Monday, December 09, 2019

What Would You Ask the Presidential Candidates?

A week or two ago, I got an email from AFT. They were seeking people to go to Pittsburgh this coming weekend to see and hopefully participate in the presidential education forum. It asked me," IF YOU HAD THE CHANCE TO TELL THE NEXT PRESIDENT ONE THING ABOUT WHY YOU’RE PUBLIC SCHOOL PROUD OR WHAT YOU SEE IN YOUR SCHOOL AND COMMUNITY THAT NEEDS IMPROVEMENT, WHAT WOULD IT BE? "

I had to click on a link and respond, so I don't actually have a record of my answer. I'm pretty sure it had something to do with working behind the most overcrowded school in New York City in a miserable trailer that's hot around summer and cold around winter. I may have asked about how exactly a candidate would support and encourage union, not only for teachers, but for all Americans.

A few days ago, I was notified that I was one of 25 applicants who AFT had selected to send to Pittsburgh. If you aren't coming, you can still watch. AFT will be training me in solidarity and social media Friday, and I'll be able to attend the forum on Saturday. I will try to ask a question of at least one of the candidates. I've got just a few things on my mind.

It weighs heavily in my memory that candidate Barack Obama said he'd pass card check so as to encourage and enable union. To the best of my recollection, he never even tried. I also recall him saying he'd find comfortable shoes and march with labor, and that he never set foot in Wisconsin as collective bargaining was stripped from teachers and others. I recall candidate Obama saying something to NEA on the lines of, "I'll do it with you, not to you." I also recall Arne Duncan being selected as education secretary. Duncan, famously, said that Hurricane Katrina was the best thing to happen to education in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Now I recall very clearly what happened in NOLA. All, or almost all, the public schools were closed and re-opened as charter schools. Union is pretty much a thing of the past. Due process? Dream on. How many teachers were displaced? How many teachers of color lost their jobs? Who knows? How many had to come back to work without tenure or due process rights? How many are working in other states? How many didn't come back at all? How many died, along with other residents, in "the best thing that happened to education in NOLA?"

Do you remember Barack Obama firing Duncan for that remark? Do you remember him, or candidate Biden raising a peep about it? Me neither.

Are you troubled by being judged by junk science value-added nonsense? Are you stressed out of your mind because of the evaluation system? Do you, like me, think that Common Core exams are total crap, moving students and teachers backward rather than forward? Are you upset that the previous Democratic administration pushed Race to the Top, enabled charters, and pushed closures of public schools?

Have you got other concerns? Do you think it's ridiculous to object to public health care, or free college because children of the rich might avail themselves of it? Have you got other questions or objections you'd like to see answered?

Please let me know in the comments.
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