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Friday, January 29, 2010

Obama's Education Chief Says Katrina Best Thing to Happen to New Orleans' Schools

Education Secretary Arne Duncan may not have meant it quite that way but he did say that today, in an interview with CNN's Roland Martin to be aired this weekend, according to an Education Week blog:

In an interview to be broadcast this weekend on Washington Watch With Roland Martin, Arne Duncan says, "I think the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans was Hurricane Katrina. That education system was a disaster, and it took Hurricane Katrina to wake up the community to say that 'we have to do better.'"

Arne Duncan does speak frankly when it comes to the shortcomings of urban school districts, but this comment seems unusually callous, even though we know what the secretary is trying to say. The public schools were a wreck before the storm, no real debate there. And, yes, the schooling options for many students are better in the city now, and student achievement is slowly, but surely on the rise.

But to the thousands of teachers, students, and school employees who lost colleagues, jobs, classrooms, school records, and the like, a remark like that from the nation's top education official is beyond insensitive.

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Beth said...

I guess we now know why Arne Duncan failed the students, teachers and parents in the Chicago Public Schools... no natural disasters. Thanks a lot, Arne!!

Wild Rebel said...

What Duncan said is offensive, but so is something the person who wrote the blog.

"I don't think any of us can know, unless we're from New Orleans, how raw the emotions still are about Katrina."

Um, perhaps if you were from somewhere else in SE Louisiana, or southern Mississippi perhaps? I didn't realize Katrina managed to go up the Mississippi River, flood New Orleans, and then manage to go back out the Mississippi River without damaging anything else.

But that's par for the course, no one feels compelled to care about anyone else but New Orleans when it comes to Katrina. That was a slap in the face to anyone not living in New Orleans who lost a home to Hurricane Katrina.

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