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Peter Greene Wonders: What IS Biden’s Position on Public Education?

September 13, 2020

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In this Forbes article pro-public education advocate Peter Greene describes the dilemma those of us in his camp face in this election. We clearly cannot afford another minute of Betsy DeVos but neither do we want to see a reprise of the misbegotten Obama-Duncan test and punish regime. Before the POTUS’ mishandling of the pandemic and before the police brutality in Wisconsin and Minnesota began eating up bandwidth in the news there was a brief window where it appeared that public schools might be in forefront as a campaign issue and in that brief time Greene describes a platform that his staff and Bernie Sanders staff put together that had the elimination of high stakes testing and the abandonment of “market based” reform as the centerpiece. Greene believes that the DNC was unsettled by this because their base is split on these issues and, as a result the current Biden platform sidesteps both issues completely. And Greene concludes that as things stand now, candidate Biden may never have to offer a clear position on public schools, which will suit him fine:

This may highlight how education as an issue has changed for Democratic candidates. It used to be a simple, safe topic, but as it has become more contentious, Democratic politicians have tried to skate carefully past the tricky parts. And this may be the election that makes skating easy—after all, the Trump/DeVos track record for public education is abysmal, and their plan for public education is more of the same. For people who care about public education, Trump is a terrible choice. But Biden can’t skate forever. Nominee Biden may not have to fully explain himself, but if he becomes President Biden, he won’t have that luxury. The people who work in public education would just like to hear about it sooner rather than later.

Given the DNC’s stance on public schools, and the bipartisan support for the continuation of the use of standardized testing incorporated in ESSA, and the daunting fiscal challenges he will face I doubt that Biden will do anything about the inequities in public education… and I fear that those inequities, which are the root cause of the inequities in our economy, will persist for another generation.

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