We Don't Need No Arne Duncan

The best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans was Hurricane Katrina.”

-Arne Duncan

In a time when it is difficult to find common ground between our two ruling political parties, Common Core stands out as an exception. Both “conservatives and liberals increasingly are voicing similar concerns: that the standards take a one-size-fits-all approach, create a de facto national curriculum, put too much emphasis on standardized tests and undermine teacher autonomy.” Despite the fact “that we won’t know for probably a decade” if these new standards and other “education stuff” will work, we have pushed them, untested, on our students.

The spread of the Common Core was solidified by “the Obama administration [who] all but forced states into it by requiring adoption of the new standards in order to be eligible for more than $4 billion in federal ‘Race to the Top’ grant money.” Obama’s Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, not only refused to listen to the concerns about these standards, but developed a reputation for leveling personal attacks against those who criticized them. Most famously, “Duncan said he found it ‘fascinating’ that opponents include ‘white suburban moms who -- all of a sudden -- (discovered that ) their child isn’t as bright as they thought they were.’” He also stated that “Common Core was a rallying cry for fringe groups,” ignoring the bi-partisan opposition.

The LAUSD knows what it is like to be led by a divisive superintendent and is still paying the price for John Deasy’s refusal to listen to his critics. For example, the FBI and SEC are currently looking into Deasy’s $1.3 billion iPad plan and the district will pay approximately $98 million to fix MiSiS. Proving once again that she does not learn from her mistakes, Tamar Galatzan, ignores the fact that Duncan would be another divisive leader when she announced at last week’s debate that she would be willing to “consider him” for the role of Superintendent. For some reason, she then added she would “not exclude anybody because he worked for...the Obama administration,” injecting partisan politics into a non-partisan race.

As someone who voted for President Obama in the past two general elections, I can assure Ms. Galatzan that I do not oppose Duncan on the grounds that he worked in Obama’s administration. Instead, I firmly believe that his inability to work collaboratively with education professionals and parents has harmed our students. The concept of a universal set of standards was not a bad one, but his failure of leadership has allowed a system to develop that has caused more harm than good. If Tamar Galatzan does not recognize this is not the type of leadership that the LAUSD needs, then this is just one more reason not to re-elect her on May 19.