The National Review and The Independent are both commenting, with predictably different takes, on U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan's criticism of Wake County schools.
In a post this morning on the conservative National Review Online, Roger Clegg says Duncan has committed "three strikes" in his Washington Post letter criticizing Wake's elimination of the diversity policy.
Clegg says "strike one" is that it shows that Duncan has "prejudged" the NAACP complaint that the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights is investigating against Wake.
Clegg says "strike two" is Duncan's contention that less racial diversity in schools will have bad educational and social outcomes. Clegg says that "school boards can legitimately conclude that the social and monetary costs of race-based student assignments outweigh (any positive effects)."
Clegg says "strike three" is that if Wake's diversity policy was intended to achieve "particular racial results, that would raise serious problems under the federal civil-rights laws that Secretary Duncan is supposed to be enforcing."
"In sum, Secretary Duncan’s letter indicates that he believes that children should be assigned to schools on the basis of their skin color, in order to achieve a particular politically correct racial balance," Clegg writes. "This is racial discrimination, and it is quite at odds with the dream of Dr. King — the memory of whom Duncan ironically invokes — that children not be judged by the color of their skin."
In contrast, today's online post for the liberal Independent weekly has Bob Geary saying that school board member John Tedesco should refrain in the future from citing Duncan's efforts in Chicago to justify his positions.
"John Tedesco, who frequently speaks for the school board majority (or lately, for the majority minus Debra Goldman), often references Duncan's support for charter schools and other innovations as somehow supportive of Tedesco's anti-diversity opinions," Geary writes. "They're not. Duncan offers them as methods to improve FAILING BIG-CITY SCHOOL SYSTEMS LIKE THE ONE HE USED TO LEAD IN CHICAGO.
Wake's schools, of course, are not a big-city system and are not failing — facts that never deter Tedesco, however, from claiming some policy kinship with the Secretary of Education."
Wake County school board member John Tedesco said he was disappointed in both Duncan's criticism of the school system and in Wednesday's article in The Washington Post. Tedesco said he still considers himself to be a fan of Duncan's education reform efforts, such as merit pay for teachers and community schools.
"I'm disappointed because I'm so highly supportive of him," Tedesco said. "I'm disappointed that he didn't reach out to us before making comments based on a skewed media report."
New Wake County Superintendent Anthony Tata said he was surprised to see Duncan express an opinion on such a local issue.