Monday, March 23, 2009

I'm glad Obama's president, but...

...some of his cabinet picks really make my head hurt.

I won't be harping on Geithner at the moment--others have done that, and I'll just note that I've got a list of people I'd replace him with in a heartbeat.

No, today I want to kick the Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, a "school reformer" and douchebag entitled white guy extraordinaire.

This New York Times article on the way the funds from the stimulus are being misappropriated, overfunding rich schools and underfunding poor ones (as per fucking usual) made me angry--which it was supposed to do. We already have a huge gap between the well-off school districts and the poor ones, and the idea that stimulus money is making that gap worse just hurts me.

The article explains how funds were allocated, and I do understand that they used existing formulas, as they say, because negotiating new ones would take months and school districts need the money now.

But this quote made me see red:

“In this case, people are just extraordinarily thankful for these unprecedented resources,” Mr. Duncan said in an interview. “So I’m aware of these disparities, but we’ve received zero complaints.”

Oh, that's right, Arne. Those poor people are just so happy for what they get, thank you, Mister Education Secretary, Sir. They wouldn't dare suggest that a school district whose chief says this:

“Out of the blue this money has dropped in, and it’s kind of a distraction,” Dr. Bailey said.

maybe could pass some of that "distraction" over to districts that badly need the funding, not to create jobs, but just to make sure they don't lose any more teachers than they already have.

When I was in college, waiting tables to pay my rent, I would constantly get asked what I was majoring in, what I was going to do. When I told people I was an English major, they immediately asked if I was going to teach. I would tell them no, sometimes laughingly adding that I made more money waitressing than I would teaching.

Funny, because it's true.

One of my favorite teachers in my South Carolina high school quit the year after I graduated to wait tables full-time because she made more money. "School reform" is fine--I don't have a problem with acknowledging that standardized public education isn't always the best way for kids to learn. What I despise is that what passes for innovation and merit-based reward systems means in actuality, teaching to the standardized tests and punishing the very schools that need help the most.

I don't teach, and I don't have or want kids. The closest I came to teaching public school kids was working with a nonprofit--in which I saw firsthand how creative, innovative methods can help kids get engaged with learning.

The fact that our education secretary seems willing to continue assuming that poor kids and poor school districts should be grateful for any handout the federal government is willing to toss their way makes me absolutely livid. This is NOT the change I worked for.