"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"...no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities." – Thomas Jefferson

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Only One Party In Education Policy

So...why is Dennis Van Roekel, President of the National Education Association, asking me to join Educators for Obama?

If you click on the link above you'll be taken to the web site for the NEA Fund for Children and Public Education. There you'll find the plug, "Pledge to be an Educator for Obama" followed by this amazing comment:
President Obama has earned NEA's recommendation because of his unwavering support for education and students. Now more than ever, we need to elect a President who shares our vision for a stronger America. Do your part and pledge to be an educator for Obama today!
I was against the NEA endorsement of Obama when it was first mentioned at the NEA-RA last July. The Obama administration has done nothing to support public education and public school educators in the United States.

Using his Secretary of Education, President Obama has continued the attack on public schools which began with No Child Left Behind. Arne Duncan's plan for America's public schools, Race to the Top, is nothing short of disaster for our children and our public schools.

Anthony Cody writing in Living In Dialogue last March reminded us of the disconnect between President Obama's words and his administration's actions. He quotes the President,
...one thing I never want to see happen is schools that are just teaching to the test. Because then you're not learning about the world; you're not learning about different cultures, you're not learning about science, you're not learning about math. All you're learning about is how to fill out a little bubble on an exam and the little tricks that you need to do in order to take a test. And that's not going to make education interesting to you. And young people do well in stuff that they're interested in. They're not going to do as well if it's boring."
Then he asked,
Is President Obama aware:
  • that Race to the Top requires states to tie teacher pay and evaluations to student test scores? If ever there was a recipe for teaching to the test, this is it!
  • that his Secretary of Education is proposing to evaluate teacher preparation programs by tracking the test scores of the teachers they produce?
  • that his administration's plan for the new version of No Child Left Behind continues to place tremendous pressure on schools attended by the poorest students, ensuring that there will still be extremely high stakes attached to these tests? This creates the most invidious inequity of all -- where students most in need of the sort of wholistic, project-based curriculum the President rightly says is the cure to boredom remain stuck in schools forced to focus on test scores.
  • that his Department of Education is proposing greatly expanding both the number of subjects tested, and the frequency of tests, to enable us to measure the "value" each teacher adds to their students?
Writing in the Answer Sheet, Monty Niell critiqued the waivers the Obama administration is offering to states to relieve the pressure of No Child Left Behind.
If they accept the deal, states will lock in ever more counter-productive educational practices based on the misuse of test scores, including linking teacher evaluation to student scores. Those policies could be hard to dislodge should Congress decide not to endorse Duncan’s “Blueprint” when it eventually does reauthorize the federal law. States that refuse to sign on to Duncan’s reform program, however, will be denied waivers, Duncan said, and will then continue to be subject to the continue the NCLB charade of seeking “100% proficiency” of students in reading and math by 2014. Neither choice will help children or schools.
Will the Republicans do anything different? Will a Republican administration be better for public education? Not likely. But the fact remains that Dennis Van Roekel and the NEA are wrong. President Obama is no friend of public education.

My choice for president in the 2012 election will be made based on non-education issues. The current crop of candidates, President Obama and the Republicans who are running, are pushing the privatization of public education with charters (the Republicans include voucher plans as well), the deprofessionalization of teachers, and the corporatization of America's education system.

When it comes to education policy we don't have a two party system. The Corporate Party is in control.

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