What would education be like with a President Bernie Sanders? Would he stand by public schools and public school career teachers?
I think between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders would be better to fight against the troubling school reforms that have plagued public schools for years. Most of what can be gathered about Sanders and his educational agenda supports that.
But there are still concerns which I list below.
Here are the positives:
- He voted against No Child Left Behind and was especially against high-stakes standardized testing.
- He stood by Chicago’s principal and public school activist Troy LaRaviere and students, teachers and parents. He spoke out against LaRaviere’s firing.
- He, like Clinton, opposes private charter schools and school vouchers.
- He gets that poverty directly affects students and is concerned about health care, mental health, nutrition, and other supports. He wants wrap-around services for poor children.
- Bernie Sanders supports education programs for students with disabilities. He sponsored a 2008 budget amendment increase which called for $10 billion for special education. He said, Over 30 years ago, the federal government made a promise to school districts around the country to fund 40 percent of the cost of special education. The federal government has not kept its commitment. Special Education is an expensive proposition and because of inadequate federal funding, property taxes in Vermont and around the country are increasing while kids with special ed needs are not getting the attention they deserve. My amendment this week is part of an ongoing effort to begin the process of strong federal funding for special education.
- Sanders wants to reduce high-stakes testing and use multiple measures of evaluating school effectiveness.
- He supports financially assisting students with college. He has taken on the huge and serious issue surrounding student debt.
- Also, like Clinton, he backs early childhood education. I was surprised to learn Sanders once taught in a Head Start program.
- He understands the fraud involved with many for-profit colleges.
- Sanders supports federal support of afterschool programs.
- Jane Sanders has spoken in favor of the novel idea of Individual Educational Plans for all children.
- Sanders brags about public schools and public school teachers. He was a public school student and appears to be proud of it.
- In this video, Bernie Sanders seems impatient with former education secretary Arne Duncan, drilling him with serious questions about Duncan’s intentions when it comes to student loans, budget cuts, collective bargaining, and testing. The end of the video is especially telling. Sanders appears to understand that high-stakes testing is unfair when applied to teacher evaluations.
- Young people in large numbers close to the education process support Sanders.
- Bernie Sanders seems to be the only candidate who addresses the needs of Native Americans.
- He continues to address the water crisis in Flint, Michigan which seriously impacts children.
- It has been stated that he is against alternative routes to teaching. I am assuming this would be programs like Teach for America and Relay. But I have not been able to find proof. If someone shares information on this I will include it.
- He comes from the State of Vermont which has been a state that has done well with education in the past.
- He is concerned about students who come to America from other countries. The Dream Act.
I am sure there are many more positives about Bernie Sanders and education. Feel free to add them in the comment section. The above are my favorites.
While I support Sen. Sanders, everything isn’t perfect in regard to public schools. There are still unanswered questions when it comes to what he would really do for schools and teachers as President.
- Sanders did not vote for or against the Every Student Succeeds Act but seemed to support it. He has stated, Every Student Succeeds moves us closer to a system that promotes creative learning by reducing the number of “fill-in-the-bubble” standardized tests and instead evaluates students based on their understanding of the curriculum and their ability to use it creatively. There is a split with public school advocates on the passage of this bill. Many wanted to push the bill through to get rid of the harmful reforms of NCLB. The rest of us believe more should have been done to ESSA before it was passed. The bill appears to have its own serious problems, including being pro-charter schools and giving much power to the states.
- In one debate Sanders stated his admiration of Bill Gates. This did not specifically refer to schools. Also, when Jane Sanders was interviewed by Nikhil Goyal and asked about corporate involvement in public schools for The Nation, she said, I think some of them, like Bill and Melinda Gates, have very pure motives. They really want to help. I think they should be part of the discussion. I really do. but we agree with Chicago teachers. Also, while not her fault, the title of that article was negative referring to public schools. It was called, “Jane Sanders Has Some Harsh Words For Our Public Education.” Most of what she said was supportive of public schools. There were many fine, even innovative, thoughts aside from the statement about Bill and Melinda Gates. But many are concerned about Bill Gates and his pervasive power over education policy and the privatization of public education. Her statement struck a nerve.
- Bernie Sanders did not vote for or against Common Core State Standards. But in early 2015, he voted against an anti-Common Core amendment. One can assume he, like Sec. Clinton, supports Common Core. If he doesn’t he should state otherwise.
- In 2001 he voted to authorize $22.8 billion to track student progress through testing. Of course, that was a long time ago and he appears to have changed his stance dramatically.
Considering all the candidates, the corporate mainstream media has neglected to ask serious questions surrounding schools. This is despite the fact that there are huge concerns, unanswered questions, and much debate about the future of public education and the fate of career teachers.
It would be interesting, for example, to hear what they think of the push for Competency-Based Education–schools that rely heavily on technology for instruction–“disruptive” education.
Parents, teachers and students deserve better.
Yet, out of the three candidates I am still a Sanders supporter for many positive reasons. I find him to be a man of integrity. But while it’s not his fault, I wish my support of him was not based on a collection of piecemeal ideas when it comes to public schools. This is too important an issue in America.
Candidate Questionnaire: Bernie Sanders. The American Federation of Teachers.
“Bernie Sanders on Education.” On the Issues.
John Konopak says
One would have thought that Obama was a person of integrity, too,
At least BEFORE he appointed Arne Duncan to sell the public schools down the river.
Go figger, huh?
Nancy Bailey says
I agree, John. The difference I would say is that Pres. Obama has been on board for corporate support and received campaign donations before his election. I will also say there were hints during that campaign as to where he was leaning with schools. One being when he unanimously agreed, in a debate with Sen. McCain, that Michelle Rhee had done wonders for education.
Bruce Hunter says
Your take on Senator Sanders was quite positive. Why isn’t he associated with high profile pro public education support over the 25 years or so he was in Congress. You may have been too kind to him.
Nancy Bailey says
I agree. I think I outline some of the negatives.
But he did not vote for NCLB, and if you watch the video link it is clearly evident he supports teachers. Also, at the end of that video he seems to understand the misuse of high-stakes testing.
I personally believe he is the best when it comes to education out of the three I describe. I don’t think he is perfect though.
Certainly, there should be a more pointed discussion about education K-12 and higher education. I blame the corporate media for part of that.
It is infuriating that the union I belong to, NEA, threw their support behind Hillary. There appeared to be very little examination of any candidates. Just the usual support for the NEA populist person. So sad.