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Chicago: Why Didn’t Arne Duncan Use the Lab School as a Model for Reform?

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Author: dianeravitch

This is one of the enduring questions of our age. Arne Duncan attended the University of Chicago Lab School and so do his children, as well as the children of Barack Obama and Rahm Emanuel. When he was tapped to be CEO of the Chicago Public Schools, why didn’t he strive to make public schools as rich in curriculum and opportunities as the Lab School? Why didn’t he take what he knew and experienced and carry that knowledge to the U.S. Department of Education? That would have been not just “reform,” it would have been revolutionary.

I earlier posted this article on a Chicago blog about Arne’s decision to send his children to the Lab School. This is a decision that I do not criticize, by the way, as I think parents should choose any school they wish, as long as they are willing to pay the price for a non-public education. But I do wish that Arne had applied or at least tried to apply the Lab School principles to his “reform” agenda.

A reader who followed the comments pointed this one out to me:

STAN HOLLENBECK:
“Arne Duncan is a tool, and has been from the
beginning when he was appointed here.

“I don’t know if the Lab School has a legacy
program, but this is the same school from
which (Duncan) graduated. He was appointed
at the time I was still director of the City
Council’s Legislative Reference Bureau, and
I made it a point to meet him in the
hallway before his appointment hearing.

“As I shook his hand, I said I’m glad that,
since he was a Lab School graduate, we
finally got someone who has experienced
what good education should be, and there’s
no real reason that schools like the Lab
School can’t be models for real reform.

“He stared at me as though he’d been shot,
and never spoke another word to me again.”

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