Education Reform

The Democratic Party Platform: A Teacher in a Rural School Comments

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Diane Ravitch has forward a draft of the Democratic Party’s platform for the coming convention. I must remember that it is just a draft and not the final iteration.

Even with the DRAFT stamp on each page, it contains tried and true words that mom couldn’t disagree with.

The education section is strange in its placement. Of the thirteen sections of the draft, education is listed at number 7. No, the listings are not in any alphabetical order. I would take that as a priority setting plain and simple.

Pre-K and K-12 are the last listing in the education section. Besides all of the traditional bromides about how important education is, there is a thread of division of public education into a number of parts. There are high quality community schools that will be high quality no matter what their zip code. It appears that the folks who wrote these lines are not in the twenty-first century, but are locked in the verbiage of the 1980’s and 90’s. There appear to be no specific suggestions as to how we will achieve this end. That was a problem then and is still a problem.

There are not for profit public charter schools. Those schools are approved to help elevate our children’s performance. Somehow we will see to it that those schools will give parents a choice of two good options.

The next grouping of schools are the for profit public charterschools. In these cases we will make them transparent and hold them accountable.They should not be cheating the public out of taxpayer funds. Does anyone really believe that the federal government has the capacity to close down such horrible places? It is my understanding that the word education does not appear in the federal constitution.

The draft intones some of the world shaking promises that they (the Democratic Party) will end such things as the school to prison pipeline, stop bullying, recruit good teachers, give teachers the resources they need to improve education. Since poverty is a critical element in the education of our children, will we eliminate poverty? In fact, how are we going to do all of these things? Have any of these folks stepped into a public school recently? Have they seen the marvelous things being done in a well resourced school and conversely have they seen a school where there are no chemistry labs, few pieces of technology and a staff that turns over every year? Have they seen a school where the turnover in students is 85% from the beginning of the year to the end of school?

Please, no more falderal from another era. Race to the Top did very little good. Stop giving billions to hedge fund managers who run for-profit public charter schools. Get down in the nitty gritty of teaching children- safe environment, excellent teaching, proper resources and good leadership. That’s about it for a k-12 platform.

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