BY FRANK P. BELCASTRO
President-elect Barack Obama named as his nominee for U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, the chief executive officer of the Chicago Public Schools system [CPS]. But what is evident from Duncan’s seven years in charge is his belief that the business of education should, first and foremost, embrace the logic of the free market and privatization.
Duncan’s belief in privatizing public education can be most clearly seen in Chicago’s Renaissance 2010 plan, the centerpiece of his time in that city. Renaissance 2010 provoked striking resistance within affected communities and neighborhoods.
There were heated community hearings and similarly angry testimony at Board of Education meetings, as well as door-to-door organizing, picketing, and even, at one point, a student walk-out.
The opposition brought together unions, teachers, students, school reformers, community leaders and organizations, parents in African-American South and West Side communities, and some Latino community activists and teachers.
Under Duncan, the critical voices of parents, community leaders, students, and teachers regularly fell on deaf ears.
This is a reasonable indication of the kind of “reform” he’s likely to bring to the country as education secretary. Disheartening.
– Frank P. Belcastro lives in Dubuque, IA and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer