Wednesday, April 15, 2015

WANTED: Progressive Candidate With the Guts to Stand Up For Public Education

By:  Steven Singer
Originally published on his blog:  https://gadflyonthewallblog.wordpress.com/2015/04/15/wanted-progressive-candidate-with-the-guts-to-stand-up-for-public-education/
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Wanted:
Progressive presidential candidate.
MUST SUPPORT PUBLIC EDUCATION.
No. Not just the words. Not as a soundbite. Must actually support policies that help public schools – not tear them apart and sell them away piece-by-piece while you smile and brag about how much you support education.
This means you must:
1) Repudiate and Vow to Repeal Common Core State Standards
-Must know how they were created by unqualified partisans with little input from real educators.
-Cash strapped states were coerced into accepting them – in many cases even before they were done being written – as a condition for increased funding.
-They have never been proven to help kids learn and are in fact a massive social experiment at taxpayers’ expense and students’ peril.
-They are a huge payday for the testing and test prep industry who provide the new standardized assessments and new textbooks necessary for their implementation.
-They are developmentally inappropriate, demanding all students to learn at the same rate and at a time frame that is inconsistent with the way children cognitively develop.
2) End Annual Standardized Testing
-Must promise to end policies forcing public schools to give standardized tests in reading and math to all students in grades 3-8 and once in high school. Ideally, standardized tests should be completely eliminated.
-Must understand that standardized tests are poor assessments that have never been proven to measure academic achievement. However, they do an excellent job of demonstrating a student’s parental income – rich kids do well, poor kids less so.
-Must realize these tests are nothing but a money-maker for private industry and are used as an excuse to close under-funded schools predominantly serving children of color.
MUST REPUDIATE THE MEDIA NARRATIVE OF FAILING SCHOOLS, which is not supported by facts and merely the propaganda of an industry feeding off of our public taxes and children’s misery.
3) Stop the Expansion of Charter Schools
-Must understand how for-profit charters siphon away public money for use as private profits. Charters reduce services for children to increase the bottom line.
-Must vow to protect funding meant for traditional public schools that is lost when charters open in the district.
-Must know that no research has ever shown charters to be better than public schools, and many studies have shown them to be drastically worse.
-Must appreciate the lack of transparency charters are afforded feeds the growing plague of national charter financial scandals.
4) Work to Stop School Segregation
-Our public schools are more segregated now than they were before Brown vs. Board of Education 60 years ago. This is intolerable and makes it easy to disenfranchise students of color.
-Must not only recognize this, but have a plan to solve the problem.
5) Promise to Increase Public School Funding – Especially to the Poorest Districts
-Must understand that nationwide, rich schools spend on average 15.6% more than high poverty schools. Being born poor should not mean you get a worse education. In fact, impoverished students have greater needs than wealthy ones. It costs MORE to educate them.
-Must champion an effective plan to address funding inequalities with an emphasis an equity.
6) Have a Plan to Address Child Poverty
-Must have an effective plan to help children, parents and families rise out of poverty.
7) Allow Teachers Autonomy and Recognize Them as Professionals
-Must support letting teachers run their own classrooms, champion teacher-created tests over standardized ones – in short, LET TEACHERS TEACH.
-Must vow to eliminate any so-called teacher accountability programs that evaluate educators based on student test scores. Let teachers be evaluated by their own administrators based on classroom observations.
8) Stop Supporting Teach For America
-Must admit six weeks training for college graduates without education degrees is not good preparation to become classroom teachers. All students deserve a teacher with a 4-year degree specializing in education.
-Must condemn valuing TFA recruits who have only promised to be in the classroom for two years over teachers who have devoted their whole lives to their students.
9) Repudiate Any So-called School Choice or Voucher Programs
-Must understand that these policies are often backdoor support for the unconstitutional practice of spending public money on religious or parochial schools.
-Must recognize these policies are another attempt by private industry to convert public taxes into profits. Private schools are not subject to the same regulations as public entities and as such can freely use tax money in more nefarious ways.
-Must acknowledge that school choice is a sham – sending children to schools without public school boards paradoxically reduces the choice parents have over how the school is run.
-Public schools must remain public. Policies allowing for choice among schools – if done fairly – would increase the cost of public education exponentially. It is a much more efficient policy and less open to fraud if we instead ensure every student has a quality education. We need one excellent education system – not multiple ones.
10) Support the Right of Workers to Unionize
-Must support policies to make it easier for private citizens to exercise their collective bargaining rights. Period.

I would be willing to vote for any candidate who met all of these requirements regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, background or party affiliation.
That’s right. This job need not be filled by a Democrat. Any party will do. I am sick of being offered false progressives under a Democratic banner.
Why vote for her over Jeb Bush when they support THE SAME THING!?
No. I will not vote Democrat just because. Never, never again.
If they want my vote, they will have to meet my job application. I will vote to hire the best candidate. Whoever that is.
And I bet I’m not alone.
The education vote is no longer a gimme for the Democrats.
Progressive education candidates? Are you out there?

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