Retiring Education Secretary Arne Duncan is nothing less than the poster boy for President Barack Obama’s determination to inflict as much centralized government on Americans as possible.
Duncan, who announced Friday he’ll step down in December, decreed what is effectively a national education standard — the much-reviled “Common Core” — before anyone really understood what was happening. Neither Congress nor state legislatures had much of a say.
Even as Obama early in his first term was noisily realizing the liberal dream of universal health care, Duncan was quietly, and swiftly, doing something similar with education.
Duncan, in collusion with billionaire Bill Gates, whose foundation was spending millions in support of Common Core, pressed states to act quickly on the program. Duncan dangled billions from the 2009 stimulus before the states, handing them cash if they quickly adopted the standards.
“Because of the way education policy is generally decided, the Common Core was instituted in many states without a single vote taken by an elected lawmaker,” the liberal Washington Post reported last year. “It was a clever way around federal laws that prohibit Washington from interfering in what takes place in classrooms … The movement grew so quickly and with so little public notice that opposition was initially almost nonexistent.”
Meantime, in a brutal, backhanded federal power grab, Duncan offered to exempt states from onerous requirements in the No Child Left Behind law and its test-driven education standards if they instituted Common Core.
By 2010, the program had been adopted nearly nationwide. Critics say the standards were jammed into place without sufficient testing or proof that they would work. In effect, Duncan has made guinea pigs of your kids, as he and Gates gamble that the new standards will have a positive effect.
Two years ago, Duncan offered up some contempt and racial profiling in his criticism of those who questioned Common Core:
“It’s fascinating to me that some of the pushback is coming from, sort of, white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were, and that’s pretty scary,” Duncan said. “You’ve bet your house and where you live and everything on, ‘My child’s going to be prepared.’ That can be a punch in the gut.”
The comment raises questions about whether part of Duncan’s motivation is a typical left-wing desire to artificially equalize society.
When Obama said just before Election Day in 2008 that he was on the cusp of “fundamentally transforming the United States of America,” he wasn’t kidding.
He pushed through sweeping change in the most fundamental areas of our life — education, environmental standards (for greenhouse gas emissions) and health care — while attempting to unilaterally legalize millions of illegal immigrants. In three of four of these areas, he moved without the cooperation of Congress.
The animating force behind such thinking is the presumption of liberals that they are smarter than everyone else and know what’s best for people. Annoying matters such as the Constitution and democratic values are to be discarded if necessary to save the rest of us dummies from ourselves.
Arne Duncan was one of those who knew best. His legacy for your children or grandchildren is a wholesale change in the way they must learn — and a government with greater purview over their lives and one that cares less about what they think.
This piece originally appeared in PoliZette.