Secretary Duncan’s spin

From the Star Tribune (Minneapolis-St. Paul):

The number of elementary schools nationwide offering classes in visual arts, drama and dance has declined in the past decade, according to a recent report from the Department of Education. Some cite budget cuts and a greater focus on reading and math for the reductions of such courses.

Political Spin

(next sentence –>) Education Secretary Arne Duncan said, however, that the data show arts classes still are common in elementary schools, and there has been no reported decline of arts education in middle and high schools.

Cut the Crap

Drinking fountains, cafeterias, and media centers are still common in American elementary schools.  If we were a third world country, that would be comforting, too.

Secretary Duncan masked the unpleasant message and gave the administration’s spin. But “spin” is not without consequences, when it demonstrates the vices of our uneducated nature. Duncan’s statement missed the point of the report (ignorance and intellectual incompetence). It failed to admit that our test-score obsession hurts students (weakness and fear of truth).  And it reminded us that we are not a third world country (pride in America).

Duncan’s statement illustrates that the relationship between “educated” and democracy works in one direction.  Educated people are needed to make democracy work, but democratic governance does not necessarily produce “educated” Secretaries of Education.

But Secretary Duncan is safe in his job. Americans either believe there is no definition of the educated person or that it means getting high test scores. Mostly, though, we ignore the question of what it means to be educated as we set education policy. I love irony.