Tuesday, July 26, 2016

IF HILLARY WINS, THEN WHAT FOR K-12 PUBLIC EDUCATION?

I read NYC Educator's latest post closely. Arthur makes a strong case that the AFT and Democratic National Committee being joined at the hip is not necessarily in the best interest of working teachers who the AFT is supposed to represent. The Democrats have done very little for public school teachers or students during the Obama years at the federal level. I would add that they haven't done much for public education during the Cuomo and de Blasio years at the state or city level either.

Why then do we continue to blindly support Democrats?

Arthur and I have a mutual friend in Harris Lirtzman. Harris is someone we both respect who is a Hillary Clinton supporter. He commented on Arthur's blog and speculated on who Hillary might appoint as Secretary of Education. Here is part of his comment:

...if Clinton is elected, I don't assume that she'll appoint a Duncan-King to be Secretary of Education. She has to strike a very careful balance between the enormous support she's received by the AFT and NEA (yes, you don't like that) and reformistas in a way that Obama never had to. My guess is that she'd appoint a Hammond-Darling kind of secretary and steer very far away from D-K lite. Just a guess but I would make no assumptions that with Clinton we get any version of D-K.

I hope and pray Harris is correct. I am skeptical that we will see any substantive change nationally for teachers or public schools under Hillary. The Clintons are the embodiment of the establishment. They are part of a political class that has not been kind to public school teachers.

On the other hand, there is room for optimism in the K-12 education part of the Democratic Party Platform. I read it today and here is my favorite paragraph:

We oppose high-stakes standardized tests that falsely and unfairly label students of color, students with disabilities and English Language Learners as failing; the use of standardized test scores as basis for refusing to fund schools or to close schools; and the use of student test scores in teacher and principal evaluations, a practice which has been repeatedly rejected by researchers. We support enabling parents to opt their children out of standardized tests without penalty for either the student or their school. 

Have Democrats Barrack Obama or Andrew Cuomo been given a copy of this paragraph? How about Secretary of Education John King?

Platforms don't ordinarily mean that much in the USA but this one isn't bad on public education except for the support for "public charter schools." Public and charter school is an oxymoron. A public school needs to be accountable to the public. Charters are not accountable in so many ways as the Network for Public Education's Carol Burris pointed out. I oppose charter schools.

I am very worried about Hillary's foreign policy but on education the Democratic Platform at least is way ahead of the Trump Republicans who public school teachers would have to be kind of self-loathing to support.

For those interested in reading the full Democratic platform, it can be found at the bottom of a piece in Education Week.

Below are the parts on K-12 education in their entirety.

 Guaranteeing Universal Preschool and Good Schools for Every Child 

Democrats believe we must have the best-educated population and workforce in the world. That means making early childhood education and universal preschool a priority, especially in light of new research showing how much early learning can impact life-long success. 

Democrats will invest in early childhood programs like Early Head Start and provide every family in America with access to high-quality childcare and high-quality preschool programs. We support efforts to raise wages for childcare workers, and to ensure that early childhood educators are experienced and high-quality. 

We will ensure there are great schools for every child no matter where they live. Democrats know the federal government must play a critical role in making sure every child has access to a world-class education. We believe that a strong public education system is an anchor of our democracy, a propeller of the economy, and the vehicle through which we help all children achieve their dreams. Public education must engage students to be critical thinkers and civic participants while addressing the wellbeing of the whole child.

We also support increased investments in afterschool and summer learning programs, which help working families, keep kids safe, and inspire learning at a time when many students are left unsupervised. We must find ways to encourage mentoring programs that support students in reaching their full potential. Mentoring is a strategy to ensure that children living in poverty have the encouragement and support to aim high and enter the middle class. We will focus on group mentoring, which is a low-cost, high-yield investment that offers the benefit of building a supportive network of peers who push one another towards success.

Democrats believe all students should be taught to high academic standards. Schools should have adequate resources to provide programs and support to help meet the needs of every child. We will hold schools, districts, communities, and states accountable for raising achievement levels for all students—particularly low-income students, students of color, English Language Learners, and students with disabilities. 

We must fulfill our national commitment to provide a meaningful education to students with disabilities, and work towards full funding of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act so that students with disabilities can receive the extra resources and services they need. With an appropriate educational foundation, children with disabilities can thrive and become adults with greater opportunities and more meaningful life experiences.

We are also deeply committed to ensuring that we strike a better balance on testing so that it informs, but does not drive, instruction. To that end, we encourage states to develop a multiple measures approach to assessment, and we believe that standardized tests must be reliable and valid. We oppose high-stakes standardized tests that falsely and unfairly label students of color, students with disabilities and English Language Learners as failing; the use of standardized test scores as basis for refusing to fund schools or to close schools; and the use of student test scores in teacher and principal evaluations, a practice which has been repeatedly rejected by researchers. We support enabling parents to opt their children out of standardized tests without penalty for either the student or their school. 

Democrats recognize and honor all the professionals who work in public schools to support students' education—teachers, education support professionals, and specialized staff. We know that good teachers are essential to improving student learning and helping all students to meet high academic standards. Democrats will launch a national campaign to recruit and retain high quality teachers. We will ensure that teachers receive the tools and ongoing professional development they need to succeed in the classroom and provide our children with a world-class education. We also must lift up and trust our educators, continually build their capacity, and ensure that our schools are safe, welcoming, collaborative, and well-resourced places for our students, educators, and communities.

We will invest in high-quality STEAM classes, community schools, computer science education, arts education, and expand link learning models and career pathways. We will end the school-to prison pipeline by opposing discipline policies which disproportionately affect African Americans and Latinos, Native Americans and Alaska Natives, students with disabilities, and youth who identify as LGBT. We will support the use of restorative justice practices that help students and staff resolve conflicts peacefully and respectfully while helping to improve the teaching and learning environment. And we will work to improve school culture and combat bullying of all kinds.

The Democratic Party is committed to eliminating opportunity gaps—particularly those that lead to students from low-income communities arriving on day one of kindergarten several years behind their peers. This means advocating for labor and public assistance laws that ensure poor parents can spend time with their children. This means raising household incomes in poor communities.

It means ensuring children have health care, stable housing free of contaminants, and a community free of violence in order to minimize the likelihood of cognitive delays. It means enriching early childhood programming to prepare children in areas such as literacy, numeracy, civic engagement, and emotional intelligence. It means supporting equitable and adequate state funding for public education, and expanding Title I funding for schools that serve a large number or high concentration of children in poverty. It means ending curriculum gaps that maintain and exacerbate achievement gaps. 

We support policies that motivate rather than demoralize our educators. We are committed to ensuring that schools that educate children in poverty are not treated unfairly, which is why we will end the test-and-punish version of accountability that does no more than reveal the many opportunity gaps facing students from low-income communities. 

Democrats are committed to providing parents with high-quality public school options and expanding these options for low-income youth. We support democratically governed, great neighborhood public schools and high-quality public charter schools, and we will help them disseminate best practices to other school leaders and educators. Democrats oppose for-profit charter schools focused on making a profit off of public resources. We believe that high-quality public charter schools should provide options for parents, but should not replace or destabilize traditional public schools. Charter schools must reflect their communities, and thus must accept and retain proportionate numbers of students of color, students with disabilities and English Language Learners in relation to their neighborhood public schools. We support increased transparency and accountability for all charter schools. 


Here is a part of what the Republicans have to say on education in their platform:

Administrators need flexibility to innovate and to hold accountable all those responsible for student performance. A good understanding of the Bible being indispensable for the development of an educated citizenry, we encourage state legislatures to offer the Bible in a literature curriculum as an elective in America’s high schools. We urge school districts to make use of teaching talent in the business community, STEM fields, and the military, especially among our returning veterans. Rigid tenure systems should be replaced with a merit-based approach in order to attract the best talent to the classroom. All personnel who interact with school children should pass background checks and be held to the highest standards of personal conduct. 

More power for administrators? Are the Republicans serious?

I guess after reading some of the Republican Platform, I can understand a little more clearly why so many people blindly follow the Democrats.

3 comments:

Hina Khan said...

The Democratic Party is committed to eliminating opportunity gaps—particularly those that lead to students from low-income communities arriving on day one of kindergarten several years behind their peers.

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James Eterno said...

But is the Democratic Party still interested in closing schools and firing teachers?

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