May 17, 2009
The Honorable Arne Duncan
Secretary of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW,
Washington, DC 20202
Dear Mr. Secretary:
On Election Day 2008 I was thrilled that Barack Obama had been elected, because I had volunteered in the campaign, donated my time and money (and my wife’s as well), and I knew how important it was to have him elected. In the interim, I have had been told that hope and change are on the way. But today, I am demoralized.
A few weeks ago, President Obama remarked that he didn’t make comment about the bonuses that were being paid out with stimulus money because he didn’t want to speak about that which you didn’t know. Why haven’t you or President Obama applied that same standard in your remarks about public education? Your remarks about public education demonstrate a clear ignorance about MY profession. I expected better from you and President Obama, and today, I am demoralized.
Many of the fellows of The Education and the Public Interest Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder and the Education Policy Research Unit at Arizona State University have written President Obama, and done so far more eloquently than I can. But it is clear from the path that you are pushing public education, that this information is being ignored. The term negligence comes to mind regarding the current trend in the political push regarding public education.
You, sir, as well as President Obama have a duty to the public education establishment. The push to close “low performing schools and build charters run by private corporations" is more of the same wrong-headed policies that your predecessor, George W. Bush, so loved. And making student achievement synonymous with test scores will require me and my fellow teachers to continue committing acts of educational malpractice. This is negligent. Thus today, I am demoralized.
Please, Secretary Duncan, I challenge you to educate yourself about the true state of public education, not listen to those who would privatize public schools, not those who want schools run like a business, not those who want a cheap worker delivery system, not those who wish to put a large portion of the $800 billion spent on public education in their own pocket at the expense of my students. Until public education policy-makers demonstrate a true understanding that public education is the cornerstone of our democratic republic, I will be demoralized.
Sean Michael Black, M. A., Ed. S.