Arne Duncan's Success in Chicago Is Misleading

Test scores are going down, kids

By Steve Rhodes
|  Friday, Sep 18, 2009  |  Updated 8:38 AM CDT
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Chicago's Political Players

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U.S. President Barack Obama hired Arne Duncan as his Secretary of Education, but on what grounds?

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So much for the Arne Duncan era.

In what was supposed to be the first noteworthy evaluation of the Chicago Public Schools' High School Transformation project of better teacher training and a tougher curriculum, test scores went absolutely nowhere - and in some cases, down.

No wonder school offiicals didn't hold the usual press conference; they just posted the scores and slinked away.

This news follows earlier reports that the high test score claims Duncan and President Obama touted about were inflated.

In fact, a Civic Committee study concluded that Chicago Public Schools had made little progress since 2003.

Duncan become CEO of CPS in 2001. He has since, of course, been picked by Obama to run the U.S. Department of Education.

But the results of his performance in Chicago are still hazy.

In fact, given Mayor Richard M. Daley's usual hiring-and-firing cycles, Duncan might have been moved out if he hadn't moved up. After all, Daley has now installed Ron Huberman as a change agent to fix - yet again - CPS.

(Although exaggeration still seems to be in vogue at CPS, WBEZ reports that those record-breaking first day attendance figures are misleading, at best.)

How can we punish students who cheat when they learn how to do it so well from the adults who oversee them?

If Duncan and Huberman really wanted to be a change agents, they should have concentrated first on changing the M.O. to telling the truth.

Then we can talk about the classroom.

Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.

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