Saturday, March 10, 2012

Flunking Barack Obama

There is much more to Diane Ravitch’s latest post to NYRBlog, “Flunking Arne Duncan,” which appeared earlier this week, than her systematic account of all the ways in which Barack Obama’s Secretary of Education has done such a dreadful job.  The real punch line comes when she escalates her analysis from education to general public policy at the end of the post:

We will someday view this era as one in which the nation turned its back on its public schools, its children, and its educators. We will wonder why so many journalists and policymakers rejected the nation’s obligation to support public education as a social responsibility and accepted the unrealistic, unsustainable promises of entrepreneurs and billionaires. And we will, with sorrow and regret, think of this as an era when an obsession with testing and data obliterated any concept or definition of good education. Some perhaps may recall this as a time when the nation forgot that education has a greater purpose than preparing our children to compete in the global economy.

This is not just a critique of educational policy.  The logic of this paragraph applies just as effectively to an economic policy in which the concept of recovery seems to signify only for the financial sector.  Perhaps it even applies to a foreign policy that is concerned more with supply chain management than with our country’s ability to act as an honest broker in resolving global crisis situations.

The Obama Administration has provided a painful reminder that, while the people choose their President, they have no voice in who advises him.  Once in office, Obama’s audacity has amounted to casting his lot with the 1% and giving no thought to dancing with those who brought him to the Inaugural Ball.  The only thing more depressing that the fact that Obama deserves to share Duncan’s failing marks is that the Republican Party seems determined to put up a candidate likely to fail even more destructively.

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