I’m sorry Democrats didn’t do better last night because they might be somewhat better for public education. Maybe they will regroup and come back stronger for real public education and teacher support.
Last night during the election results, the media portrayed Democrats as the education party, but for years Democratic policymakers have turned on teachers while pretending to be their supporters.
Republicans won’t do what is right for public education. Republicans want school choice. They’ll push for separate schools, schools that lack diversity, and religious schools that will further divide us as a nation. We saw this with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who did nothing for public schools or the teachers who work in them.
But the Democratic Party quit caring about public schools and teachers years ago.
Both parties are complicit in privatizing public schools.
Democrats have done little to lift public schools to the greatness that they could be. They don’t support teachers either.
Both Republicans and Democrats shake hands with corporations when it comes to schools. Teachers can’t compete with big money flowing in the Democratic or Republican parties.
How many thought President Obama would finally make public education shine, lift poor children from poverty? But Obama signed on to corporate reform. Arne Duncan and Race to the Top resulted in more abysmal results, and schools continued to sink.
President Obama had people from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other anti-public ed. individuals working in the U.S. Department of Education. Gates is a charter school enthusiast and has done much to break public education and cast teachers as ineffective. Their teacher effectiveness initiative was a failure but left America believing teachers failed.
Being married to Dr. Jill Biden, a teacher, President Biden also gave us hope for a while. Remember the photo ops in the classroom during his campaign? Yet his education decision-making is steered by nonprofits like Education Trust.
Soon teachers will be gone.
Classroom teachers are the most critical individuals children will meet outside of their homes. That hasn’t stopped Americans from scapegoating them.
They’re stuck in a job like hamsters on a wheel, trying their best to do what’s right for children, forced to follow scripts created by mostly outsiders who’ve never had to walk in their shoes, who have never studied child development or teaching.
During a bizarre pandemic, teachers to whom parents entrusted their children faced schools where there were always mixed messages from the top, including a President who said to drink bleach to cure the disease!
But if Democrats can’t rise above that kind of idiocy and fight for their teachers to not let them foot the blame for the pandemic in their schools, who will come to rescue the teachers?
The main objective for teachers is to keep their students safe. This country gave them little support during the pandemic.
Where’s K-12 in the Build Back Better Plan?
Where’s serious mention of K-12 education in the Build Back Better Plan? Democrats always conveniently skip over that age group and the problems teachers face in those schools.
It’s universal preschool and community college they talk about instead.
Universal Pre-K is a school choice program with private and religious preschools benefiting. And community college offers company programs that serve corporations.
It isn’t that this is terrible, but the lack of attention to K-12 doesn’t serve this country well, and monetizing schooling isn’t about children. It’s about making money on the backs of children and deceiving parents to think it is about their children.
Democrats and teacher unions don’t always support teachers.
Democrats cannot be the education party when they support charter schools, Common Core, and fast-track teachers like Teach for America. They haven’t stood up for public education despite all the teacher union hoopla.
Where have they been on the discussion of special education? They’ve worked along with Republicans to deny children individualization, smaller class sizes.
Teacher unions aren’t always pro-teacher either, enamored of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, signing up for Common Core, and never taking a strong enough stand against high-stakes standardized testing.
They should have said no to pushing first grade down to kindergarten under NCLB.
They should be scrutinizing universal pre-k like nobody’s business to determine how it will be handled and ensure that children get developmentally appropriate schools.
A good union would lift their teachers and do what’s right for the classroom.
And while Randi Weingarten took the correct stance during the pandemic, she changed too rapidly to open schools under President Biden when the Delta Variant made children sick.
It wasn’t just the unions. The message from the CDC was always murky about schools and even masks concerning the pandemic. They let public school teachers be the fall guys.
In Wisconsin, parents sued to get schools to enforce mask-wearing, while in Minnesota, parents sued the school district for mask mandates!
America’s public schools are the democratic fabric that holds the country together, but neither party cares about this. Under both parties, corporations rule, and they will stop at nothing to take control of how and what American children learn.
Let’s hope the Democratic Party renews its commitment to real public education in America.
Laurie McGowan says
You are spot on about the Democrats and public education. Even as a dyed-in-the-wool D, I know and resent the damage done by DFER. They may have receded into the background a bit but the willingness to sell off our public assets will always be available to the highest bidder.
Have you ever noticed that many ed reformers have backgrounds as hedge fund managers for nursing homes and pharmaceutical firms that serve nursing homes? They apply the same model to privatizing K12 — control massive real estate holdings, often acquired for next to nothing; then create a bunch of businesses to supply those entities, all the while sucking in risk-free government-backed revenue. Plunder the assets, load the company up with debt, then sell the carcass and call yourself a philanthropist who just wants to help underprivileged children.
Nothing will change until we rein in the financial sector. As long as the Fed enables these Public-Private-Partnerships that benefit only Goldman Sachs and their ilk, we are screwed. Go after Andy Smarick for his tiresome diatribes against the very concept of the common school. We have to take off the head of the snake.
Nancy Bailey says
Excellent! I had not noticed that, but now I will. Thank you, Laurie.
Maybe Terry McAuliffe would have kept charter schools out of Virginia, but the Dems have supported charters for years. The message they send is always mixed. I cringe at the words partnerships and stakeholders. I think they’d be just as happy as the Republicans to end public ed. and replace real teachers with technology and Teach for America facilitators. And true about Smarick and a long list of those who are like him. His background is government not ed.
Lorrie Butler says
Nancy, I always appreciate your insight and you are right on the mark, in my opinion.
Nancy Bailey says
I always appreciate hearing that from you, Lorrie. Take care.
Embracing test-threaten-punish school “reform” and the unprecedented expansion of the K to 8+ null curriculum that ensued is a hole so deep (20 years of digging!) that Dems have no idea that they’re in it, much less how to climb out of it. Math wars. Reading Wars. CRT spin-offs. The rejection of content knowledge (see CCSS) in favor of soft 21st century thinking skills. Debunked and failed discovery learning. The disaster of pandemic (remote/hybrid) teaching. And now legions of angry and frustrated parents who used to be on our side. And still stuck with the ESSA. What a mess. Now watch the GOP capitalize on these failures.
Nancy Bailey says
When everything with schools is tied to the word “war” you know you have a problem. Virginians are worried.
Thanks, Rick. You’re right on.
Roger Sollenberg at Daily Beast, 11-8-2021, describes white nationalism’s casus belli (cause for war) in his article about the people prominent in CRT backlash.
Sollenberg identifies them as the same people attacking public education. ( Btw- Maurice Cunningham is quoted.)
Nancy Bailey says
Thank you, Linda. I will look Sollenberg’s article up.
Patrick Wiltshire says
Nothing is real until it hits you or a family member personally. Two nights ago I asked our kindergarten granddaughter how school was that day. She hung her head down and said: “Oh it was OK but it was mostly doing schoolwork. They have all these amazing toys, games, and puzzles in the room but we never get to use them. It doesn’t make any sense (tearing up)!.
Thank you for your breath of fresh air on the intersection of politics and K-12 education!
Nancy Bailey says
Thank you, Patrick. As you probably know, there’s a great deal of concern that this push down will now be a part of universal pre-k.
Media present and cite the Center for American Progress as the voice of the Democrats. It was founded by John Podesto who can be seen in an on-line video with Chester Finn advocating for the election of school privatizing politicians. Tom Daschle, a former CAP Board Chair and current board member founded the BiPartisan Policy Center which had education sessions hosted by Bill Gates and by John Arnold.
Daschle also “founded the Daschle Group, a public policy advisory of Baker Donelson.” An internet search of Baker Donelson charter schools, provides a Baker Donelson page that has the following headings among others. (1) “Lobbying”- “Particularly on the charter school front, our attorneys are integrally involved in drafting legislation and policy and lobbying at the local level” (2) “Real estate and Construction”- “We aid in real estate and facility-use arrangements for charter schools.” (3) “Regulatory”- “Our team …is skilled at working with regulation boards, particularly for charter schools.” (4) “School funding…”- “We also advise on taxation ,…and public funding concerns for charter schools. Tax issues can include tax-exempt status …and multi corporate structures that may be applicable to charter schools.”
L. L. says
Pro Politico reports about “lobbying engagements”.
The page for Stride Inc. F/K/A K 12 Inc. lists the Daschle Group, with the dates, Aug. 20, 2020- to present.. The agencies listed include, the U.S. Senate, House of Reps. and, the Executive Office of the President.
Those who want to know how one state, Indiana, ended up with school choice legislation, can read, “An Insider’s Look…”. 4-22-2021, posted at the Southwestern Indiana Catholic Community Newsletter.
The Indiana Democratic Party state chair from 1964-1974 (longest tenure in the state’s history) was a free market libertarian, Gordon St. Angelo, who was a friend of Milton Friedman. Later, Gordon endorsed Republican Mitch Daniels when he ran for Governor. Gordon was integral to the expansion of the role of non-profits in public policy. Mr. St. Angelo headed the EdChoice organization.
Indiana public education is/was roiled by the perfect storm on three fronts. First, the Foundation linked to the largest corporation in Indiana decided it wanted school choice (“School choice made easier for Indy parents,…Indiana is often lauded as a champion of school choice” (Indy star, July 22, 2016). The President of Eli Lilly and Company Foundation was one of the public letter’s signees. Secondly, Catholic dioceses-linked individuals claim they were responsible for the school choice legislation in Indiana’s Congress as cited in the paragraph above. Thirdly, there was Gordon St. Angelo, referenced above.
The Eli Lilly Foundation’s commitment to grants for religious organizations can be assessed with a quick internet search.
Jefferson was rightly concerned about coalitions between the politically/economically powerful and the religious. He authored a famous quote about it, describing it as harmful to citizens, in every age and in every country.
Nancy Bailey says
Here’s more discussion.
I’d like to see you expand on your claim about universal preschool with evidence. Please explain more about why it is a bad thing for children if their parents are able to select the program they attend while they are 3-5 years old and highly impressionable. You make a strong claim but it lacks nuance or understanding of what is at stake for CHILDREN in reforms in early childhood ed.
I can share that in the head start and public school preschool programs where I’ve worked and observed for fieldwork, 3-5 year old children are daily expected to perform developmentally inappropriate tasks (ie sit for direct instruction for 10 mins or more at a time, multiple times a day), and are criticized or punished for not being able to meet the teachers demands. They have limited free play time and limited choices, which the teacher might take away at their own whim (“dramatic play is closed today!” one teacher would crow when the students “weren’t listening). They are made to sit in place doing worksheets and handwriting practice “because they need to get ready for kindergarten”, and they experience low-quality interactions with teachers (lots of scolding and yelling, little connection btw kids and teachers, virtually no affection). The classrooms are crowded and chaotic, with 20 students at a time, and the overarching concern is “school readiness” and not a developmentally appropriate program.
We cannot just expand free preschool through zoned programs associated with public schools, unless there is a guarantee of child-centered public preschool equipped to meet the children’s needs. Obsession with standards, testing and “rigor” has already taken the play, outdoor recess, and focus on social-emotional learning out of kindergarten, and this will only trickle down farther to preschool if it is universally tied to the k-12 public system.
Nancy Bailey says
Thank you, Hannah! A friend of mine recently asked me to check out Head Start. My next post is about this. We must be on the same wavelength! I’ve been concerned about preschool for years, and if you search preschool and kindergarten on the blog, you will find plenty of posts. I’m sorry I didn’t elaborate on it more here.
Thanks for your comment.
Dorothy Scanlan says
“Teacher unions aren’t always pro-teacher either, enamored of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, signing up for Common Core, and never taking a strong enough stand against high-stakes standardized testing.”
I am also a Democrat and emphatically agree with everything you say. However, I would respectfully say that I think you are being a little hard on teacher’s unions–remember–teachers ARE the union. Where I am (Maryland) there has been pushback on some of the mandates you mention but unions really don’t have that much power to effect the kind of change you are talking about. I’ve never met a single teacher who supports standardized testing. It’s awful.
I am a public school librarian and completely burnt out on teaching. I’d retire this year if I could and sadly cannot recommend teaching as a career. Things are so bad that I plan on home-schooling my new granddaughter. How sad is that?