Cunningham challenged... Huff Post writer rebuts 'Peter Cunningham's whiny attack on Diane Ravitch

Writing in the dreaded Huffington Post, Kent Brockman speaks for MANY of his fellow teachers in his powerful statement rebutting Peter Cunningham's whiny attack on Diane Ravitch. Cunningham seems to be trying to refute Diane Ravitch's upcoming book before it's published. He hasn't read it, but he's running scared already. Cunningham is former Assistant Secretary for Communications and Outreach, U.S. Department of Education, where he 'was responsible for messaging the President and Secretary's education agenda.'

This rant is interesting because it is so contrary to his former messaging technique of "make nice."

As Caroline Granan reported, when Richard Rothstein offered sharp criticism on a radio program, KCRW "To the Point," then-Duncan US Department of Education messenger Cunningham was over-the-top genial.

* When Rothstein pointed to the damage done by an overreliance on standardized testing, Cunningham concurred.

*When Rothstein said that Race to the Top is "accentuating the harm that NCLB did," Cunningham agreed, "Absolutely that's a very real issue."

*When Rothstein pointed out that "charter schools on average don't have better student performance than regular public schools," Cunningham responded, "We 100% agree that many of them are not good."

Of course, Substance readers weren't surprised. Substance Editor George Schmidt carefully documented Cunningham as "overseer of the Chicago Board of Education's media relations" during the years (2001- 2008) when Duncan served as "Chief Executive Officer" of Chicago's public schools.

Cunningham had final approval over all of Duncan's public speeches and usually rehearsed Duncan in talking points when a subject was more complex than a few simple sound bites. Then Cunningham was in charge of public relations for the U.S. Department of Education, including the "rebranding" of No Child Left Behind and the marketing of "Race to the Top."

Monty Neill made the point that Arne Duncan is deliberately vague in his speeches, not to mask a lack of knowledge of the issues but to mask what the Department of Education is really doing behind the scenes.

Now Cunningham is president of Cunningham Communications, a Chicago firm specializing in communications focused on education, government, and economic development for public, private and non-profit clients.

And he is on the team with Whiteboard Advisors , where he 'advises clients on strategic communications and thought leadership.' So if you decide to waste your time reading his post at Huffington, think of it as 'strategic communication' from a self-proclaimed 'thought leader.'

A con man.

Who is the client he's messaging for in this rant on Ravitch? He's spent his career 'playing nice,' so what's this really about?

To Peter Cunningham, by Kent Brockman

'...we can discuss it like adults with intellectual rigor and mutual respect and adjust accordingly.'

No Pete, we can't. You gave up your end of the 'Mutual Respect' conversation when you deprofessionalized my life's work. Your policies took what was once an institution foundered upon collaboration for the common good of all students within a community and reduced it to a market based competitive model.

50% of my shiny new evaluation is now based upon students in my classes making more growth on in non-normed once a year tests than those students in the classroom next door. And no, you do not get to use my love for the children as a bullywhip against me.

I hope you and Arnie make good use of your thirty pieces of silver. You sure have earned them.


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