Are You Experienced?

Depending on how interested you are in these things, you may have noticed that Barack Obama will nominate Arne Duncan to be his Secretary of Education.  As a recently retired classroom teacher, I’m interested.  As a lifetime student of  this and that, I’m more interested.

A brief prologue.  A couple of years ago, prompted by a comment on some blog, I made it a point to take a look at the website for the Harvard School of Education.  Checking the faculty CV’s, I found that, as predicted, there was very little public school teaching experience to be found.  In most cases, none.  There were a few brief stints at A-list prep schools which, to my way of thinking, is probably worse than none.  I admit to being unsurprised but, despite that, I also remember feeling a little discouraged at the time.  Mr. Duncan’s nomination inspires a similar response.

The newspapers inform me that Mr. Duncan has “no formal teaching experience.”  Let’s leave aside the issue of how much informal experience he has and what that may mean.  Let’s also, for the moment, delay a discussion of his dedication to the ubiquitous “best practices” and  “the latest research in the field.”  Likewise an appreciation of how nice a guy he is or an analysis of his advertised successes in Chicago.  Back burner.  Let’s just stick with this experience thing.  Mr. Duncan never taught in a public school; he, as far as I can determine, did not attend a public school (going instead to the U of C Lab School, yeah, that one).  His child currently does attend a public school; odds against, I’d say, this continuing if he moves to DC.

In this last respect Mr. Duncan proves himself preferable to Michael Bennet (currently superintendent here in Denver) who never taught, never attended the public schools, and privately schooled his own children.  And yet Mr. Bennet was promoted locally as being on the same short list with Mr. Duncan.  Same reasons, same profile: young, nice guy, latest research, yadda, yadda.

Question: Do you think any of this matters? 

My answer: Yes, it does. 

Caroline Kennedy’s answer: Why are you being such a hater?

More later.  Plus, I hope, LINKS, my next project.  That and maybe being a little less wordy.  Please notice: I just added TAGS.  Woo-hoo!


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