Archive for Arne Duncan

Thank a Teacher...and a Nurse or Healthcare Worker, Public Defender or Public Employee



I had no idea the American Federation of Teachers represented so many of the people whose work is in helping people until I arrived in Los Angeles for the 2014 AFT Convention on Friday. But I sat in the opening session, with the powerful Rev. Dr. William Barber (more about him in a moment) and the electric president of the AFT Randi Weingarten, and saw a huge contingent of nurses waving their flags.

I learned that the AFT, whose numbers have swelled to over 1.6 million members, represent five constituencies:

And I'm glad to hear it. We live in the era of union vilification. But the people who work in the professions listed above have one thing in common: their devotion to public service.

Most of the people in those professions aren't in it for the huge financial rewards. Once you stop laughing, realize that there is a bigger motivator than the almighty dollar-- on their end They do these jobs to help others.

Yet Corporate America™ keeps pulling funding from public education and the public sector in general, claiming that the private sector can do it better. But they're just keeping a big chunk of the dollars that should be spent on educating our kids to plump up their own bottom lines, and certainly aren't getting better results.

The Rev. Dr. William Barber, head of the NC NAACP and the man behind the Moral Mondays movement that began in Raleigh, spoke in the opening session Friday morning, and in a moving, fiery speech, explained the attack on public education and laid out the Moral Agenda we must embrace and organize around to fight back.

Amazing, huh? (Rev. Barber will also be speaking at Netroots Nation, and will sit for an interview with me following his speech, to air Friday morning!)

David Dayen at Salon wrote about the divide in the Democratic Party, evidenced by a no confidence vote in Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and in the formation of a new organization, led by Democratic Party operative Donna Brazille and former governors Granholm of Michigan and Strickland of Ohio, called Democrats for Public Education.

The internal war among Democrats over education policy escalated another notch this weekend at the annual convention of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) union in Los Angeles. Delegates savaged the “education reform” agenda as a corporate-led threat to “everything we hold dear.” And three high-profile party stalwarts announced the formation of Democrats for Public Education, to contest the reform agenda with a public-centered alternative. We’re likely to see proxy fights between these opposing forces for years to come.

...DNC vice-chair and frequent commentator Donna Brazile, who addressed the convention Sunday. “I am ashamed of some of Democrats in my own party,” said Brazile in a feisty speech that received multiple standing ovations. “We’re not going to be silent while you are being attacked.”

Please read the rest of Dayen's article as it's a great recap of what happened at the convention this weekend - and he'll be on my show to discuss it this morning.

Speaking of the show, I have to get ready for that, so below are the two shows I did from AFT14, featuring teachers, delegates, healthcare worker and others represented by AFT, talking about the issues I've already mentioned as well as one of the big topics for debate, Common Core.


"Vast majority" of House Democrats are with V.P. Biden on marriage equality


Vice President Joe Biden said he’s “absolutely comfortable” with marriage equality, and Education Secretary Arne Duncan didn't mince words: He is for same-sex marriage.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa even endorsed including a same-sex marriage plank in the national party platform.

Today, according to The Hill, Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.) said that there are “mixed views” among House Democrats....

“But a vast majority of our caucus is where Biden is."

With so many groups and prominent individuals openly supporting marriage equality, and polls showing that more and more Americans agree, more pressure is being exerted to add it to the 2012 platform... which puts the president in the uncomfortable position of either frustrating gay rights voters or their opponents.

Fred Sainz, vice president for communications at the Human Rights Campaign:

If not for Obama’s reluctance, he said, “this would be something that would sail into the platform.”

Just say yes, Mr. President.


VIDEO: Education Secretary Arne Duncan supports marriage equality


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Yesterday, V.P. Joe Biden said he's "absolutely comfortable" with marriage equality. Happily, he has company. On MSNBC's "Morning Joe,"  Education Secretary Arne Duncan was asked if he supports same-sex marriage, and he replied: "Yes, I do."

According to the latest CNN/ORC International Poll, a majority of Americans (53%) believe marriages between gay or lesbian couples should be recognized as valid, while 45% disagree with the notion.

"I do." Not only the best answer he could have given, but the choice of words was ironically spot on.


Eradicating a BushCo Stain: Dep't. of Education repealing "gender equity" in sports law


By GottaLaff

Another day, another sewage removal effort. Eradicating ugly BushCo stains will take years, since they left so much toxic waste lying around. How many metaphors was that? Two? Three? But who's counting? Bygones.

But that's not important now. What is important is this:

The U.S. Department of Education is repealing a Bush-era policy that some critics argue was a way to avoid complying with federal law in providing equal opportunities for female athletes.

Under the move, schools and colleges must now provide stronger evidence that they offer equal opportunities for athletic participation under the federal Title IX gender equity law.

The Bushies allowed schools to simply use a survey as proof that a new women's sport failed to garner support. If there wasn't much response to the survey, BushCo pointed, laughed, and said, "See? There not interested! Nyah nyah!"

Arne Duncan is "nyah nyahing" now. He happens to respect-- What's it called again? Oh yeah-- civil rights.

Vice President Biden is doing a little neener-nannering of his own:

"Making Title IX as strong as possible is a no-brainer. [...] What we're doing here today will better ensure equal opportunity in athletics and allowing women to realize their potential — so this nation can realize its potential."

So how did that avoidy discriminate-y thing work out for ya, BushCo?

Researchers say the share of women participating in athletics increased only incrementally under Bush, even as female student enrollment increased.

And why is this important?

Nancy Hogshead-Makar, a law professor and senior director for advocacy with the Women's Sports Foundation, said female participation in sports is the most effective remedy against obesity and leads to more education and better employment prospects.

Not to mention better health.

And speaking of women's rights, please take a look at the latest Blunt video about equal pay for women.