What is the superlative of Chutzpah? The incredible mendacity of Arne Duncan... U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan 'dumbed down' Chicago 'standards', took credit for the 'miracle of up'... but now he tells CNN the whole Chicago scam he spent eight years perfecting was 'lying to children'

One of the things that Chicago reporters who paid attention came to know within a year or two after Mayor Richard M. Daley made novice Arne Duncan the "Chief Executive Officer" of Chicago's public schools in July 2001 was that Duncan lied, almost all the time. When Duncan wasn't lying directly, we would simply make up facts or say "I'll get back to you on that" when asked a question he wanted to avoid when the TV cameras were on. No matter what the question, Duncan never got back, because he didn't have an answer. During the years Duncan was 'CEO' of Chicago's massive (400,000 students; 600 or more schools), the lies just grew, from budget claims to test score gains. It got to the point where when people would ask me about the latest outrageous claim, I'd just say "The best way to tell when Arne Duncan is lying is when his mouth opens and words come out."

On September 15, 2008, less than five months before he became U.S. Secretary of Education, then Chicago Schools Chief Executive Officer Arne Duncan appeared with Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley at the Young Elementary School on Chicago's West Side to proclaim that scores for elementary students on the ISAT (Illinois Standards Achievement Test) had gone "up" again because of the heroic policies of Mayor Daley and his school leadership team (headed by Duncan). The chart between Duncan and "Chief Education Officer Barbara Eason Watkins (above right) showed the elementary scores going "up," as was required during the years (2001 - 2008) Duncan served as CEO of CPS. The large bump in the scores above (the 2006 testing program) took place when both Richard M. Daley and Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich were running for reelection. That year, the tests were changed and all elementary students were provided with extra time to take the test. The bump remains now that the scores are tracked, as above, going back through Duncan's entire term. During the years he was praising the mayor and announcing the test scores were going "up," Duncan never answered questions about reported irregularities in the testing programs in Chicago. Nor did he answer questions about why high school scores remained flat, except to blame the high schools. A year after he became U.S. Secretary of Education, Duncan told CNN (on March 9, 2010) that state had been "lying" to the children when they reported better scores year after year. CNN's Wolf Blitzer did not ask Duncan whether some of the biggest lies came from Duncan during the years he was goosing up scores for Mayor Daley. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Duncan was a novice at running a school system, but a master at repeating the lies he was fed as part of his programming. He was eventually warned never to go off script, because when he did (as the country recently learned with his remarks about Hurricane Katrina being good for New Orleans) anything was possible. The only prominent Chicagoan who would be more ludicrous off script was the man who created Arne Duncan, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley.

So it was no surprise on March 9, 2010, to learn that Arne Duncan, accompanied by former U.S. Secretary of Education William Bennett, was on CNN News, lying.

Every year (except one) that Arne Duncan was at the top of Chicago's school system, test scores went "up", sometimes ludicrously so. After a change in state tests (the Illinois Standards Achievement Tests, ISAT) in 2006, primarily because in 2006 both Chicago's mayor and the Illinois Governor were up for reelection, test scores in Chicago went way way way "up." Duncan appeared with the mayor to celebrate "up."

Appearing with Duncan was conservative entrepreneur William Bennett, who had served as U.S. Secretary of Education and proclaimed Chicago's public schools "possibly the worst in the nation" in the late 1980s. Bennett's charge about Chicago (which he apparently repeated during those years about other large, largely minority urban school systems with powerful unions) became the title of a book by the Chicago Tribune — Chicago's Schools: Worst in America. In the book (the only book published by the Tribune in the last quarter century), the Tribune proposed the "market based" solution to the problems of CPS, arguing that vouchers would save the system and its children.

Duncan's 2007 test score lies, which were presented at a June 2007 press conference at CPS headquarters (above) showed the Chicago, under Duncan's and Daley's leadership, had not only gotten test scores to go "up" in the elementary schools, but had "narrowed the achievement gap" between Chicago and the rest of Illinois. During the years Duncan was CEO of Chicago's school system, the data above were presented year after year, without any explanation of any of the complex factors underlying the scores. During those same years, Duncan changed his "Chief Accountability Officer" (the person in charge of the testing program) on a regular basis. No top official of the Chicago Public Schools has been a trained test expert since Mayor Daley took over the city's school system in 1995, and most have been political appointees who were not even members of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), the nation's foremost organization of test experts and psychometricians. Arne Duncan had not professional training in education when he was appointed CEO by Mayor Daley in July 2001 and would always avoid questions about the testing programs once he had read from the scripts about how scores had gone "up." Substance photo from a June 2007 Duncan press conference by George N. Schmidt. Ignoring the fact that Chicago had the most segregated city and schools in the nation, Bennett, the Tribune, and the city's corporate leaders joined to launch a 20-year attack on the city's public schools and the school workers' unions. The attack continues to this day, only now it has gone national.

On March 9, 2010, as U.S. Secretary of Education and Bennett's successor (at a distance) Arne Duncan appeared on CNN and told the nation that it was time to "stop lying" about test scores.

Like Bennett before him, Duncan left out most of the facts. And the most important facts left out by Duncan — and ignored by CNN — was that Duncan had been the main liar on behalf of those test scores that had gone "up" all but one of the years when Duncan headed Chicago's school system.

March 9, 2010. Duncan, Bennett: NCLB caused standards to lower. Posted: March 9th, 2010 07:06 PM ET

From CNN Associate Producer Martina Stewart

Obama administration Education Secretary Arne Duncan, left, discussed education reform Tuesday on CNN with former Reagan administration Education Secretary William Bennett, right.

Washington (CNN) – Modern education policy makes for strange bedfellows.

Current Education Secretary Arne Duncan and former Education Secretary William Bennett, agreed Tuesday that No Child Left Behind, a trademark initiative of former President George W. Bush, has caused some states to lower educational standards.

"We have dummied-downed standards," Duncan said on CNN's Situation Room. "It's our fault as adults. We've lowered the bar. We've had low expectations – not because it's the right thing educationally, not because it's the right thing for our economy. We did it because of political pressure."

Asked by CNN's Wolf Blitzer what he meant by "political pressure," Duncan blamed the previous administration's signature educational policy which created a regime of standardized testing as one of the major indicators of a school's success in educating kids.

"What we've seen under No Child Left Behind is – we saw many states actually reducing standards to respond to that political pressure. That's bad for children, bad for education. Wolf, we've been lying to children in our country."

Watch the interview after the jump:

The Obama education chief explained that the lower standards mean children are being told that they are meeting standards but end up barely able to complete high school and inadequately prepared for college.

"We have to stop lying," Duncan added.

Bennett, a conservative radio talk show host who served in the late President Reagan's administration, agreed with Duncan's critique. "Something like 15 to 18 states have lowered standards since [the passage of] No Child Left Behind," the Reagan-era education chief said.

Bennett added that the teachers' unions – longtime allies of the Democratic Party – have also exerted political pressure over educational standards.

"There is insufficient accountability," Bennett said referring to the resistance teachers' unions have shown to some educational reforms.

Later in the conservation, Blitzer asked Duncan if education policy might be one area where the administration could find common ground with conservatives.

"This is the one issue where all of us, regardless of politics and ideology, all of us, feel a huge sense of urgency," Duncan said.

He added, "This is the civil rights issue of our generation. There is also and economic imperative."

Once again, Bennett appeared to agree with Duncan.

"As I've said, we have our disagreements," Bennett said. "But, you know what? He's gotten into fights with the right people. As an old Irishman I think that's a pretty good sign."

Follow Martina Stewart on Twitter: @MMStewartCNN

Filed under: Arne Duncan • Bill Bennett • Education • The Situation Room


March 11, 2010 at 11:33 AM

By: kugler

Duncan is Guilty

he can not live anymore with the fact that he destroys thousands of lives and contributed to the murders of chicago he tells CNN the whole Chicago scam he spent eight years perfecting was 'lying to children'

Arne Duncan, United States Secretary of Education and former CEO of Chicago Public Schools, was interviewed on Face the Nation September 6, 2009

Duncan: Obama Aims to Motivate Students

CQ Transcript: Education Secretary Duncan on CBS’s ‘Face the Nation’

Finally, Duncan got around to a central theme coming out of the Education Department now — "lying to children." What are the lies? Claims for success in Chicago when there was little or none? Charter schools that were never held accountable while Duncan was head of Chicago's schools? Using so-called 'standardized' tests to measure everything from children and their teachers to whole schools (but not charter schools)? No. According to Arne Duncan the "lies" America has to worry about are test scores that lull children into thinking they are proficient when Arne Duncan insists they are not.

March 12, 2010 at 2:54 PM

By: Jude Moriarty

Duncan - HOT AIR

How laughable for pampered, priviledged, basketball player Duncan - to be talking about inner city education or civil rights!

The FACT is / minority children - poor children are being prepared NOT for a job that will see them escape poverty but for menial jobs in the local WIGGET Factory or the MILITARY. No need for (found in Washington D.C. private schools - where their kids attend) literature, language, science buildings, computer labs, etc.

The REAL reason for all this brouhaha about (sob) the children is to RID the nation of yet another UNION - nobody is being honest here. In a wage slave society UNIONS are out.

Arne went to the Lab school (as did President's kids - now at Sidwell - no teaching to test there) in Chicago - sends his kids to upper class Virgina schools/ no fear of gangs - drugs - decaying schools there.

Meantime THEY (D.C. politicians) send their kids to (sniff) high cost private schools with French chefs - sumptuous libraries - top notch (many degreed) teachers - NO special needs, handicapped kids / and NO teaching to the test in these schools -

Schools where Chicago children's future GREEDY bosses and lying politic ans are being groomed. WAKE up folks ---First thing President Obama did was to CANCEL (juniority kids) vouchers for D.C. kids who FINALLY had a chance at mixing with the upper crust. Back to the ghetto schools for them.

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