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Why do the Democrats suck on education?

September 26, 2012

Romney on education. For the right of teachers to strike. Against Common Core.

Brother Mike represents the feelings many of us have when it comes to the Obama administration’s education policies.

Today he comments on his Small Talk blog about the awful Obama interview with Savannah Guthrie on Education Nation.

After some double-talk and a few rhetorical bones thrown to AFT and NEA leaders about not relying “completely” on standardized tests (only mainly on them), Obama tells us with a straight face that “teachers have embraced the idea of merit pay.” Is he serious? Did he even read the papers about Chicago and how 30,000 city teachers united like fingers in a fist to beat back Rahm’s failed merit-pay mandate?

This reminds me of IEA Executive Director Audrey Soglin’s absurd claim that Illinois’ Senate Bill 7 was “teacher-led reform.”

They just make this shit up.

The question I keep getting asked is why are the Democrats so bad on education issues? Why is there no attempt to distinguish themselves from the Republicans on this issue. They at least pay lip service to differences for electoral purposes on other issues?

My answer is not fully developed, to be sure. But in an odd way I think they do distinguish themselves from the Republicans on education.

When Mitt appeared on Education Nation (by the way, that NBC series is just the most depressing to watch) he basically argued for no federal role in education at all. For example, he says there should be no federal support for Common Core.

“You know, I think it’s fine for people to lay out what they think core subjects might be and to suggest a pedagogy and being able to provide that learning to our kids,” Romney said. “I don’t subscribe to the idea of the federal government trying to push a common core on various states. It’s one thing to put it out as a model and let people adopt it as they will, but to financially reward states based upon accepting the federal government’s idea of a curriculum, I think, is a mistake. And the reason I say that is that there may be a time when the government has an agenda that it wants to promote.”

And in the same interview he chided Secretary of Education Arne Duncan for pushing a “national curriculum,” although he added that he likes that the Obama administration has championed new teacher-evaluation systems and prodded states to expand charter schools through Race to the Top.

It appears that the GOP that the Tea Party conservatives have gained control over is a party that says it wants no federal role in education at all. It wants no Department of Education.

In the sixties, federal education policy stood in opposition to racist states’ rights school segregation laws. Now the Democrat’s federal policies seem to have morphed into policies that are driven by the corporate agenda.

Even George Bush’s No Child Left Behind was more Ted Kennedy than George Bush.

If you’re a rich hedge fund manager and want to steer federal policy toward’s the corporate agenda, would you set up a Republicans for Education Reform?  I don’t think so. If for no other reasons than the practical ones.  You would give your millions to the Democrats. They are the ones who actually want to impact national education policy.

Thoughts?

12 Comments leave one →
  1. Elaine Hopkins permalink
    September 26, 2012 11:04 am

    The Demos are whores and want the corporate money. Campaign contributions. The corporate types have 2 motives. They want the tax money in education, and they have weird ideological ideas about education, based on nothing but their fantasies.

    End of story.

    Elaine Hopkins

  2. Sig Lisowski permalink
    September 26, 2012 11:48 am

    Charter schools, merit pay, test based evaluations all BS enlisted to hide the irresponsible leadership in education. Our educational system just like our political system, our defense system, our social services delivery system, our health-care etc. all can be made better and all are inter-related. But until we have people that are true responsible civic leaders, in decision making positions, we will only “play” at being concerned about these issues. Our systems seem to favor the self-serving. Our health-care went from non-profit to pvt. and we are reaping the results. Why would we want to privatize our educational system? We don’t have enough people that are poorly educated? Like many have stated the system is stacked in favor of those with money, why would we want to stack it further in favor of money? If we are looking for money savings defense is a far better place to focus. Nobody says let’s make it pvt. ( although there is a good argument that it is and that’s why it is so out of control). Let’s be frank GREED is at the base of the majority of our problems and until we make care for our fellow citizens/society more important than money we will always have to guard against GREEDY SOB’s in everything we do ——because they are everywhere.

  3. jonpelto permalink
    September 26, 2012 11:52 am

    Fred, as a fellow pro-public education blogger, I try to monitor dozens of blogs but I consistently stop to read yours because I find them to always be inciteful and informative. This one is one of the most important you’ve written to date.

    My blog primary covers issues in Connecticut. I refer to Connecticut as a blue island in a sea of blue. While Republicans appear from time to time, their policy agenda has ensured Democratic victories in virtually even election.

    However, Connecticut’s new Democratic Governor introduced the most anti-union, anti-teacher “education reform” bill of any Democratic governor in the nation. Although water downed a bit, the governor and his pro-charter school got most of what they sought.

    So, on the most important public policy of our time, why do Democrats, as you say, suck on education.

    I’ll add to the debate at my blog, which is named Wait, What? And can be found at http://www.jonathanpelto.com but let me say I believe the basic explanation falls into a few categories.

    First, Democratic candidates recognize the campaigns need money and the “education reformers” have a lot of it and will be generous with anyone who supports their cause. Recall that when Willi Sutton was asked why he robbed banks, he said because that is where the money was.

    Second, middle income families are particularly interested in education issues, and far to many Democrats turned their backs on the middle class or took them for granted. On issue after Democrats and Republicans have failed to stand up on behalf of the middle class. Rather than build a coalition between middle income and lower income families, some Democrats failed to do the work necessary to hold on to middle income voters.

    Finally, while Democrats have championed issues of importance to those who struggle every day, the focus has been on short-term solutions to boost income, provide healthcare or address the need for safe affordable housing.

    I don’t know if Democrats have bought into the notion that we will simply be a two class society – those with and those without, or if they believed food, housing, healthcare were simply more important than education.

    Now, in this era of scarce resources, many Democratic officeholders have accepted the concept it is to expensive to educate everyone but charters allow Democratic to provide a “way out” for a small percent of students, even at the expense of the remaining 97 percent.

    Finally, the corportization of our society has also crept into some unions leaving leaders more interested in protecting senior members rather than the profession and the entire membership.

    This is a difficult conversation, but essential for the future of our country and the Democratic Party.

    More to come, thanks for focusing attention on the issue.

  4. Maureen permalink
    September 26, 2012 12:11 pm

    It reminds me of John Kass’ term for the way the Dems and GOP in Illinois cooperate to fleece the taxpayer. He calls it the Combine. I think we ar seeing this on a national level, now that Illinoisans are in the White House.

  5. Maureen permalink
    September 26, 2012 12:15 pm

    The testing companies and the technology companies will make billions, and Romny just said he’s not going to stop testing.

    Could it be that both Obama and Romney are using these speeches in Education Nation to reassure huge companies that whomever wins, the education market is still theirs for the taking?

  6. September 26, 2012 1:23 pm

    I haven’t read you enough to be 100% sure what you mean here. Am I right to think you’re basically agreeing with Romney? (“I don’t subscribe to the idea of the federal government trying to push a common core on various states. It’s one thing to put it out as a model and let people adopt it as they will, but to financially reward states based upon accepting the federal government’s idea of a curriculum, I think, is a mistake. … “). I.e., either no D of E, or just one that doesn’t do policymaking?

    I could go for the latter. The problem, such as it is, is that someday one might like a White House and a D of E that would encourage, say, CTU-style reform packages. But since that’s political fantasy, maybe a toothless, hortatory D of E is the best goal for the next 5-10 years.

  7. DRWHY permalink
    September 26, 2012 2:45 pm

    We all know that our unions are unions of professionals. Even Paul Ryan knows the difference between a professional and a scab.
    Paul Ryan wishes UNIONIZED NFL refs would come back?
    Obama wants UNIONIZED NFL refs back
    POLITICOBill Clinton: NFL refs blew the call!
    Bill Clinton: NFL refs blew the call!

    By KEVIN ROBILLARD | 9/25/12 8:52 AM EDT Updated: 9/25/12 6:16 PM EDT

    Bill Clinton is weighing in on America’s greatest crisis: the NFL’s replacement referees.

    “I would not have called that last play the way they did in that Seattle–Green Bay game last night,” Clinton said Tuesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” when asked if the Initiative could intervene in the NFL’s lockout of its unionized referees. “The Packers will wake up this morning and just sort of shake their head and say, ‘We should have won by two touchdowns.’”

    The Seattle Seahawks defeated the Packers on Monday night after the refs awarded a touchdown to Seattle at the end of the game even though it appeared to be a clear interception by Green Bay. The call was the straw that broke the camel’s back for football fans in the political class, angered by a series of bungled calls over the first three weeks of the football season.

    President Barack Obama sent out a rare personal tweet expressing his exasperation: “NFL fans on both sides of the aisle hope the refs’ lockout is settled soon.”

    GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney expressed similar sentiments.

    “I’d sure like to see some experienced referees with NFL experience come back onto the NFL playing fields,” Romney said Tuesday on CNN.

    He added that his running mate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, was upset about the call.

    “Paul was very angry that the Green Bay Packers, he believes won and the referees took it away from them,” Romney said.

    Ryan himself used the situation to attack the Obama administration.

    “Did you guys watch that Packer game last night?” Ryan said at a town hall meeting in Cincinnati, Ohio. “I mean, give me a break. It is time to get the real refs. And you know what, it reminds me of President Obama and the economy. If you can’t get it right, it is time to get out.”

    A fellow Packers fan agreed.

    “After catching a few hours of sleep, the #Packers game is still just as painful,” Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker wrote on Twitter, adding the hashtag #Returntherealrefs.

    The owners locked out the referees in June. The refs want wage increases, while the NFL is seeking to convert their pensions to a 401(k) and wants some of the officials to work full time.

    For liberals, the replacement referees provided an opportunity to make a broader argument about unionization, with many pointing out the irony in Walker — whose crusade against his state’s public employee unions made him a GOP icon — calling for the return of unionized employees.

    “The Chicago Teachers are like NFL refs & Crystal Sugar’s locked out workers—skilled workers necessary to decent outcomes,” AFL-CIO spokesman Jeff Hauser wrote on Twitter.

    Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0912/81638.html#ixzz27betZHmm

    • ReTiredbutMisstheKids permalink
      September 26, 2012 11:36 pm

      DRWHY: This is an excellent explanation of the problem in a nutshell. Experienced NFL
      Referees are more important than experienced teachers, because, as we all know, sports and entertainment are FAR more important than the education of American children.

      And that, my friends, is the sorry state of the United States of America. The end.

  8. granny permalink
    September 26, 2012 8:54 pm

    So what can teachers do to really upset the politicos? We’re not playing a game.

    • ReTiredbutMisstheKids permalink
      September 26, 2012 11:39 pm

      granny–Some smart people have pointed out success by the LGBT community in grabbing Obama’s ear & forcing response to their issues. Of course, we educators need to do the same.

  9. September 27, 2012 10:45 am

    We both know the issues. Much of that, yes, has to do with DFER’s assaults on every candidate who even has a modicum of progressive thought. We need to keep beating some of these points over the head similar to what’s happening in Chicago (and what will soon follow in Detroit and Philly). If they’re not willing to sit down at the table with, then they’re going to hear it on the streets. From us. Entirely.

  10. September 27, 2012 7:38 pm

    Money is what matters for all corporate education reform.
    Here is one glaring yet overlooked example that is never mentioned as far as I can tell.
    The information given by parents who enroll their children in public schools is fairly extensive and grows annually regarding children’s health, disabilities, interests, etc. Even information about parents can be quite extensive. Laws and penalties abound in regard to the privacy of this information by public employees and institutions.
    Go to an information site and look up a person by name. See how much it would cost you to find out everything possible about an individual. $50 per person is fairly common. Now imagine if a private company had clear access to the information without the permission or knowledge of the individual. (Lists of diabetics, autistic children, parent occupations and employers, etc.) Even wholesale prices for massive buyers would yield a great deal of money to the private company that could access all the information of everyone in a school district – students, parents, teachers, school personnel, sub-contractors, etc.
    Privatization allows for that. One person of one private corporation with one portable hard drive could make lots of money without risking any law-breaking activity. ($50 X 10,000 students = $500,000, and the information is still available to be sold again and again.) Public employees and public institutions are the ones restricted from data mining for profit. Private corporations are private.
    This is just one surreptitious way that educational profitization works in an era of savage capitalization.

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