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.
- 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. There’s concern that some of the candidates have representatives from Teach for America working on their campaigns. Why? This is troubling.
- We want schools that are developmentally appropriate and that don’t push children to learn simply to pass tests.
- We want schools that give teachers the freedom to be the professionals that they prepare themselves to be through a great university system.
- We want teacher-created or chosen assessment that assists teachers in their planning and evaluation of students.
- We want schools where parents and teachers can work together to benefit the students.
- We want smaller class sizes where teachers can get to know their students. This will make safer and better schools for all students.
- We want schools that bring children together and build tolerance for a better, kinder future. Privatization separates children.
- We want full funding of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and public schools that serve all children. The U.S. Department of Education must finally keep the promise it made to America’s children in 1975.
- 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 online 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.
Warren has since this posting come out with a more detailed education plan. A Great Public School Education for Every Student. I like her plan. It is well thought out.
Elizabeth Warren was also confronted by a pro-charter group of parents, and I’ve seen some criticize her because, while her children attended mostly public school, at one point she sent her son to a private school. That’s an unfair accusation.
When public schools are defunded or not doing well due to corporate reform, parents, if they are able, must make a decision as to what school their child will attend. I see no conflict of interest for Elizabeth Warren to at one point in time, to send her child to a private school. She can still advocate for improving public education for all children.
I think Elizabeth Warren has earned a lot of points by coming forward with a good plan. I believe she is sincere.
Sen. Kamala Harris is no longer in the campaign, but she earned brownie points for getting the huckster program K12 Inc. (California Virtual Academies) to repay California taxpayers millions for misleading advertising. These are important issues.
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.
Vice President Biden and Sen. Cory Booker have been for corporate school reform. They might as well be friends with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos! It will be interesting if they change their platform. I hope so, especially Vice President Biden who is polling higher than Sen. Booker.
The Vice President’s wife is a teacher so maybe he can be swayed to support public schools.
Other candidates say little about public schools. If I’ve missed something please let me know.
Senator Amy Klobucher, Michael Bennet, and Tom Steyer have not been especially clear about what they will do when it comes to creating public schools that do not lead us down the road to privatization.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg finally released an education plan. Many concerns surround his ideas about education as described in this VICE report, “Inside the Financial Relationship Between Pete Buttigieg and Charter School Backers.”
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.