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AFT’s Cognitive Dissonance in their Endorsement

January 7, 2016

I subscribe to Politico’s weekday feeds on education and the four paragraphs below are taken directly from that feed with my commentary in bold red italics 

NO CANDIDATE LEFT BEHIND: At a recent town hall event in New Hampshire, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said he opposes privately run charter schools. He said, “If we are going to have a strong democracy and be competitive globally, we need the best educated people in the world. And I believe in public education – I went to public schools my whole life. So I think rather than give tax breaks to billionaires, I think we invest in teachers and we invest in public education.” (h/t Diane Ravitch) Watch the video: (Sanders’ comments start around the 1-hour, 48-minute mark.) http://bit.ly/1JYENv6As noted in many earlier posts, I was completely confident that this was Bernie’s position and I was glad to see him state it clearly and unequivocally. 

NEW YEAR, NEW EDU: Nina Rees of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools thinks 2016 is going to be a big year for the charter school movement. She expects several states to make progress. For example: “Massachusetts will finally lift at least one of its arbitrary caps on charter school growth,” she said. Rees expects Kentucky or West Virginia will become the 44th state with a charter school law. And she hopes Washington state lawmakers will come up with a fix to save the state’s charter schools after the state Supreme Court struck down the state’s charter school law last year. I offer this as further evidence that the passage of ESSA will do nothing to stop the expansion of for-profit charter schools… the language in this statement (e.g. “arbitrary caps”) leads me to conclude the States need to eliminate those pesky regulations. 

– Education reformers are also focused on the presidential election. Shavar Jeffries of Democrats for Education Reform said he’s determined to maintain the reform momentum through the next presidential administration. “That groundwork starts with electing our next president, and by the end of the year, I know that President Obama’s education legacy will be in good hands with a new Democratic president-elect who will continue to defend and expand upon this vital progress for our students,” he said.There is no reason that any child in any part of our country has to settle for less than a world-class public education, which is why I’m so committed, along with my team at DFER, to ensuring that President Obama’s legacy of reform continues on with our 45th president.” Two points: DFER is a faux grassroots organization underwritten by hedge-funders who want to privatize public education… and “President Obama’s legacy of reform” is one of using test results to close public schools and replace them with for-profit institutions that still neglect the children raised in poverty. 

– That Democratic president-elect could be frontrunner Hillary Clinton, who won the early endorsement of the American Federation of Teachers last year. AFT President Randi Weingarten reiterated her unwavering support, but said the union’s work won’t stop at the ballot box. “AFT will be working in statehouses and communities throughout America to ensure that the reset in public education won at the federal level takes hold nationwide,” she said. “We will do our part to make every school a place where parents want to send their kids, teachers want to teach and kids are engaged.” Here’s where my cognitive dissonance occurs: How on earth can the AFT support a candidate like Ms. Clinton who a week ago said she’d close down the schools who were “below average” and who, unlike her opponent Bernie Sanders, has not spoken out against for-profit charter schools. Ms. Weingarten brushed off Ms. Clinton’s remarks a week ago as hyperbole to make a point… and has, thus far, NOT insisted that the candidate her union endorsed take as clear and unequivocal a stance against privatization as Mr. Sanders has. The reason, I am certain, is that the AFT— like most of the mainstream pundits— believe Bernie is “unelectable”. 

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