There will be a lot of flowery words written about the Education Secretary for the vast majority of Barack Obama’s administration, but what we should all remember Arne Duncan for is his attempt to circumvent federal law and try to backdoor in Common Core as a federal policy, as well as being so hopelessly partisan any attempts to say otherwise are laughable.
Simply put, Duncan is a partisan hack masquerading as an education reformer.
Common Core State Standards are highly controversial. I’m in the minority here of actually liking the standards (for English – I have to teach them), but I know good and well that any attempt to federalize the standards is not only a dangerous idea, it would see a tremendous backlash I don’t think anyone can truly anticipate. They are more controversial to education than [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ] is to the Senate. And Duncan used several means to backdoor them as a federal policy, including tying vital federal funding to them.
Duncan has also opposed any and all attempts by Republicans to fix No Child Left Behind (I agree with all of you fuming right now that it should be outright repealed), calling efforts to tie in school choice and other conservative education policies dangerous to children.
As an educator, I am glad to see Duncan step down, though I dread what the lame duck presidency will put forward as a replacement. Education is the biggest civil policy battle on the horizon, and Republicans need to do their best to prevent the president from trying to force through somebody who is (somehow) worse than Duncan is.