It was nice to watch the MSNBC Public School Forum online. Finally, Democratic candidates answered questions about education. But here are seven concerns.
Corrections are welcome.
Candidates talked about making the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes to help schools, but no one mentioned Bill Gates, the Waltons, Eli Broad, Mark Zuckerberg or any of the corporate reformers who are taking control of public schools.
They didn’t mention Common Core or the failure of the initiatives funded by the Gates Foundation and taxpayers. Nor did they speak about portfolio schools, the latest corporate endeavor to push choice and charters.
No one mentioned using Social Impact Bonds or Pay for Success to profit off of public schools. See: “Wall Street’s new way of making money from public education — and why it’s a problem” by Valerie Strauss.
CEO Tom Steyer mentioned corporate influence towards the end, but it was brief, and no moderator attempted to explore what he said.
No one mentioned what might be the biggest threat to public education, the replacement of teachers and brick-and-mortar schools with technology.
Disruption was initially described by Clayton Christensen and Michael Horn in their book Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns. This is seen as the revolution by those in business and the tech industry and is being played out in online charter schools like Summit and Rocketship. Summit also has an online virtual school.
The candidates might want to review Tultican’s “Ed Tech About Profits NOT Education.”
Teach for America
Teach for America corps members with little training have taken over classrooms, and they run state departments of education!
Do Democratic candidates have Teach for America corps members as consultants on their campaigns? It’s troubling if they do. They should not be wooing teachers with professional degrees and experience while relying on TFA behind the scenes.
Other insidious reform groups are also about replacing education professionals. Relay Graduate School, The New Teacher Project, New Leaders are a few.
This needs to be addressed, sooner, not later.
Betsy DeVos et al.
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy hearing Democratic candidates say they’re going to boot Education Secretary Betsy DeVos out.
But President Obama had individuals from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and other corporate reform groups, working in the U.S. Department of Education. Arne Duncan was no friend to teachers or public schools.
So, while applause against DeVos are justifiable, now’s the time to address the role Democrats have played (and continue to play) in corporate school reform.
The fact is, many groups and individuals are working to end public education, who wear Democratic name tags. It’s imperative that Democratic candidates address this.
While it was great that the forum took place, a discussion about democratic public schools in a free country, shouldn’t be online, on a Saturday, during a busy month when many are focused on the holidays. Those who care about education watched, those who needed to hear and learn probably didn’t. And an all-day online forum is tiring no matter how much you love public schools.
CNN’s primetime town hall on Climate Change is an example of what would have been a better format. Maybe CNN will choose to do this for education early next year.
Rehema Ellis seemed shrill. It was reminiscent of her Education Nation days when MSNBC spent a week every year praising corporate school reform.
All the Democratic candidates favor universal pre-k and believe it will make things right in education.
It would be helpful if they be more specific and discuss what they mean by pre-k. There’s grave concern about pushing early learners to learn advanced concepts before they’re developmentally ready.
The candidates might want to work with individuals from Defending the Early Years who understand early childhood development.
Huge class sizes are the root of evil in public schools. They are a safety issue and contribute to the failure of inclusion for students with disabilities. See Class Size Matters.
Maybe the next discussion will include these topics. There are others. Hopefully, education will also take its rightly place in the nightly debates, including the one that is coming up.
Without a good public school system, students will not be prepared to tackle the most serious problems in our world. Public education needs to be front and center in the next Presidential election.