U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is in Austin, where he was a keynote speaker at South by Southwest’s second annual SXSWedu conference. But Duncan also took time today to speak to a crowd at Austin Community College’s Eastview campus for a “town hall” discussion on education issues.
But once applause greeting Ducan settled, he received a more abrupt welcome: Three Occupy Austin members stood and shouted out a prepared statement attacking the privatization of public schools and other educational grievances.
The "mic check" can be read on Occupy Austin Twitter magnet Kit O'Connell's website. It reads in part (emphasis in original): "As Secretary of Education, Your job is to discover a way to provide schools & teachers PUBLIC resources & funding, NOT from private charters & corporations."
Nationally, Duncan and the Obama administration’s “Race to the Top” educational program has been opposed by educational groups and teachers unions opposed to the program’s performance-based standards, emphasis on testing and openness to charter schools.
Locally, Occupy Austin has worked closely with opponents of IDEA Public Schools. In December, the Austin ISD school board approved a controversial contract with IDEA to offer programs at Allan Elementary and Eastside Memorial High School, both in East Austin.