Here we go again. Two nights of Democratic debates and public schools were only mentioned in connection with other issues. The candidates discussed climate change, gun control, health care, foreign policy, free community college, and more. They never tackled the issues surrounding for-profit colleges.
There were no questions about the privatization of public education in America. No questions about Red for Ed and the teachers and parents who want better public schools in America. Don’t say these are state issues. The President needs to set the stage for how education will work in America. NCLB and Race to the Top did real harm to public education.
Sparks flew when Senator Harris asked Vice President Joe Biden about bussing. We heard mention of universal preschool and free tuition, especially to community college, but, like previous debates and Presidential elections, K-12 was ignored.
How will this country address all those issues without addressing the problems surrounding K-12 education? Ninety percent of America’s students attend public schools. If those schools are lacking due to corporate reform, what will the future hold? What will students know to be able to solve such problems?
Some candidates have mentioned public schools on the campaign trail. See the Network for Public Education rating here. The candidates speak to the teachers unions, but it is the general public that also needs to hear about the threats to public education.
Corporate reforms have hurt our kids and how they learn. Many of the candidates criticize privatization and the wealthy whose corporations pay no taxes, but they don’t seem to connect how this affects public education.
Where was discussion about:
- High-stakes testing? These tests have been damaging to even the youngest students.
- Poverty? How do public schools better help students who live in poverty, including the hungry and the homeless?
- The teacher shortage? Teachers are being driven out of the classroom.
- Teacher strikes? Teachers have risked much to march for better schools.
- Teacher salaries? When will teacher salaries be professionally sound?
- Teach for America? Why are these college grads (and other alternative programs) permitted such power with so little preparation?
- Charter schools? Name one innovation.
- School vouchers? Tax dollars flow to private and parochial schools. No questions asked?
- Separation of Church and State? Why do parochial schools and religious charter schools get tax dollars?
- Education Secretary Betsy DeVos? Where’s the reminder that she’s working to privatize education at all levels.
- Education Freedom? Shouldn’t they grapple with the meaning of this?
- The arts. Shouldn’t all students get art and music?
- Class size. Everyone knows this is a problem.
- The Billionaire Boys Club? So much discussion about corporations, but not their involvement in K-12?
- College and Career? Why are children being pushed into career choices so early?
- Reading? Why are children being pushed to read in kindergarten?
- School Closures? How many schools have unfairly closed due to high-stakes testing?
- Integration? How do we bring children together?
- School Safety. What else can be done beside gun control to keep students safe?
- Curriculum? What changes are being made to how children learn?
- Online schools? Connections and K12 fail but continue to be marketed.
- Special education? How can it be fully funded to address student needs?
- Immigrants? How are schools going to humanely address students of immigrants?
- The closure of school libraries? Address the importance of school libraries and librarians.
- Science and Math? Do we have qualified teachers who have resources for labs?
- The need for counselors? Many schools need more counselors.
- Crumbling infrastructure? Who’s going to fix the schools?
- Community schools? What makes a real community school?
- Partnerships? Why must public schools rely on partnerships?
- Technology? Where are the lines drawn when it comes to how much technology students are exposed to in schools?
- Funding? Why are public schools underfunded?
- Data Collection? How parent privacy concerns surrounding student data collection be addressed?
- Health Care? How should schools address the health care needs of students?
- School nurses? How many schools lack real nurses?
These are a few topics worthy of consideration by the Democratic Presidential candidates, but let’s also hear from President Trump. Where’s his education plan? Does he still hate democratic public schools? In his quest to make America great again, how has he improved public education?
If we expect to have a great country that solves current problems and problems of the future, we need leaders that address how we will teach students today and tomorrow. They need to quit hiding when it comes to America’s schools.
Our elected officials owe the country an honest discussion about education. With no debate, public schools will continue to be endangered, and the serious problems facing the world will remain unsolved.