All the democratic presidential candidates have plans how to run the country and positively affect the world. Some have good ideas about how to improve public schools and support teachers.
But none has yet to speak about America’s education crisis.
Educators and parents who rally around public schools and the teachers who work in them know the fight. It’s no secret.
We want a presidential candidate to pledge that they will help stop the takeover of our public education system by wealthy venture capitalists, corporate CEOs, and billionaires who want to remake public education into their for-profit, privatized vision.
- We want great public schools for all children. Not rich private schools for the wealthy and poor charters for students living in poverty.
- We want better and fair funding of our public schools, so states and local school boards don’t have to worship the wealthy for resources that result in school closures and charter schools. Here’s Bill Gates in Tennessee the other day.
- We want a candidate to say no to a cheap, unqualified education workforce, fueled by groups like Teach for America, New Leaders, and Relay Graduate School of Education.
- We worry that the Silicon Valley hedge fund managers and entrepreneurs ultimately want our students to sit in front of screens for their education.
- We fear they will replace brick-and-mortar schools and teachers with unbridled technology! Tech charter schools. That’s what we fear is the endgame.
- We want to quit permitting tech programs to collect personal data on children for commercial purposes, and push students into jobs early, before they’re ready.
- We fear losing ownership of our public schools!
These wants and fears drive parents and educators to fight for the democratic public schools they hold dear!
Sen. Bernie Sanders has A Thurgood Marshall Plan for Education. He promises to curb charter school growth, mentions for-profit charters, wants to tackle the problems surrounding racial discrimination and school segregation, student hunger, school infrastructure, addresses special education, will raise teacher salaries, and more.
These are great initiatives! I’ve yet to hear any candidate mention all of these. Bernie Sanders is a most thoughtful candidate when it comes to education.
He understands that corporations need to pay their fair share of taxes, and the importance of that to schools. But does Sanders see Bill Gates’s role in school privatization (see below)?
The following was a misstatement on my part. I apologize for this error. This is a statement from The Nation’s author in reference to a charter school audit and should not be attributed to Sen. Sanders. Sen. Sanders made no mention of High Tech High. I stand corrected. Thank you, Joe Herosy, for your comment.
[One of the charter schools he praises in an article in The Nation is High Tech High, a Gates backed school which emphasizes technology.]
Sen. Elizabeth Warren after visiting with the AFT and AFT’s President Randi Weingarten promised to make the next education secretary a former teacher. Hip Hip Hooray! Who wouldn’t get excited about that after Betsy Devos?
Warren was a special education teacher herself, so maybe she identifies with teachers.
Like Sanders and some of the other candidates she is fighting to eliminate student debt and make college affordable.
But while Warren, like Sanders, is a heavy hitter against corporations and corruption, especially when it comes to banks, she sidesteps the corporate harm involving public schools.
Sen. Kamala Harris earns brownie points for getting the huckster program K12 Inc. (California Virtual Academies) to repay California taxpayers millions for misleading advertising.
It’s common knowledge that K12 is a failed program, yet it still bilks tax dollars, stealing from public schools, in states around the country. It’s a mystery why states and parents sign onto this failed program.
Since virtual instruction and for-profit colleges are a huge threat to America’s students and how they learn, that Harris addressed these issues brings some hope that she might see the corporate threat to public education.
Other candidates like former Vice President Biden, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke and Sen. Cory Booker are for corporate school reform. They might as well be friends with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos!
Other candidates say little about public schools. If I’ve missed something please let me know.
Standing Up to Bill Gates and Company
The real question is, will any of the candidates be able to stand up to Bill Gates and those like him, who are rich and powerful and hold considerable influence over public schools.
Gates has been on the inside of school reform for years. His control of public education is so pronounced, that under President Obama, Diane Ravitch named Gates the nation’s superintendent of schools!
Gates’s pet projects have failed time and again, but his new experiments are always approved due to his wealth and power. Tax dollars flow to his endeavors with little oversight. Communities pay for those projects too, even when they fail.
Gates helped finance the unproven Common Core State Standards that most parents dislike and which doesn’t seem to have improved learning.
You cannot say you are a friend to unions and teachers and jump on Bill Gates’s bandwagon.
He is, of course, not the only wealthy influencer. Corporate groups and individuals from the Koch Brothers to the Waltons, Arnolds, Zuckerbergs, Broads, and many more corporate shills and politicians affect how education is going to work in this country.
Millions of donations are showered onto groups like Teach for America, who most agree are not prepared to teach, but who go on to snap up leadership positions so they can support draconian school reform.
Who will stand up against the corporate takeover of public schools?
Democratic candidates have got the microphone. The rest of us, educators and parents who march in protest to save public education are shouting at them to speak to this issue.
We are all waiting to hear from just one.