….I can kinda, sorta live with the Secretary of Education putting in a good word for certain people. I’m not crazy about it, but it’s human nature and a decent impulse to support colleagues, friends, and protégés. And, if Duncan is asked for his take on a handful of candidates, putting in a good word about X and not Y obviously gets into a gray area of dissing Y. While the line may be vague, however, the distinction is still important. Put simply, I have a big problem with Duncan, while wearing the mantle of the Secretary’s office, going out of his way to stop Starr from getting hired…
Can’t let the facts get in the way of a good political attack! As publicly reported by a fierce Duncan critic the Duncan conversation about Starr was in the context of a conversation about multiple candidates, there is no evidence Duncan “went out of his way” to stop Starr from getting hired (and Starr was apparently offered the #2 slot but decided that wasn’t for him). And there is no evidence Duncan did any of this while inappropriately using the “mantle” of his office even implicitly.
Duncan’s clearly made some missteps during his tenure (as anyone would, it’s a complicated job) and dabbled in politics (Rick Perry, pink-slip Gate) in ways he probably wishes he hadn’t. Right now he’s presiding over the biggest roll back of accountability for underserved students in more than two decades – something that, ironically, Starr is on board with. But on this one Duncan’s clean. And the only way to imply he’s not is to twist the fact pattern with unsupported claims.
Reassuring to know you can go away for a week and nothing changes.