolini's populism fits better.

  • ||

    Excellent. I take it he's strapping dynamite to the Teacher's Unions as we speak?

    Not to mention the pillars of his own loathsome Department. What a worthless pit of unconstitutional shit the DoEd is.

  • ||

    Bravo UG.

    As I also said months ago, it can always get worse (or better).

    I'd also add that part of the reasons the Republicans got fucked up so badly was they had to deal with legitimately serious issues, with a political and media opposition that had no intentions of ever meeting them halfway, but was perfectly capable of getting everything stuck on them as the people in charge. Even when they weren't in charge (post-2006).

  • ||

    The important point here is being drowned out by 2 people who are arguing about who made Bush look bad. Who cares. It is in the past.

    This article, and the WSJ article it refers to clearly show that the DOE is in the hands of a lying manipulator at the beck and call of the teachers union. So the important question is, other than writing about it, what else can we DO about it?

  • Anonymous||

    what else can we DO about it?


    Abandon the public education system to destroy itself.

  • ||

    I blame the last administration far more for Obama's personality cult than I do Obama or any of his acolytes.

    Guess you're not from Chicago then, he had a cult following since he went down to Springfield, before anyone thought of him at the national level.

  • nike shox||

    is good

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