Matt Damon ‘really dissatisfied’ with Obama ‘doubling down’ on Bush’s ‘bad ideas’ for education

July 30, 2011

WASHINGTON, July 30 ( – Academy award-winning actor Matt Damon said he is “really dissatisfied” with the Obama Administration for “doubling down” on all of former President George W. Bush’s “bad ideas” in public education policy.

Damon was asked if he is satisfied with the education policies under President Barack Obama.

“No, it’s like a doubling down on all the bad ideas of the last administration – it’s really – I’m really dissatisfied which is why, you know, so are all these teachers, it’s why they came out here on a, you know, in the backyard of the President’s – for the first time in history to voice their displeasure with the direction that this policy has gone,” Damon said in an exclusive interview at the “Save Our Schools March” held across from the White House on Saturday, July 30.

Damon called the federal education law No Child Left Behind “punitive” for its focus on state test scores.

“The tests themselves end up kind of driving the curriculum. I mean, if your job depends on how well these twenty kids do on a test, I mean, you’re going to spend the better part of your job teaching those kids how to take that test and focusing on that test and you know, that doesn’t promote any kind of real learning,” said Damon, whose mother is a teacher and also appeared at the rally.

“It doesn’t get the kids excited about school or about learning and it doesn’t raise a generation of critical thinkers who are going to be the ones who solve the serious problems that this generation is going to leave for them.”

Obama’s Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, served as the chief executive officer of Chicago’s public schools but lacks professional teaching experience. Damon, who attended Harvard University but left to pursue a film career, blasted Duncan’s job performance, arguing that it has been like a Hollywood actor trying to design education policy.

“I’m very successful in a very competitive business, right? Very, very, maybe the most competitive industry in the country and I’ve got a lot of success and I’ve maintained that success for a long time, right? So, by any metric, I’m successful in my business, just as successful as Arne Duncan say, right? Should I run – should I like, design ED policy?” Damon asked.

“I mean, it’s totally absurd, right? So, why isn’t he inviting these brilliant people, the leading thinkers, I mean this is like a who’s who of education up here, they’re all outside Obama’s house, I mean this has got to be, it should be pretty embarrassing for the President. These are like the greatest thinkers in education in our country and they’re so disgusted that they’ve come out here on like a hundred degree day to stand outside his house and say, ‘stop what you’re doing.’”

He continued, “We need to do a lot better but you can’t cut out the teachers and the educators, the experts from the design of that policy.”