Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Arne Duncan's Love Letter to Teachers

Andrew Sullivan discusses Rush Limbaugh’s sarcastic “praise” of President Obama here, here, and here.  Unfortunately, Limbaugh is not the clear winner of yesterday’s most insincere human of the day award.  Secretary of Education Arne Duncan blogs an open letter to American teachers that leads me to believe that Limbaugh’s admittedly sarcastic words may have contained more sincerity than Duncan’s bromides.

Duncan tells teachers “you deserve to be respected, valued, and supported” and concludes his missive, “I want you to know that I hear you, I value you, and I respect you.” If I may be permitted to paraphrase Shakespeare, the secretary doth protest too much, methinks.  In fact, the whole tone of the piece smacks of “I’m tired of your complaining about not getting respect; here’s some paragraphs that use the word, now shut up and do what I tell you.” 

One form letter with sentimental phrasing posted on a government blog doesn’t change the fact that Duncan has taken the worst parts of NCLB and make them worse.  Duncan writes, “Inside your classroom, you exercise a high degree of autonomy.”  Everything Duncan has done, however, has added to “the imposition of curriculum that reduces teaching to little more than a paint-by-numbers exercise.”  Nothing he has proposed to date has increased autonomy or helped “recognize, honor, and show respect for our experienced educators will reaffirm teaching as a profession of nation builders and social leaders dedicated to our highest ideals.”  Duncan, like his predecessors has tied everything to test scores not ideals.

Last night, I tweeted that the letter reminded me of a patron leaving cash on the nightstand after patronizing a lady of the evening.  That analogy was wrong.  Subsequent readings of the letter lead me to believe the proper analogy is a husband telling his wife he can’t live without her before he goes out to see his mistress.  Posting sweet nothings on a blog doesn’t make Duncan any less of a cad nor does it make his policies any less destructive.



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