Good news today for people who care about students and the state of public education in America. As HuffPost put it: Arne Duncan Resigns Amid Legacy-Threatening Student Debt Crisis. And this summer, the Center for Media and Democracy wrote this about Duncan’s failed initiative to replace public schools with charters: Charter Program Expansion Looms Despite Probes into Mismanagement and Closed Schools.
Developer-owned charter schools are publicly funded but managed privately, without the obligation to provide any public accountability for either their teaching methods or financial expenditures. Not surprising that they’re a virtual breeding ground for a level of corruption so exaggerated that it turned GW Bush’s former Assistant Secretary of Education, Diane Ravitch, into one of the country’s leading public education advocates.
The shockwaves of public education destruction and suffocating college student debt, has emanated out around the country from the Chicago hub where Arne Duncan and Rahm Emanuel kicked it off and from the White House where Duncan somehow came to roost as Education Secretary. How many times have I – and countless other social justice advocates – prayed that some real information about the horrific abyss into which American education has been shoved, would get through to our President and jolt him awake from the slumber into which his close relationship with Duncan lulled him: Duncan, the Judas who betrayed the trust of his friend and leader along with the values of the American public, all in one go. May the man’s soul be awarded whatever fate it deserves.
It cannot be purely coincidental that this week at Vice President Al Gore’s Climate Reality Training in Miami, a fellow participant told Mr. Gore about the #Dyett15‘s recent 34 day hunger strike to save Chicago’s Dyett High School (achieved) and have it designated as a STEM and green technology school (not achieved). The VP asked, “Wait. Are you saying people held a hunger strike because they wanted so much for a green technology school to be created, and this wasn’t made to happen for them?”
Well yes. In a nutshell, that’s exactly what happened.
Brother Jitu Brown of the Journey 4 Justice Alliance led the education activists in the strike and on about day 20, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel agreed that Dyett would not be shut down – as had been previously announced. The activists additionally also won an “audience” with Arne Duncan. But their second most important demand – the one which motivated the strikers to continue without solid food for another two weeks – was summarily ignored by Duncan, even though it aligns perfectly with the education policy his boss framed and has promoted throughout his years in office. I mean, seriously, what was Duncan thinking?
So, today, President Obama finally announced Duncan’s resignation … and I for one, am really pleased.
Mr. Gore asked for information about the hunger strikers and as I happen to have spent some time with the Journey 4 Justice and follow its activities, I sent him the letter you see on the right (click to enlarge).
Dawn will shine tomorrow on a brand new day in the saga of American education. I look forward to seeing how Pres. Obama, now that his vision has cleared, will use his remaining time in office to help set public education back onto the solid footing it should always occupy.
Today also marks the day of our country’s first community college shooting at Umpqua College in Oregon. I pray that the injured benefit from rapid and complete recoveries … that the family of victims who became late are comforted by the loving embrace of Our Lord and Creator and that the deceased enjoy a golden peace in the world to come, sitting at God’s right hand.
Duncan caricature by DonkeyHotey