Arne Duncan: it takes a hurricane to fix Democratic education policy.

(Via a number of people out there) I’m not upset because Education Secretary Arne Duncan said this about the effects of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans education policy:

Martin was quoted as saying: “What’s amazing is New Orleans was devastated because of Hurricane Katrina, but because everything was wiped out, in essence, you are building from ground zero to change the dynamics of education in that city.”

Duncan was quoted as replying: “It’s a fascinating one. I spent a lot of time in New Orleans, and this is a tough thing to say, but let me be really honest. I think the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans was Hurricane Katrina. That education system was a disaster, and it took Hurricane Katrina to wake up the community to say that ‘we have to do better.’ And the progress that they’ve made in four years since the hurricane is unbelievable. They have a chance to create a phenomenal school district. Long way to go, but that — that city was not serious about its education. Those children were being desperately underserved prior, and the amount of progress and the amount of reform we’ve seen in a short amount of time has been absolutely amazing.”

…I’m angry because it’s true: it took a catastrophe to focus enough attention on New Orleans to make the local Democratic party’s tradition of malignant neglect too politically risky. The Republicans weren’t the ones who wrecked New Orleans’ schools in the first place; and if you expect us to be cheerful about the fact we’re doing well at cleaning up the mess that the Democrats made, well, don’t.

Moe Lane

PS: Yes, I to have noticed that a lot of people like to suddenly decide that partisanship in this sort of thing is unfair – once they realize that they’re on the wrong side of it.  Odd, no?

PPS: I see that my colleague Erick Erickson has raised a similar point.  But he’s slightly nicer about it.