Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Silver Lining in the Appointment of John King-These Are Perfect Conditions for Revolt!


These are perfect conditions for revolt!
Education Activists! What are you waiting for?


It is hard to applaud John King's appointment as Interim Secretary of Education to replace the much hated Arne Duncan. In New York, he was legendary for openly displaying boredom, even contempt, when teachers, parents and students spoke out at open hearings held around the state on the newly unveiled Common Core Curriculum and the tests aligned to it. Moreover, his experience with public education was almost as limited as Duncan's consisting of three years as a charter school administrator before he moved in the New York State Education Department.
However, there is one positive aspect to this appointment. Because Dr King never had to go through confirmation hearings by Congress to get appointed to his position, and because he left his Commissioner position in New York at a time of unprecedented teacher and parent unrest, his ability to launch any new initiatives is severely compromised. At best, he will continue administering Duncan's policies, but even there his ability to defend existing initiatives, or penalize those resisting them, will be far less powerful than Secretary Duncan would have been able to do.
What does this mean on the ground?
That local and state education officials who disagree with Department of Education mandates, whether on testing of special needs students, use of tests in teacher evaluation, or closing low performing schools rather than helping them, can openly defy them with less chance of retaliation.
University faculty and administrators can do the same with burdensome assessment protocols imposed on their schools.
Duncan had limited credibility, but much power. King has almost no credibility and far less power.
These are perfect conditions for revolt!
Education Activists! What are you waiting for?

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