Arne Duncan in Pittsburgh, Selling Low Common Core Test Scores

Education Secretary Arne Duncan listens as President Barack Obama speaks about education during a lunch meeting with teachers
Education Secretary Arne Duncan listens as President Barack Obama speaks about education during a lunch meeting with teachers, Monday, July 7, 2014, in the Blue Room of the White House in Washington. The nation's largest teachers' union wants Duncan to quit. Delegates of the National Education Association adopted a business item July 4 at its annual convention in Denver that called for his resignation. The vote underscores the long standing tension between the Obama administration and teachers' unions _ historically a steadfast Democratic ally. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

On September 18, 2015, US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan stopped in Pittsburgh at private university, Carnegie Mellon, to promote Common Core and its tests.

During that visit, Duncan said that the signature low scores on Common Core tests did not mean that students were "less smart than they were six months ago or a year ago."

However, two years ago, in November 2013, Duncan said some mothers were indeed realizing that their kids weren't so smart:

It's fascinating to me that some of the pushback [toward Common Core] is coming from, sort of, white suburban moms who -- all of a sudden -- their child isn't as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn't quite as good as they thought they were....

Nevertheless, both in November 2013 and in September 2015, Duncan assures the public that the problem is with states' former, "lower" standards.

Yet Duncan offers no empirical evidence to support this statement to his Carnegie Mellon audience, as reported in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

The secretary said children and parents "were lied to and told they were on the track to be successful" when they weren't. He called that "one of the most insidious things that happened in education."

And yet, Duncan's own legacy as Chicago Public Schools CEO left test score results that show that Chicago students under him might have already been "lied to" by a Duncan who by 2009 had moved on to the White House-and to actively promoting Common Core and its tests. As the December 2009 Washington Post reports:

Soon after Arne Duncan left his job as schools chief here to become one of the most powerful U.S. education secretaries ever, his former students sat for federal achievement tests. This month, the mathematics report card was delivered: Chicago trailed several cities in performance and progress made over six years.

Miami, Houston and New York had higher scores than Chicago on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Boston, San Diego and Atlanta had bigger gains. Even fourth-graders in the much-maligned D.C. schools improved nearly twice as much since 2003.

The federal readout is just one measure of Duncan's record as chief executive of the nation's third-largest system. Others show advances on various fronts. But the new math scores signal that Chicago is nowhere near the head of the pack in urban school improvement, even though Duncan often cites the successes of his tenure as he crusades to fix public education. [Emphasis added.]

Duncan will sell what is convenient to sell in the moment. And right now, his product of choice is the low Common Core test score.

Another notable issue is that Duncan enrolled his own children in school in Virginia, which is not a Common Core state.

Does that mean he is lying to himself and telling himself that his sans-Common-Core children are on track to be successful- defying via his personal life the Duncan-declared Common Core Guarantee?

Perhaps he is simply revealing what Bill Gates admitted in March 2014 when asked if he wanted Common Core for his own children.

Gates responded that he wanted "more."

But both Gates and Duncan would sell Common Core to the masses.

According to the Post-Gazette, Duncan also asserts that students needing to take remedial courses in college as "proof that the old standards didn't work" (Post-Gazette paraphrase of Duncan).

Duncan offers no empirical evidence establishing a direct connection between state standards and college remediation rates, and he offers no empirical evidence that Common Core and its necessary tests will reduce college remediation rates.

He simply declares it to be so. Duncan declares Common Core as higher; he declares the cause-effect relationship between state standards and college remediation rates; he declares Common Core as superior, and he declares that lower scores on Common Core tests will directly and assuredly translate into reduced college remediation rates.

Of course, his US secretary of education days are numbered, and he will not have to answer for any of his pompous declarations.

And his kids, now attending the University of Chicago Lab School, will face no low scores on Common Core tests, for once again, there is no Common Core at the school they attend.

Ahh, the duplicity of the privileged Common Core promoter.

Originally posted 09-19-15 at

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who's Who In the Implosion of American Public Education.


She also has a second book, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?, published on June 12, 2015.