From AccountableTalk:Whew. I'm glad he cleared that up. I'm sure that makes it all better. Now it's New York's turn with Major Bloomberg.
Arne Duncan on hurricanes and education: "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."
"We had to close the school in order to save it"
An update below the fold.
Update, based on RightontheleftCoast's concern that people will try to make hay out of this:
I didn't think "Searchlight Harry" Reid was out of line for using the word "negro", and I don't think Duncan is out of line for saying what he did. Anyone with an ounce of integrity has to admit that he, like Reid in the instance I mentioned, is correct.
Now, if one of President Bush's secretaries had said something similar, well, the press would have exploded; instead, with Duncan, we get a blurb on an ABC blog. This story might get a little traction, but certainly not as much as it would have under a Republican administration.
To be honest, I hope the NEA and other usual suspects do criticize Duncan for saying this. It would show, yet again, that they don't really care about education or about teachers, they just care about getting more money for their own self-aggrandizement. And if they think they can score some cool points by attacking the Secretary of Education for saying something as obvious as the nose on his face, you can bet they will.
I've got to disagree. Having the Secretary of Education posit that the hurricane was the best thing that ever happened to New Orleans education is way over the line, in my opinion. While not to the point of needing to call out Godwin's Law, it is of that nature.
Death and destruction on a massive scale is not a good thing, even if you could possibly find "fault" with the people of New Orleans for the disaster. As Arne points out, the progress in four years is unbelievable -- no kidding. When you start from scratch, there's nowhere else to go.
While "They have a long way to go" "They were not serious about education before" "desperately underserved" may be correct (and that's debatable, too, since not ALL were so) but it is nanny-state, elitist, and condescending. "That city was not serious about its education" is pretty simplistic. In their situation, I'd tell the Secretary where he could shove his opinion, and offer him my boot to help insert.
How many other areas of the country have similar educational problems - should we ask for an earthquake to solve San Francisco's problems, sea-level rise to solve New York's, and a ten-day tornado-driven basketball-hail ice-storm to solve Vermont's? (we're tough - takes a big disaster to bring us down)
Okay, I'm being extreme. Maybe Arne should have said that "Katrina wiped out a lot of good along with the bad, but that in a time of so much personal devastation, the people of New Orleans have shouldered this great burden and have taken the opportunity to completely revamp their whole system as they build from the ground up."
Just because he was appointed by a Democrat doesn't make Duncan wrong, and the NEA should speak up whenever something isn't right, Republican or no. Condemning this doesn't mean "It would show, yet again, that they don't really care about education or about teachers, they just care about getting more money for their own self-aggrandizement." That's pretty damn near a fallacy right there.