Arne Duncan is Stepping Down as Secretary of Education

arne duncan

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced last Friday that he is stepping down from his own position. To commemorate his departure, AEI’s Frederick Hess wrote a commentary for National Review that outlines Duncan’s long record of pushing bad policy and dividing Americans.

Here is a preview of the take-down:

There was the mean-spirited partisanship. When congressional Republicans raised concerns about the administration’s preschool proposals, Duncan dismissed such worries as “morally indefensible” and tantamount to “education malpractice.”

There was the bureaucratic, Washington-centric Race to the Top program. Race to the Top is often hailed as Duncan’s signature success. If so, that’s a sad commentary. Congress earmarked more than $4 billion in stimulus funding to support states tackling four broad areas of reform. Duncan’s team proceeded to turn that into a prescriptive 19-item checklist, one that required states to pledge fealty to Duncan’s reform agenda — and on his timeline. The program massively increased federal control over state policy, pushed states to adopt the Common Core even before it had been committed to paper — in fact, Race to the Top was literally unwinnable if states didn’t adopt the standards — and led to rushed and half-baked proposals of potentially good ideas (like overhauling teacher evaluation).

There was the denigration of Common Core opponents. Duncan made Common Core a condition not only of the Race to the Top program but also of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waivers. And when all the strong-arming eventually fueled pushback, Duncan told a room of the nation’s state education chiefs that the complaints were coming from “white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — [realize] their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were.” Duncan told the American Society of Newspaper Editors — while charging them with cracking down on the skeptics — that the Common Core pushback could be chalked up to a misinformed, ideological “fringe.”

The whole commentary is definitely worth the read. See the rest at National Review here.