Will Arne Duncan blame teaches for all those dead whales and sea turtles too? A letter to the U.S. Department of Education

[Editor's note: The following was e-mailed to our old friend Peter Cunningham, who is now chief propagandists for the U.S. Department of Education and Arne Duncan, who is still U.S. Secretary of Education.]

June 18, 2010

Hello Peter:

As you may have heard, the Substance staff has been very busy lately here in Chicago. Even if you haven't heard, you can see the results of that "busy" by going to Even you can comment if you wish, but we prefer people to comment in their own names. We're not a blog.

I was at a meeting of CORE yesterday and not one of the 120 (plus) teachers there (they filled the middle room at Manny's Deli) supports Arne Duncan's "Race to the top" stuff. A bunch of us asked around. As you know, the verdict on Marilyn Stewart and the United Progressive Caucus was overwhelming: roughly 12,000 to 8,000 is the margin by which CORE won. You might remember, since you were here in Chicago for part of the CORE organizing, the back of the classic CORE tee shirts reads "Stop Renaissance 2010."

If you want, I'm sure that Chicago could get a couple of thousand teachers and parents to contact the Eduction Department saying that the answer to Duncan's policies from Chicago is "NO!"

I'm only mentioning this because Arne has been going around lying to the public — and members of Congress — saying that he is experiencing no opposition to the programs. "Zero" as he told The New York times.

Please give him our greetings and remind him that the kinds of lies he got away with in Chicago might not fly so easily across the USA. We still treasure every one of his "I'll get back to you on that" isms. As you remember, he never did.

Now that Substance has survived the latest cyberattack on our website, we also need to get the daily calendars of the Secretary of Education as well as copies of his speeches. Can you believe we had nearly 65,000 hits in one day just prior to the June 12 cyberproblems that shut us down for five days? At one point we had 500 people at the site simultaneously, according to Dan Schmidt (remember Dan?). Everyone was logging in and weighing in — then "Boom!" Five days without a site.

Schedules and speeches of Arne we're interested in. Can you please send them along to me here? Get them on a list or two perhaps?

Finally, we want to know whether Arne will be going to the conventions of the NEA (beginning roughly July 1 in New Orleans) and AFT (beginning July 7 in Seattle. We will have reporters covering both and want an interview with Arne during each of those events.

You know, whenever we see the administration trying to figure out how to deal with BP, I think maybe you guys should be transferred to the Gulf of Mexico division. While the President has been waffling on what to do about corporate corruption, you all seem to have had no problems blaming the nation's public school teachers for just about everything. Now don't try blaming those dead whales and sea turtles on us, too. Even The New York Times would have to call you out if you tried that one.

George N. Schmidt

Editor, Substance 


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