Monday, October 17, 2016

Campaign 2016--the Choice for Educators

The Washington Post interviewed both major candidates about education, and I'm not jumping up and down about either. Trump simply offered a statement about school choice, meaning charters, vouchers, and pretty much anything that doubles down against unionized public schools. Hillary is more nuanced, but not precisely encouraging. For one thing, it's disappointing she isn't still shunning spawn of Satan Rahm Emanuel. But let's look at the issues.


A lot of us don't believe in high-stakes testing, particularly since they tend to shed light on nothing but which zip code students come from. Here's what Hillary says:

To me, the solution is better, fewer, and fairer tests.  The bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act was a step in the right direction. By providing funding to states and school districts to audit their testing systems and reduce unnecessary and duplicative tests, the legislation can help us find the right balance on testing.

It's not a bad answer, but it's not a strong one either. This is the same rhetoric we always get from testing apologists, and it really rules out nothing whatsoever. We're always hearing about how there's less testing, about how tests take less time, even when they're untimed. It really makes no difference what the truth of the matter is. That's not a strong statement, but rather a middle-of-the-road thing that makes it hard to disagree. But where's the beef?

Common Core:

When states came together on Common Core, I thought that was a laudable effort. But, like many Americans, I have concerns about how the Common Core has been implemented.

This is sorely disappointing. This is the same boilerplate excuse we get from virtually every CCSS supporter. It's like an executioner stating the process would work much better if only the guillotine were better oiled. Hillary sent Chelsea to the same elite school Obama sent his girls to. It utilizes none of the nonsense that CCSS inflicts on our children. Close reading is discredited nonsense, and if it isn't good enough for Hillary's kid, it's not good enough for yours either.

Charter schools:

Quality public charter schools can provide parents with real choices for their children. In fact, many of the country’s best public charter schools are opening doors to opportunity for disadvantaged students. That’s why I have long been a strong supporter of public charter schools and an unflinching advocate for traditional public schools.

She supports them, in case that is not clear. And she uses the ridiculous term "public" charter schools even though the only actual part of them that's public is the funding. You won't see Hillary making a fuss when Eva Moskowitz decides rules that dictate funding are too inconvenient for her. And the distinction between non-profit and for-profit charters, while it may mean something somewhere, doesn't prevent the likes of Moskowitz from paying herself half a million per annum.

Teacher evaluation:

The Every Students Succeeds Act provides a great framework for supporting educators. And specifically on the issue of evaluations, the law helps us move in the right direction by providing states the flexibility to design holistic accountability systems.  That moves us closer to ensuring every student has a supported and effective teacher in the classroom.

What does that even mean? The question specifically asked whether or not she was for VAM junk science evaluation of teachers. There is no yes, no no, and for my money, no answer. Perhaps she's saying she's glad there are alternatives. Still, I want to know whether or not the next President of the United States supports junk science.


...schools alone can’t overcome the crisis of children living in poverty.  This is something we all need to come together to address as a country.  Because the truest measure of any society is how care for our kids. 

I like this answer. It's her best, for my money. But if she believes that, why won't she stand up and say we have to stop evaluating teachers with junk science? Now I'm going to vote for Hillary, but with very little enthusiasm. This is because the alternative is Donald Trump, and I think he need be as widely repudiated as possible.

When she is President, we will need to speak as loudly and directly as we can. We will need to move Hillary Clinton away from these weasel positions and demand she support us. Make no mistake, anyone who supports children must also support their teachers. We are their role models, and I don't go to work every day to model being a victim. We must also demand that our union leadership speak up for those of us on the ground.

I don't have great expectations of President Hillary Clinton. But I think together we have the potential to cajole, push, move or force her toward sanity.
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