Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Obama’s utter failure in Education

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Read the entire column by Paul Rosenberg in Salon. It’s powerful. Look at this one section of it:

5. Continuing Bush’s top-down war on public education.

Diane Ravitch is an education historian, author and activist who once believed strongly in much of what flies under the banner of “school reform”—until the real-world results convinced her otherwise. A former assistant secretary of education under G.H.W. Bush, no one can seriously accuse her of being a wide-eyed radical. And yet, she has emerged as the most prominent critic of Obama’s education policies—along depressingly familiar lines: they are virtual carbon copies of George W. Bush’s policies. And she’s anything but alone in raising this criticism, as she has repeatedly pointed out in her writings.

In July 2009, Ravitch wrote:

The great mystery of education policy today is why the Obama administration is embracing the Bush program. I recently wrote in Education Week (June 10) that it is time to kill the Bush-era No Child Left Behind program. The overwhelming majority of teachers agree with me. Those who educate our kids know that NCLB is a failed program that is not improving our schools but rather turning them into test-prep factories and dumbing down our kids.

Almost two years later, in March 2011, Ravitch wrote:

Over the past year, I have traveled the nation speaking to nearly 100,000 educators, parents, and school-board members. No matter the city, state, or region, those who know schools best are frightened for the future of public education. They see no one in a position of leadership who understands the damage being done to their schools by federal policies.

They feel keenly betrayed by President Obama. Most voted for him, hoping he would reverse the ruinous No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation of George W. Bush. But Obama has not sought to turn back NCLB. His own approach, called Race to the Top, is even more punitive than NCLB.

Another two years later, in May 2013, Ravitch wrote:

Remember when candidate Obama in 2008 spoke of hope and change. That encouraged many educators to believe that No Child Left Behind would be ended, tossed into the dustbin of history, where it belongs.

Sadly, President Obama built his Race to the Top right on the flawed foundation of NCLB, and made teaching to the test a necessity.

As the for-profit charters proliferated, he said nothing.

As radical governors destroyed collective bargaining and teacher due process, he said nothing.

As cyber charters grew, garnering huge profits but terrible education, he said nothing.

As vouchers spread, he said nothing.

As privatization accelerated, he said nothing.

The very idea of a “race to the top” refutes the principle of equality of educational opportunity.

If the fundamental criticism hasn’t changed much over the years, the way that it resonates—which matters enormously for base mobilization—certainly has. The growth of resistance from below was charted this past July by Jeff Bryant (a Salon contributor), in piece tellingly titled “Education ‘Reform’ Loses the Netroots.” In 2009, he wrote:

The first Netroots Nation I attended, Pittsburgh in 2009, was mostly a celebration of the Obama victory the previous year. But as events rolled out the rest of that year and into 2010, it became painfully obvious that the new White House would maintain – actually even increase – a disastrous policy agenda carried over from the George W. Bush administration for the nation’s public schools. Public schools activists looked to Netroots Nation as a venue where progressives could push back.

We had our work cut out for us.

Bryant cited 2011 as a “turning point,” when he led an impressive panel titled “Engaging Progressives in the Fight for Public Education,” in which he said “we warned attendees of the dangers of current education policies and urged attendees to get involved in the growing movement to take back our public schools.”

Finally, this year, he wrote:

Six panels on education topics – ranging from curriculum standards, to student suspensions, to student loan debt, to reclaiming the promise of public schools – presented a unified front against current “reform” policies and for a vision of equity and excellence in public education.

Indeed, the dialogue at the meeting made clear the term “education reform” has become a pejorative in the progressive community.

That’s what’s happening with the activist base. But the battle is still fiercely raging in the party at large. In California, a “reform” candidate, running as a Democrat backed by massive outside spending came within a few points of defeating incumbent Tom Torlakson in the contest for California superintendent of public instruction. For the first time ever, it was the most expensive statewide race in California for the general election cycle. The war against public education is still raging full force—and President Obama is still on the wrong side. Is it really any wonder Democrats are having base mobilization problems in light of that? . . .

By all means, read the whole thing. Note that the above is point 5.


Written by LeisureGuy

8 November 2014 at 1:30 pm

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