Duncan double- and triple-talks on 'The Daily Show' with Jon Stewart

This short piece of excerpts from Arne's appearance on Daily Show yesterday (February 16, 2012) may be of interest. Arne, very experienced at soundbites, offers robo-responses to some good questions by Jon Stewart. When Arne doesn't feel like answering Jon's question, he answers another question he has stored in his back pocket. At least he spared Jon Stewart the famous lines he repeated dozens of times in Chicago when asked a serious question by Substance reporter George Schmidt: "I'll get back to you on that."

Above, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, Chicago Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and Illinois State Senator Kimberly Lightford at Chicago's Schurz High School on September 8, 2011. Not one of the people at the podium questioned the bizarre slogan of the U.S. Department of Education, "Investing in our future," or challenged the Duncan administration's notion that the purpose of public schools in a democracy was some kind of economic Darwinianism. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The URL for the complete Daily Show of February 16, 2012 is:

Here are a few highlights.

Jon Stewart Exclusive - Arne Duncan Extended Interview

Part 1 Jon Stewart interviews Arne Duncan Jon: My mother is a teacher. Her friends are teachers. . . they have an issue with Race to the Top. . . .

Arne: We're turning around under-performing schools. . . We're trying to fix things. . . . We're seeing amazing innovations coming from states. . . .

Jon made the point that "causing schools to teach to the test frustrates teachers rather than freeing them to be creative." Arne blamed this on the evil NCLB and insisted "we're for a well-rounded education for every child."

Jon: Benchmarks give mistaken impression that teaching is a science. Teaching is an art. . . . Isn't RTTT the exact thing that demoralizes teachers even further?

Arne: We're trying to empower great local teachers and parents. . . . We have to educate our way to a better economy. . . two million jobs that go unfilled because there are no qualified workers to fill them. . . .

Part 2

Jon: They adopted your standards.

Arne: No. We don't have national standards. This is all done by courageous governors and state chief officers at local level. We do not have national standards.

Jon: Are educators' voices being heard enouogh?

Arne: . . . We're trying to take pockets of excellence--like Geoffrey Canada--and bring them to scale. . . .

Jon: Was RTTT a misstep?

Arne Duncan at Chicago's Schurz High School on September 8, 2011. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Arne: Absolutely not. . . . All leadership is coming from the state level. . . Part 3 Arne: . . . great teachers who work longer days, longer school years. . . . [talked about great things he did in Chicago--wrap-around services, etc.] We have 95,000 schools in this country. . . . They don't belong to me; they belong to the community. Jon: . . . What you're describing doesn't seem to be matching up to teachers' experience. What can you say to them more directly, on a human level. . .

Arne: . . . Yesterday we announced we're spending 5 billion dollars to significantly elevate the profession. . . The entire pipeline is broken. . . . we're going to put a huge amount of money into places that train teachers better. . . we're going to compensate teachers in very different ways. . . . What we're doing with RTTT is to support really great teachers--the tough tough fight in New York will ultimately support great teachers. . . . Recognize and reward excellence. . . . That's what this entire initiative is about. . . .

NOTE. Part 1 of interview is here .

Part 2 of the interview is here.

Part 3 is here .


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