Politico's Stephanie Simon Twice Claims Arne Duncan Apologized for 'White Suburban Moms' Remark; No He Didn't

I don't want to go overboard here, but most of the print establishment press deserves a bit of grudging credit in the Arne Duncan "white suburban moms" controvery.

Most of them aren't characterizing the gutless attempt by Barack Obama's education secretary to back away from his spiteful, condescending, bigoted comment Friday as an apology — because it wasn't. In a Monday post at the Department of Educations's Homeroom blog (how courageous — not), Duncan only admitted that "I used some clumsy phrasing that I regret," and that "I singled out one group of parents when my aim was to say that we need to communicate better to all groups," while repeating many of the tired lies which have accompanied Common Core's imposition from its inception. There was no admission of wrongdoing, and nothing resembling an "I'm sorry." Predictably, Stephanie Simon at the Politico was among those who considered Duncan's dumbness an apology (links are in original; bolds are mine throughout this post):


Arne Duncan apologizes for ‘clumsy phrasing’ of ‘white moms’ remark

ArneDuncanWide

Education Secretary Arne Duncan apologized this evening for using “clumsy phrasing that I regret” when talking about opponents of the Common Core academic standards.

Duncan told a gathering of state superintendents of education on Friday that “white suburban moms” were upset because their kids were doing poorly on new, more rigorous exams linked to Common Core. “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 … and that’s pretty scary,” Duncan said. The remark kicked off a firestorm of protest, including a Moms Against Duncan page on Facebook and a petition calling for Duncan’s ouster.

In a blog post on the department website, Duncan said when he mentioned the white suburban moms, he had been trying to “encourage a difficult conversation and challenge the underlying assumption that when we talk about the need to improve our nation’s schools, we are only talking about poor minority students in inner cities.” On the contrary, he said, “every demographic group has room for improvement.”

A Monday afternoon story by Simon claimed that Duncan "formally apologized on an Education Department blog Monday." Sorry, ma'am; he did no such thing, and it's not arguable.

Lyndsey Layton at the Washington Post only went as far as calling Dunan's post an attempt "to quell the outrage."

Philip Elliott at the Associated Press, while incorrectly describing Common Core, directly asserted that Duncan did not apologize:

DUNCAN REGRETS 'WHITE SUBURBAN MOMS' COMMENT

Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Monday said he regretted his "clumsy phrasing" in singling out white suburban moms for opposing new higher academic standards.

Duncan has consistently shown little patience for critics of the Common Core State Standards, being implemented in 45 states and the District of Columbia. But his remarks, as reported by Politico, went a step further and add (sic) elements of race and class.

... In a late-Monday posting on the Education Department's website, Duncan said "every demographic group has room for improvement."

... Duncan did not apologize and his statement was unlikely to quiet the outcry from his strongest critics, many of them online where anti-Common Core activists have organized.

Conservative columnist Michelle Malkin called Duncan a "corrupt and bankrupt bigot" for his remarks. American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten said Duncan "really doesn't get it." Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, tweeted that Duncan "should be fired for dismissing (hashtag)CommonCore critics as just white suburban moms with dumb kids."

At the White House, spokesman Jay Carney said he hadn't seen Duncan's full comments or spoken with President Barack Obama about them. But Carney seemed to defend Duncan's sentiment.

"I can just tell you that the secretary of education and everybody on the president's team dedicated to this effort is focused on making sure that we do everything we can, working with states and others to ensure that our kids are getting the education they need for the 21st century," Carney said.

Elliott's breezy assumption that Common Core is about "higher academic standards" is garbage.

Michelle Malkin has summed it up perfectly: "In practice, Common Core’s dubious “college-ready” and “career-ready” standards undermine local control of education, usurp state autonomy over curricular materials, and foist untested, mediocre, and incoherent pedagogical theories on America’s schoolchildren."

Duncan's shot at "white suburban moms" is a transparent and from all appearances failed attempt to divide Common Core's opposition. As Malkin wrote yesterday ("A brown-skinned suburban mom responds to Common Core bigot Arne Duncan"):

As a brown-skinned suburban mom opposed to Common Core, I can tell you I’ve personally met moms and dads of ALL races, of ALL backgrounds, and from ALL parts of the country, who have sacrificed to get their kids into the best schools possible. They are outraged that dumbed-down, untested federal “standards” pose an existential threat to their excellent educational arrangements — be they public, private, religious, or homeschooling.

Duncan’s derision betrays the very control-freak impulses that drive Common Core. He presumes that only technocratic elites in Washington can determine what quality standards and curricula look like.

Exactly. After all, they've done such a great job in so many other arenas: health care, the economy, Social Security, fiscal management ... (/sarc)

If Duncan had substituted "African-American inner-city moms" in his statement, he'd be already gone. Why is his attack on "white suburban moms" less unacceptable?

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.