Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Which Is the Bigger Insult?

Last week, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said something rather shocking that went under the radar of most news organizations. As he was visiting a middle school in Denver he said to the gathered students, “Go ahead and boo me” when he made an insulting accusation about our nation’s schools.

Secretary Duncan frankly told the students, “I fundamentally think that our school day is too short, our school week is too short and our school year is too short.” If Secretary Duncan has his way, your child will be required to attend school for 6 days a week and go for 11 months out of the year, saying it’s a necessary change in order for our kids to compete with other countries. “[American students are] competing for jobs with kids from India and China. I think schools should be open six, seven days a week; eleven, twelve months a year.”

He wasn’t met with boos. Just stares.

I don’t know which is more stunning: the fact that Secretary Duncan just basically, in two sentences, indicted our national school system and basically admitted we as a nation have failed our children. Or, that in these economic times, how in the world would the Obama Administration actually find the money to keep your kids in a classroom six days a week, 11 months out of the year when school systems across the Valley and the country are laying off teachers, trying to keep schools open and operating in a tough economy.

Some school systems are so broke they are limiting school days to four a week, combining classrooms and shutting down after school activities. Yet Secretary Duncan has the bright idea to tell a bunch of middle schoolers that their educational system has already failed them.

If that is the case, why do so many students apply and come from around the world to attend our colleges and universities? Why is it that America is still looked at as the leader in innovation as well as the scientific and research giant in the private sector?

I don’t think Secretary Duncan realizes any these things. And maybe that’s the biggest insult to our children.

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