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.
Harris also went after the now defunct for-profit college Corinthian.
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.
Read about the City Fund plan to replace the public schools in forty cities with charters in the next ten years! Check out DPE 2.0 The City Fund by Thomas Ultican.
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.
What’s your position on taking the federal government out of the public schools and returning decisions to the states?
Nancy Bailey says
I believe there has been overreach. I’ve never been happy with ed. secretaries in either party and NCLB or Race to the Top, but the US DOE should be a check for IDEA (disabilities) and civil rights etc. The trouble is we haven’t had good ed. policy. and they haven’t always provided the necessary support. That said you can find corruption at the state and local levels too. The whole system needs help.
~ Absolutely! Let’s allow the people who KNOW what’s going on to decide what’s needed – namely the TEACHERS! We need to treat them like the professionals they are – not some underpaid little robot who follows all the silly rules. STEP ASIDE FEDS. You can’t even do the country’s job – what makes you think you know about education?
Nancy, I did a 5 part series on all the 2020 Presidential candidates. Neither Rs or Ds have we we are waiting to hear. Let me know if you would like to read what I found.
Nancy Bailey says
Sure! Thanks, Lynne.
Jim Mordecai says
Another fight no Democratic Presidential Candidate mentions is desegregation in government loan supported housing and public schools. 65 Years after the Brown v Board we are more segregated by race and class in public schools than when Jim Crow segregation laws were legal. The “choice” education movement is moving us in the direction of greater apartheid public schooling.
Its been 65 years and we as a Nation are drifting ever further away from Supreme Court ruling that separate is not equal. Politicians over the years calling for equity, without addressing America’s racial and class segregation in government financed housing and public schooling has increased outcome of racial and class segregation. Call for equity is a call for addressing the symptom and not a call to address the underlying problem of government policies that by omission or commission continue to replicate our apartheid nation.
United States preamble defines purpose for our government as to “form a more perfect union.” That aspiration is not possible without government policies of desegregation in both housing and public school enrollment.
Nancy Bailey says
Thank you for this, Jim! This reminds me that in the 80s at least we made some effort to rezone school districts for more diversity. This was the case in the school where I taught in Tallahassee.
I am no legal expert but I believe this case ended those efforts for schools across the country and why there is now little effort to desegregate schools.
I liked that Bernie Sanders included racial discrimination in his plan.
Also, do you remember when Raleigh made strides in their schools?
Everyone should read the 2009 Hope and Despair in the American City: Why There are No Bad Schools in Raleigh.
And then ask what happened.
Jim Mordecai says
Using race to desegregate public schools has been turned away from the Roberts’ Court.
Yet, Brown v Board II in 1957 ruled it was up to local government to desegregate. Seattle case mentioned as a tool for desegregating was to enroll based on parent income.
More than ever, in urban areas, housing segregation is increasing as price of renting or buying is going through the roof. Public schooling is being determined by the price of neighborhood homes. Seeking economic diversity of public school enrollment deserves to be an enrollment goal and enrollment criteria designed to further than goal.
In Seattle school district desegregation enrollment plan there had been no de jure segregation but Seattle School District was trying to integrate realizing a defacto small representation of black students in school district enrollment.
Seattle bus integration plan based on race preference was ended. The radio interview of author Richard Rothstein indicates that Seattle is more segregated today that 45 years ago. And, Professor Rothstein list some of the government policies that increased segregation during his interview.
“Candy Mike and Todd
Seattle schools are more segregated today than in decades
By Candy, Mike and Todd Show
April 15, 2019 at 3:34 pm
Joe Wolf, Flickr
Despite Seattle’s best intentions today, its schools are more segregated than they were just a couple decades ago.
“We actually have more school segregation today than in any time in the last 45 years in this country, and the reason we have so much school segregation is because the neighborhoods are so segregated,” Richard Rothstein told the Candy, Mike, and Todd Show.
Rothstein wrote the book on segregation in America — an issue that lingers today. His book The Color of Law was recently turned into a short film Segregation by Design. He’s also a distinguished fellow at the Economic Policy Institute. He notes that Seattle schools are currently six times more segregated than they were in 1990, despite neighborhoods becoming more diverse.
“I actually got started on writing this book, The Color of Law, because I read a Supreme Court decision that concerned Seattle,” Rothstein said. “The Supreme Court prohibited the Seattle school district from embarking on a very, very token school desegregation plan … the Seattle school district had a policy of allowing parents to choose the school their child would attend, but if the choice would further exacerbate the racial isolation of the school, that choice would not be honored.”
“So if you had a school in Seattle that was all white, or mostly white, and there was one place left and a black and a white child applied for it, the black child was given some preference in order to help desegregate the school,” he said.
Seattle Public Schools lost a seven-year long court battle over its busing program. The district once used race as criteria for placing students into schools, favoring integration beyond neighborhood borders. The Supreme Court ruled that the practice was unconstitutional.
There’s a few other reasons why Seattle’s schools have become more segregated. KNKX first reported on a study which shows that 22 percent of students in Seattle go to private schools.
But as Rothstein notes, if the neighborhoods were segregated to begin with (read more about that here), then the schools would reflect that.
“The policies are easy to design to desegregate this country and redress the segregation that the government created,” he said. “What’s hard is developing the political will – a new civil rights movement that’s going to address this. We could, for example, subsidize African Americans … these subdivisions that were created on an explicitly racial basis when they were inexpensive and African Americans couldn’t move into them (in the ’40s and ’50s). We could subsidize African Americans to move into suburbs that are now unaffordable to them.”
Lawmakers could also modify existing laws that are maintaining the status quo.
“We have many programs that the federal government now follows that reinforce segregation even though they are not explicitly designed to … for example the US Treasury Department gives tax breaks to developers to build housing for low income families,” he said. “Those families are disproportionately African American … that program reinforces segregation because most of the low income housing tax credit developments are placed in already low-income segregated neighborhoods, making them more segregated than they were before.”
“We could very easily modify that program to require that a higher proportion of those developments are placed in high-opportunity neighborhoods, and middle class neighborhoods …” Rothstein said. “The problem is not that we don’t know what to do, the problem is that we don’t have the political will to correct these civil rights violations.”
Nancy Bailey says
Thank you for all this information, Jim. I am a fan of Rothstein but I need to read all this. It is appreciated!
Jim Mordecai says
Nancy: I too am a fan of Richard Rothstein. And, his book Color of Law uncovers the facts of how Government redlining regulations after W.W. II created with its segregated housing financing policies created race and class segregation of our public schools across this nation. Most of American students in America’s public schools are educated in racially and class based classrooms.
And, as Richard Rothstein says there is no “political will” to change the housing and school house American segregated education.
Joe Herosy says
Nancy Bailey does a great job laying out the issues and the candidates stance but the claim that Sanders praises a Gates backed charter school may be in error. The article she cites from The Nation says that Sanders backs an audit of charter schools which I confirmed. The article then claims that some charter schools are good and includes HighTech High in San Diego. This is the authors assertion and there is no claim that Sanders is backing this school or any others listed in the article. I confirmed from the Sanders web site that he backs the audit but does not praise the Gates school or any charter.
Nancy Bailey says
Thanks, Joe Herosy. I made the correction. I guess my question would be who is behind the audit and why was it mentioned in the article?
Duane Swacker says
“Gates helped finance the unproven Common Core State Standards that most parents dislike and which HASN’T improved THE TEACHING AND learning PROCESS.”
Actually it has HARMED THE TEACHING AND LEARNING PROCESS.
Nancy Bailey says
Thank you, Duane. I agree.
Liz Suber says
Pete Buttigieg, who is married to a public middle school teacher, has this on his website:
Investing in our Teachers
Freedom means empowering our children by investing in our nation’s teachers.
Federal support for higher teacher pay, targeted to districts where it will bring the most benefit
We need to respect and value our teachers as the essential public servants that they are, and we need to compensate them accordingly. We need federal support for boosting teacher pay, and we need to begin by directing it to Title I schools — the schools with the most economic and racial inequity, and with the most students on free and reduced price lunch.
Nancy Bailey says
I like him. He makes sense on a lot of issues.
But he has come out in favor of charter schools in Education Next which is a very reform oriented publication. So on school issues I have concerns.
“Pete Buttigieg, says charter schools ‘have a place’ as “a laboratory for techniques that can be replicated.”
When have we replicated techniques from charters? At best they run like traditional schools but even then they tend to dismiss students with disabilities or students whose parents are not involved.
No traditional public school can (or should) do that.
Carol Starr says
The Maryland State Commission and Excellence received funding for comprehensive reform (Kirwan Commission). This is the boldest initiative in years to support public early education, teacher development, and school wide improvement. See NCEE.org.. There’s a lot to this…by the way Kamala Harris is pushing for more meaningful support for teachers and has articulated the implications impressively. There is no doubt that America’s children deserve so much more.
Nancy Bailey says
NCEE? Oh dear. Here are the funders. http://ncee.org/who-we-are/funders/
So I wonder what’s up with that.
But I agree about Kamala Harris. I think there are several candidates who are at least addressing education issues. Sanders is thus far the most comprehensive.
Jeff T says
Kamala Harris recently joined Hillary Clinton for a really nice looking event for female students … called something like “build” … at a NewSchools Venture Fund campus in L.A. … she acts like she loves the techy charter school idea and is ready to keep appearing on their behalf. Am I wrong about this?
Nancy Bailey says
Nothing ever surprises me about politicians, but I’ve scanned the Internet the last 10 minutes and could not find anything like you describe. If you find a link please share. Thank you.