Home > Uncategorized > Hillary Clinton vs. “Reformers”: Round One

Hillary Clinton vs. “Reformers”: Round One

The titled of Lyndsay Layton’s Washington Post article serves as an announcement that Presidential campaigns are about to address issues near and dear to public education policy makers: “Hillary Clinton Wades Into the Internal Democratic Debate Over Public Schools”. Noting that Ms. Clinton has heretofore only talked about relatively non-controversial issues like the expansion of preschool and after school programs and affordable post-secondary education, Layton reported on Ms. Clinton’s response to a question posed at a South Carolina public forum:

At a town hall meeting in South Carolina on Saturday, Clinton was critical of public charter schools, saying “most” intentionally exclude or expel children who are difficult to educate.

“Most charter schools — I don’t want to say every one — but most charter schools, they don’t take the hardest-to-teach kids, or, if they do, they don’t keep them,” Clinton said in response to questions at an event hosted by the South Carolina Legislative Black Caucus.

By contrast, she said, traditional public schools “thankfully, take everybody, and then they don’t get the resources or the help and support that they need to be able to take care of every child’s education.”

“I have for many years now, about 30 years, supported the idea of charter schools, but not as a substitute for the public schools but as a supplement for the public schools,” Clinton said.

Predictably, the “reform” crowd– or as Ms. Layton characterized them- “elements within the Democratic Party that support policies such as merit pay, teacher evaluations and charter schools“– was appalled and indignant.

“That is absolutely false,” Jeanne Allen, the founder of the Center for Education Reform, said of Clinton’s claims about charters. “She sounds like an aloof, elite candidate from a bygone era, before ed reform was a reality.”

“There’s no doubt that we’re very troubled and concerned,” said Shavar Jeffries, president of Democrats for Education Reform. “We don’t want any sort of slowdown on the Obama legacy of expanding high-quality charter seats, particularly for families of color, many of whom are attending schools that are failing them.”

Jeffries said his organization is hoping that Clinton’s comments are an anomaly.

“Secretary Clinton has a 30-year record of being very supportive of choice and charter schools,” he said. “We’re hopeful that she will act in ways consistent with her record.”

Ms. Layton then recounts Ms. Clinton’s previous positions on public education, which not only included “being very supportive of choice and charter schools” but also being supportive of smaller class sizes, more resources for teachers, and the fact that parents and students had a role in determining the outcomes in schools.

The article concludes with quotes from Ms. Clinton’s spokesperson:

“For decades, Hillary Clinton has been a strong supporter of both public charter schools and an unflinching advocate for traditional public schools, their teachers and their students,” Clinton spokesman Jesse Ferguson said when asked to explain the comments she made Saturday.

Clinton “wants to be sure that public charter schools, like traditional public schools, serve all students and do not discriminate against students with disabilities or behavioral challenges,” Ferguson said. “She wants to be sure that public charter schools are open to all students. As president, she will work to ensure there are pathways for every child to live up to their potential.”

Last week Ms. Clinton opposed the treatment of the high school student in South Carolina who was manhandled by a school resource officer, insisting that schools use disciplinary approaches that provide support for children.

On Saturday, by insisting that charters accept and educate all students who are accepted, Ms. Clinton has taken a position that supports the needs of all children raised in poverty, not just those whose parents are engaged enough and/or have the time to enroll their children in a selective charter.

The next step, and the most important one in my judgment, would be to come out in opposition to the mandatory testing that is a part of Federal law today and the cornerstone of the so called “Obama legacy”. NOW, as Congress deliberates on a bill that continues this practice in the name of “accountability” would be an ideal time for ALL Presidential candidates to state their opposition to testing…. and NOWwith the release of NAEP scores that are in decline she could do so by pointing out what every thoughtful policy maker already knows: the test-and-punish regimen is failing children.

 

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