In a Bloomberg Television interview, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said that he feels “very very badly for the children” of Texas, pointing to problems in the Lone Star state’s school system. Secretary Duncan elaborated: “Far too few of their high school graduates are actually prepared to go on to college.”
But by this standard, Secretary Duncan should feel “very very badly” — if not horribly — for the children of Chicago, where he served as school chief from 2001 to 2009. According to a 2009 America’s Promise Alliance study, the high-school graduation rate in Chicago Public Schools was 51 percent. When Arne Duncan was in charge, the average student in the Windy City had only a fifty-fifty chance of even graduating, let alone going to college.
To be sure, comparing Chicago to Texas isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison. And parents and taxpayers in both school systems should be disappointed by the status quo — too few children are being given a world-class education and the opportunity to reach their potential. That’s why significant reforms that change the fundamentally flawed structure of our K–12 public education systems are desperately needed country-wide.
But before joining in the Obama administration’s preemptive campaign against Governor Perry, Arne Duncan should reflect on the grade-school lesson that people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.