We have a new “Objects of the class,” and it’s a good one!
Here’s what happened. I came across a thoughtful discussion by Mark Palko of how it was that Secretary of Education Arne Duncan ticked off so many people with his recent remarks about “white suburban moms”:
To understand why Duncan hit such a nerve, you need to consider the long and complicated role that racial politics have played in this debate.
The public face of the education reform movement has always been pictures of eager young African-American and Hispanic children. Not only has the movement been sold as a way of helping these children but people who object to parts of the reform agenda have often been accused, implicitly or explicitly, of not wanting to help children of color. . . . For starters, with certain notable exceptions, the leaders of the reform movement tend to be white or Asian . . . By comparison, the tenured and/or unionized teachers who have paid the highest price in terms of policy changes and school closures have been disproportionately African-American. Under these circumstances, you can imagine the reaction when education reformers make statements like “I think the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans was Hurricane Katrina.” . . .
Did Duncan really say that??? Apparently he did. I followed Palko’s link to a full-on rant from Gary Rubinstein, who had a few other horrible Duncanisms to go with the Katrina remark. My favorite, as a statistician, was this one:
I see extraordinary schools where 95 percent of children live below the poverty line, where 95 percent are graduating, and 90 percent of those who graduate are going on to college.
This is from the September 2009 NEA Today magazine, in which Duncan attempts to answer questions from teachers. Since then, the claims of the 90-90-90 schools (or 95-95-90 schools, in this case) have been challenged so much that we rarely hear about them anymore.
A prominent figure who refers to Hurricane Katrina as a good thing is, of course, widely disliked on the left.
It should also be no surprise that Duncan, who, after all, is an appointee of Barack Obama, is disliked on the right as well. If you don’t believe me, just google *arne duncan communist*.
It’s Larry time!
And that’s where Mr. Summers comes in. As regular blog readers know, the one thing Starbucks and Lawrence Summers have in common, beyond containing large doses of caffeine, is that they are widely disliked on the left and the right.
And, when I talk about disliked, I’m not just saying that Larry is a dislikable, Barry Bonds kind of guy. Rather, it really seems like people on the left dislike Summers for being so conservative, and people on the right dislike him for being so liberal.
Objects of the class “Lawrence Summers”
OK, so here’s my official definition. An object is in the class “Lawrence Summers” if it is despised on the left for holding silly right-wing attitudes and simultaneously despised on the right for holding silly left-wing attitudes. (It’s important for the dislike to be simultaneous. It’s not enough to be a left-winger who is despised by the right and then, a few years later, take a hard right turn and get hated by the other side. You have to be hated by both sides, for opposite reasons, at the same time.)
Arne Duncan, like Starbucks, is in the class “Lawrence Summers.”