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Presidential Politics: “Appearances” vs. “Assurances”

June 21, 2015

Let me put my biases regarding the 2016 election on the table: I am 100% behind Bernie Sanders for President because he is the only candidate to date who has made it explicitly clear that he would abandon the practice of relying on standardized tests to “measure” school and teacher performance, made it clear he opposes the privatization of public education, and made it abundantly clear that he opposes the gutting of union contracts.

His opponents in the Republican party all hold the opposite view. To a person they want to use “objective measures” to evaluate teachers and schools, apply market forces to public education, and heap public scorn on “greedy teachers” with “tenure” that makes it “impossible for administrators to get rid of bad teachers”.

The position of Mr. Sanders opponent on the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton, is less clear, as a recent article by Allie Bidwell in the US News and World Report indicates. In describing Ms. Clinton’s positions on various K-12 initiatives, Bidwell wrote that she “…appeared sympathetic to union concerns about testing and support for teachers” and she “…appears poised to depart from aspects of the Obama administration’s K-12 education agenda that have alienated some rank-and-file members of the Democratic Party” and that “…the two national teachers unions and national advocacy group Democrats for Education Reform – sides that have often been at odds – all appear pleased with Clinton’s campaign thus far.”

 

Eight years ago I voted for Barak Obama on appearances. He appeared to be supportive of someone like Linda Darling-Hammond to be Secretary of Education, appeared to be opposed to the mindless testing that drove No Child Left Behind, and appeared to be someone who supported the kinds of anti-poverty programs that were needed to close the widening economic divide. We cannot have another candidate elected on appearances. We need assurance that the standardized test driven eduction policies are eliminated and replaced with policies that will provide equitable resources to all schools and equitable opportunities to all children.

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