What Right Does the US Department of Education Have to “Monitor” Diane Ravitch ?
August 18, 2013

I usually avoid the Huffington Post at all costs and will continue to do so until they begin to actually pay the writers whose labor is making its owners very rich, but I make an exception this morning due to information in an article that came to me in a sideways fashion via a fine post by Paul Thomas. In his post, Thomas eviscerates an adhominen attack on Diane Ravitch by one Peter Cunningham, former Assistant Secretary for Communications and Outreach, U.S. Department of Education under by Arne Duncan. The catalyst of Cunningham’s sophomoric attack is the soon to be published, eagerly anticipated and apparently just as eagerly feared new treatise, Reign of Error. Cunningham’s words are nothing but a preemptive attack on Ravitch’a person, which Thomas handily displays as utterly unfounded and barely meriting a response.

What should merit a response, however, is what Cunningham’s first sentence reveals about how the U.S. government apparently now routinely monitors its critics and pays people like Cunningham to do so. Consider only Cunningham’s opening sentence:

During the Obama administration’s first term, I served as Assistant Secretary for Communications and Outreach in the U.S. Department of Education, where one of my jobs was to monitor criticism of our policies and develop our responses. One of the people I monitored pretty closely was Diane Ravitch.

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