December 17, 2008

Okay, it's Arne Duncan. Back to the substance already, willya?

The following is one of those trick questions you should never answer: Was Arne Duncan appointed because he's a cipher/Rorschach test for those with an axe to grind in national education politics, or is he an appointee primarily because of his personal and political connections? In between other tasks, I've been reading the comments flying past at half the speed of light, and after the most sensible and well-grounded supporting piece I've seen yet (disclosure: I'm a sometimes contributor to the blog), I've been reminded of Stephen Carter's response when asked if he ever benefited from affirmative action: so what?

So what if he's a policy cipher? He won't be making decisions by himself, and if anyone has a bully pulpit on education, it's going to be Duncan's boss. What matters is the collective decision-making, including the debate over the hard decisions to be taken with NCLB. 

So what if his appointment is far more closely tied to networking than many of the other Cabinet appointees? He'll now be in a far more public and less insulated role than as aide to Paul Vallas or the CPS head serving at the pleasure of Richard Daley. He'll rise or fall on his own merits, at this point.

As I wrote six weeks ago, let's move on to some discussion that is less personality-based.

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Posted in Accountability Frankenstein on December 17, 2008 1:14 PM |