Home > Uncategorized > Frank Bruni Buys Into the Politics of USDOE… Ignores the Facts

Frank Bruni Buys Into the Politics of USDOE… Ignores the Facts

May 31, 2015

The Education Assassins”, Frank Bruni’s column in today’s NYTimes, reinforces the politics of public education while overlooking the real problems public schools face and completely overlooking the role USDOE has played in the student loan crisis. Bruni’s focus in this piece is the willingness of four marginal Presidential candidates— Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee,Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio— to consider closing the USDOE and the rejection of all Republican candidates save Jeb Bush to eliminate the Common Core. Bruni, who seems to unquestioningly accept the premises advanced by the “reformers”, laments this turn of events, emphasizing the need for a national curriculum and quoting a cast of neo-liberal “education leaders and advocates” to support his position. I dashed off this comment to share my perspectives on USDOE:

But the truth of the matter is that Arne Duncan (with Mr. Obama’s full support) has undercut the credibility of USDOE. The stimulus was a golden opportunity for USDOE to address the root cause of our “failing schools” which is the poor performance by children raised in poverty on the standardized tests that serve as “proof” that our schools are in distress. Instead of using stimulus funds to help school districts address this reality by expanding social services in schools, expanding preschool and after school programs for children raised in poverty, or fully funding special education, USDOE instituted a test-driven agenda that has demonized teachers, narrowed the curriculum to test-prep, and thrown open the door to privatization of public schools. At the same time Mr. Duncan has remained silent about the scandalous student loan situation because his department is a beneficiary of the usurious interest students are required to pay.

The debates over the common core are a distraction. The data gathered by USDOE reinforce what educators have known for years: students raised in affluence outperform children raised in poverty on standardized tests… and students in affluent school districts have superior opportunities compared to their peers in poverty stroked urban and rural districts. “Bad teachers” aren’t the problem: bad federal policy is!

One other comment I may leave is this: Bernie Sanders has more voter support than any one of the candidates mentioned in this article and no one on the NYTimes has outlined his views on public education. I hope that a column on the Democrat candidate’s perspectives will be forthcoming… they may have a different perspective than the Republicans and I hope they have a different perspective than Mr. Bruni.

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