Secretary of Education Arne Duncan Distorts the Data — Again

Yesterday on the website of the Washington Post Valerie Strauss posted this column by New York’s award winning public high school principal Carol Burris to correct misinformation being spread by U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan.

Speaking at a Boston charter school last week, Duncan said, according to news reports: “Forty percent of your high-school graduates are taking remedial classes when they go to four-year universities.  That’s a staggering number… Four in 10 of your high school graduates aren’t ready for college.”

High school principal Burris writes, “I am weary of the lie that increasing numbers of public high school graduates are grossly unprepared for college.  The picture painted is one of inept students roaming college campuses unable to operate pencil sharpeners or read their class schedules.  We are told it is a national emergency.”  After examining the data, Burris concludes, “I estimate that the percentage of students in Massachusetts who attend four-year colleges and take remedial courses is roughly 17 percent, not the 40 percent that Duncan claimed.”

Burris continues, “No one celebrates when even one college student needs remediation.  As a high school principal, I have always assumed responsibility for preparing students for post secondary education…  It is also important to know that the United States is No. 4 in the world—just behind Canada, Israel, and Japan—on the percentage of adults with college degrees.”

Burris believes Arne Duncan is distorting statistics to promote the political agenda of his own U.S. Department of Education: “…misinformation is part of a continuing strategy to paint a picture of American public schools as failures in order to sell the public the Common Core, charter schools and the corporate reform agenda.”

To read two positive stories from this blog about the performance of public high schools, read this post and this post.

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One thought on “Secretary of Education Arne Duncan Distorts the Data — Again

  1. Appointing Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education is one of my greatest disappointments in Mr. Obama. During the 2008 campaign he had Linda Darling-Hammond of Stanford University as his education consultant. I was hopeful that she would go to Washington and serve as Secretary of Education, and we would finally put behind us No Child Left Behind. Instead, the President left Linda Darling-Hammond behind and took his basketball buddy Arne Duncan to Washington. Duncan has made it easy for the free market capitalists to attack our public schools and attempt to replace them with privately run charter schools primarily for shareholder profit with taxpayer money.

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