Home > Uncategorized > Presidential Education Platform – Part 1

Presidential Education Platform – Part 1

September 26, 2014

I live in New Hampshire, the state that holds the first presidential primary in the nation. The presidential election is two years from November, but because we hold the “first-in-the-nation” status NH is already being visited by potential presidential candidates from both parties who are making an effort to differentiate themselves from each other and from the candidates running on the opposite party. After working in public education in six different states for over 35 years, serving as a consultant in several VT and NH districts for the past two years, and writing this blog for nearly three years, I have some thoughts on what an ideal education platform might look like. I also have some ideas on where the funds might come from to pay for the ideas incorporated in these “planks”, which I will include at the conclusion of each of the three posts. 

Over the next three days I will publish my ideal education platform, written as if it were being presented by the candidate. I welcome any feedback or editorial comments you might want to offer. In a recent blog post Jeff Bryant asserts that “Both anecdotal information and empirical data drawn from surveys confirm that voters don’t just value public education; they want candidates who will support classroom teachers and oppose funding cuts to public schools”. If that is true in November 2014, I have reason to believe it will be even more so in 2016. With that in mind, I share the first section of my ideal presidential platform, printed below: 

Overarching Messages

  • Return governance of public schools to state and local school boards: No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top have stripped state and local boards of their ability to define their curriculum and establish accountability measures. They mandated a de facto national curriculum and de facto national standardized tests. These national tests are designed so that most local schools will be defined as “failing”, paving the way for them to be taken over by for-profit charter chains. If elected I will appoint a Secretary of Education who will immediately suspend Race to the Top and all standardized tests mandated by the federal government. This will help restore governance to State and local school boards and diminish the impact of standardized tests on public schools.
  • Restore dignity to the teaching profession: By increasing the number of for-profit charter schools and supporting de-regulation, the US Department of Education has effectively expanded the number of untrained and non-certified teachers in our classrooms. If elected I will insist that States and local boards employ only highly qualified teachers by penalizing states that fail to do enforce regulations requiring certified teachers in every classroom so and offering scholarships to teachers who seek certification in areas where highly qualified teachers are scarce.
  • Eliminate all public funding to for profit and religiously affiliated K-12 schools: Public education was never intended to be profit driven. Nor was public education intended to incorporate religious training. Boards of education who oversee public schools funded by taxpayers are answerable to the public and, like all public institutions, cannot make a profit or advocate for religion. That is how it should be. For-profit schools do not answer to the public: they answer to shareholders. Religiously affiliated schools do not answer to the public: they answer to an unelected governing board who share a common religious perspective. We should not allow taxpayers dollars to line the pockets of shareholders or teach our children that one religion is superior to another. If elected I will stop the flow of taxpayer dollars to shareholders and to religious instruction of any kind.
  • Give EVERY child a chance to succeed in public schools: Our current education system punishes students born in the wrong zip code. Some of my opponents want to offer vouchers to students so they can choose better schools than those found in their neighborhood. But those same opponents want to make sure those vouchers cannot be used to attend a school in a nearby town or neighborhood where wealthy children live. We cannot sustain the American Dream of economic advancement for each succeeding generation unless we make sure the most financially challenged school districts in our nation have the same services, courses, and facilities as the most financially blessed school districts in our nation. If elected, I will advocate that we allocate federal funds in such a way that we can restore the American Dream.
  • Reinforce the notion that public education is a right and not a consumer item. My opponents want to provide parents with vouchers and a wealth of “data” so they can “choose” a public school they way they choose laundry detergent. Our President and my opponents want to provide college bound students with “data” on public and private college costs so they can choose a college the same way. Here’s what’s wrong with that idea: public education is NOT a consumer item. It is a right that every citizen should have. Over the past three decades have redirected public funds away from education and toward businesses. If elected I will recommend legislation that creates incentives for state legislatures to restore public education funding and post-secondary funding to 1980 levels.

    How Can This Be Funded?

     People ask me how we can possibly pay for these initiatives. Here’s the truth of the matter: The funds we need for education are being spent elsewhere. We must use dollars now going for wars and tax breaks for businesses to fund education for the next generation of Americans. We are paying billions of dollars a year for wars and we haven’t raised a dime to cover their costs. We are currently offering millions of dollars in tax breaks to corporations and then allowing them to locate offices overseas to avoid paying income taxes. If we can raise billions for wars without raising taxes and allowing businesses to increase their profits, we should be able to raise billions for school districts to provide modern facilities, modern technology, high-speed internet connections, and MOST OF ALL, well qualified and highly dedicated teachers.  

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