The Duncan Debacle: It’s Not (Just) about Duncan

radical eyes for equity

If Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has prompted outrage from a wide range of people, as Rebecca Klein reports, by invoking “white suburban moms,” as I have noted, the controversy is much more complex than “clumsy phrasing.”

I remain adamant about my concluding point concerning the racial components of Duncan’s comment and the responses to it: If white outrage is the only outrage that counts in the U.S., any victory won from that outrage is no victory at all.

But there is another component of the response that deserves the “conversation” Duncan claims he would like to see us embrace: Duncan is simultaneously the embodiment and the victim of a toxic combination of privilege, bureaucracy, and arrogance.

First, Duncan’s incompetence is no different than the incompetence exhibited by previous Secretaries, such as Margaret Spellings. Where has the outrage been about the national leaders of education having essentially no…

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