New Yorker Magazine Buries the Lede in Puff Piece on Education Secretary Duncan

Arne Duncan

New Yorker Buries the Lede in Puff Piece on Secretary Duncan

I’m glad that Carlo Rotella decided to do some actual reporting in his treacly ode to Education Secretary Arne Duncan in the February 1st edition of the New Yorker Magazine. Unfortunately, it’s buried at the end of the article. After four puffy pages wherein we learn that Duncan is a marvelous human being who loves basketball, the author finally begins to do his job as a reporter, and the results aren’t very comforting. You see, there isn’t a whole lot of evidence that the programs Duncan is spending billions of taxpayer dollars on actually work. I’ll let the quotations speak for themselves:

Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach of the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy Studies (who describes herself as “basically in favor of Duncan’s policies”) gives this rousing endorsement of the upshot of Duncan‘s policies as head of the Chicago schools: “I don’t think there’s any real evidence that people are made worse off, and there’s limited evidence that that they’re making things better.”

Kenneth Saltman, professor of education at DePaul University, calls Duncan a “hatchet man for (Mayor) Daley” and a “militant privatizer who label(ed) schools in black communities as failures to justify opening new charters that could skim off the highest-achieving students, thereby widening the gap between winners and losers.”

Erik Hanishek of the Stanford Institution “is one of the most outspoken senior academics in the market forces camp. But even he describes the reforms that Duncan has pursued as ‘the best guesses for how to go forward’”

According to Rotella, Diane Ravitch of New York University believes that Duncan’s so-called “market forces party can offer nothing better than a vague idea that their reforms should work, rather than evidence that they actually do.” “You shouldn’t set the agenda if you’re not sure the agenda works,” argues Ravitch.

Steven Rivkin, an economist at Amherst, “worries that Duncan may be pushing too hard for policies which haven’t proven effective.”

by Richard W. Bray

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3 Responses to “New Yorker Magazine Buries the Lede in Puff Piece on Education Secretary Duncan”

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